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PA Getting Started

PA How to get started

1. Is homeschooling legal?

Yes.

2. Who may homeschool?

The parent/guardian is primarily responsible for homeschooling the child, a private tutor with the required qualifications, and two other options as a satellite. More information can be found here. For the purpose of the information that follows we will be talking about option 1. The parent is fully responsible for the education of the child. To teach your children you have to have a high school diploma or its equivalency.

3. When do I need to notify?

A notarized affidavit must be filed with the local superintendent before you start your homeschool program and by August 1 of each year after that. The affidavit should be filed within three days after removing your child from school or within 3 days after the start of the school year if they are not enrolled, in order to avoid truancy charges.

Pennsylvania’s age of compulsory attendance is 6 years old, meaning that children who turn 6 before Sept. 1st must either be enrolled in school or have a homeschool affidavit on- file. For children who turn 6 during the school year, the affidavit may need to be filed before their birthday, but possibly not until the following year , depending on the school district’s policies. It is recommended that you check with your local school district for their particular requirements.

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4. How do I get permission to homeschool?

You don’t need to ask for permission, you do need to follow the law. Home education is a legal excuse from compulsory attendance in Pennsylvania. It is equal to other educational options.

6. Can we start homeschooling midyear?

You may begin the day after you file your affidavit. You may file your first affidavit at any time, at any time during the school year; you don’t have to wait for the end of a quarter or semester, or for the beginning of the school year. PA homeschool law requires 180 days of educational instruction. Days should not be counted until after the affidavit is filed. The affidavit should be filed within 3 days of withdrawing your child from school, in order to avoid truancy charges. You need to formally withdraw your child from that school and follow the law.

7. Who should I send my notification to and should I just mail it?

The law states that you file a notarized affidavit be sent to the superintendent of your school district of residence. Mail your notification form via certified mail, return receipt requested. If hand-delivering, be sure to obtain date and signature of the person receiving your notification. Keep copies of all your notification paperwork because they are legal documents. Each year a new affidavit must be filed by August 1st.

8. Is there a certain form I should use?

No, there is no state-provided homeschool affidavit form. Some school districts do have a preferred form, but you are not required by law to use them, and they may request more information than you are required to provide. You can create your own, as long as it meets the requirements set forth by the law. Example affidavit forms can be found online from HSLDA and the following links. There are two affidavid forms One for elementary and one for secondary

9. What information am I required to supply?

 

The affidavit must be notarized and include the following information:

  1. The name of the parent/supervisor, name and age of each child, address, and telephone number
  2. Assurance that subjects are taught in English

  3. Evidence of immunization*

  4. Evidence of health and medical services required by law*

  5. Certification that the home education program will comply with 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1

  6. A certification that the supervisor, all adults living within the home, and persons having legal custody of the children have not been convicted of certain criminal offenses within the past five years. school year for which notification is being made;

 

In addition to the affidavit, you must submit an outline of proposed education objectives, by subject area, for each child. These objectives can be as specific or as general as you wish. The law states that the objectives “shall not be utilized by the superintendent in determining if the home education program is out of compliance..."

 

*Note: according to the law, the homeschool affidavit is “satisfactory evidence” of immunization and health & medical services. However, the law requires certain medical screenings be completed each year, depending on the age of your child. You must ensure these screenings are completed and it is recommended that you maintain these records on file. But you do not need to submit any medical information with your affidavit, or to your school district, ever.

 

Parents who are claiming religious exemption from immunizations and / or health and medical services should submit an exemption form, in addition to the affidavit and objectives.

 

 

 

10. What information am I required to teach?

At the elementary school level, the following courses shall be taught: English, to include spelling, reading and writing; arithmetic; science; geography; history of the United States and Pennsylvania; civics; safety education, including regular and continuous instruction in the dangers and prevention of fires; health and physiology; physical education; music; and art.

At the secondary school level, the following courses shall be taught: English, to include language, literature, speech and composition; science; geography; social studies, to include civics, world history, history of the United States and Pennsylvania; mathematics, to include general mathematics, algebra and geometry; art; music; physical education; health; and safety education, including regular and continuous instruction in the dangers and prevention of fires. Such courses of study may include, at the discretion of the supervisor of the home education program, economics; biology; chemistry; foreign languages; trigonometry; or other age- appropriate courses as contained in Chapter 5 of the State Board of Education.

The following minimum courses in grades nine through twelve are established as a requirement for graduation in a home education program:

(1) Four years of English.
(2) Three years of mathematics.
(3) Three years of science.
(4) Three years of social studies
(5) Two years of arts and humanities.

 

 

10. Does my child have to take an achievement test?

Standardized testing is required in grades 3, 5, and 8. You must use a nationally normed standardized test approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education or the Statewide tests administered to public school students. A parent or guardian may not be the test administrator.

The test results in math and reading/language arts or the results of the Statewide tests must be included in the annual portfolio (see below). The test results do not need to be submitted to the school district.

 

It is wise to keep all the legal documentation and records already mentioned (i.e. affidavit, objectives, medical records) and any communication from your school district.

In addition, you must maintain documentation to “demonstrate that appropriate education is occurring". This documentation should be compiled into the child’s portfolio, which will be reviewed by a homeschool evaluator at the end of the year. The portfolio should include:

  1. Attendance records documenting days/hours of instruction

  2. A “Log of reading materials… made contemporaneously with the instruction”

  3. Student work samples showing progress in each subject area. These samples can be any writings, worksheets, workbooks, or creative materials used or developed by the student.

  4. Results of standardized testing, if required (see above).

At the end of the year, the portfolio should be reviewed and the child interviewed by a certified evaluator. The evaluator’s certification must be submitted to the superintendent by June 30th. A copy of the evaluation should also be kept on file.

There is no required form or language for the evaluator’s certification. However, it should certify that the evaluation was conducted, that the required number of days was reached, that the required subjects were taught, and that the student has made progress and an appropriate home education program is occurring. It does not need to include the results of standardized tests or any student work samples.

 

13. Should I provide more information than is requested?

It is not recommended to provide the school with any more information other than required by law. Remember, you are notifying the district; not asking for permission.

For more information on Pennsylvania law, contact https://chaponline.com/quick-start-guide/  https://phaa.org/lawguide.pdf and www.hslda.org

* Disclaimer: We are not legal experts. Please do your research. *