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FAQ

Q:

Is Louisiana law favorable to home education?

A:

Yes, Louisiana law is favorable to home education.  Our constitutional liberty is protected by the Private Education Deregulation Act (Act No.828, Section 236 of Title 17 of Louisiana Revised Statutes of 1950).  However, as with all freedoms, it must be guarded.  Although homeschooling has been recognized since 1980, attempts have been made to repeal that act or chip away at this right.  The HSLDA fights daily for our right to home educate our children.

Q:

What is CHEF of Louisiana?

A:

Christian Home Educators Fellowship (CHEF) of Louisiana, Inc. is an organization comprised of Christian Home school support groups from around the state.  This gives CHEF of Louisiana an effective membership of hundred of families without competing with local support groups for members.  The unique relationship CHEF of Louisiana has with local support groups offers each home school family the comprehensive unified and affordable support it needs at local and state levels.

CHEF of Louisiana's purpose is to provide services and support to Christian home education families including, but not limited to, the following ways:

1.  Provide timely national and state news.  State organizations have become point-of-contact for most national home education service organizations, such as the National Center for Home Education and the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).  These organizations depend on the state organizations to inform families in their states of legislation, court cases, and other events that influence the future of home education.  On the state level, CHEF of Louisiana maintains a watchful eye on the state legislature, state agencies, and the news media.

2.  Assist in the formation of new home education support groups and provide a network of communication between the groups.

3.  Direct new families to a group in their area and inform them of current home study law.

4.  Support home education research to reinforce to the community that home schooling is a viable method of education.

5.  Provide training for support group leaders to strengthen local support groups.

6.  Educate the public about home education and thus improve acceptance in the community.

7.  Provide a state newsletter with current Louisiana home education news.

8.  Sponsor the Annual CHEF of Louisiana State Convention and Book Fair.

9.  Watch for unfavorable legislation and initiate favorable legislation.

President:  Roger and Jan Smith  president@chefofla.org

Secretary:  Tim and Jenny Morse  secretary@chefofla.org

Treasurer:  Chris and Ashley Chin  treasurer@chefofla.org 

Legislative Liaison:  Kristie Cross  legislative@chefofla.org

Kristie Cross is the eyes and ears of CHEF of LA, keeping watch on legislative issues happening in our state capitol.  She has frequent contact with state legislators and people related to homeschooling issues throughout the state.  She informs HSLDA of any activity in Louisiana that may threaten the rights of homeschooling families. Kristie is critical in fulfilling CHEF of LA's goal of keeping watch for unfavorable legislation and advocating for homeschooling families through the state legislature.

 Feel free to visit the CHEF of Louisiana website at www.chefofla.org for more information.

Q:

When can home education begin?

A:

Home education may begin at any time during the school year, but the application form must be mailed within 15 days after the home study program begins.  The law also allows parents to register with the Department of Education as a private school.  Only those children affected by the compulsory attendance law must be registered with the Department of Education.  According to the Compulsory Attendance Law (Louisiana R.S. 17:221A) all children from their 7th birthday to the 18th birthday, or until graduation, must be in school, as well as any child who has not turned 7, but who was previously enrolled in the public school system.

Q:

Who may home educate?

A:

Any parent may home educate his or her child.  A parent's constitutional right to home educate comes from the fundamental constitutional principle of the freedom of parents to direct the education of their children.  Parents with religious convictions also have the right to home educate as a free exercise of religion.  These provisions are in the Louisiana State Constitution, as well as the U.S. Constitution.

Q:

Where is the State form to fill out to homeschool our children?

A:

In Louisiana there are two options available: (1) the Home Study Program or (2) the Private School Option. 

1.  Home Study Program

When home educating under this option, an initial application must be made within 15 days after the beginning of the home study program.  Initial applications must include a certified copy of the child's birth certificate (A clear photocopy may be sent if the notary seal is readable.  Remember that the Dept. of Education is not responsible for lost or damaged birth certificates.).  Send the application by registered mail with verification of receipt to:  SBESE-Approved Home Study Program, Louisiana Department of Education, P.O. Box 94064, Baton Rouge, LA  70804-9064.  The Home Study Information Packet, which includes an application, may be printed from the Dept. of Education's website at http://www.louisianabelieves.com/docs/school-choice/guidelines---bese-approved-home-study-program.pdf?sfvrsn=2 If you have questions or need further information, call the Dept. of Education at 1-877-453-2721.

2.  Private School Option

When opting to home educate under the Private School Law, do not send the "Application for Home Study Program" form.  Instead, send a letter to the State Superintendent of Schools informing him that you have established a private school.  Write the letter on your school letterhead that you create and include the following information:  Number of pupils of compulsory attendance age, when your school starts, and number of school days per school year (minimum of 180). 

 The written notification should be sent within 30 days of the beginning of your school year.  We recommend that this notification be sent by registered mail with verification of receipt to: Dr. Susan A. Aysenne - Director, Division of Educational Improvement and Assistance, P.O. Box 94064, Baton Rouge, LA  70804-9064.

Q:

How do I renew my application for the Home Study Program each year?

A:

A renewal application must be made by the first of October of the school year, or within 12 months of the approval of the initial application.  Renewal applications are approved when parents submit satisfactory evidence that their home school offered a sustained curriculum of a quality equal to that of the public schools at the same grade level.  This can be done in one of four ways:

  1. Verification that the child has taken the Stanford Achievement Test (SAT), California Achievement Test (CAT) or another approved standardized test, and has scored at or above his grade level or has progressed at a rate equal to one grade level for each year in home study.  A clear copy of the test results attached to the Home Study Application is sufficient.
  2. A written statement from a teacher certified to teach at the child's grade level stating that the child is being taught with a sustained curriculum of quality at least equal to that offered by public schools at that grade level, or in the case of children with mental or physical disabilities, a sustained curriculum at least equal to that offered by public schools to children with similar disabilities.
  3. Verificiation that the child took the State Basic Skills Test and scored at or above the state performance standard.
  4. A packet of materials may be presented including a complete outline of the subjects taught, list of books and materials used, copies of the student's work, test results, statements by third parties who have observed the child's progress, or any other evidence of the quality of the program being offered.

Most parents choose to send in a copy of their child's test results.  Whichever option you choose, proofread for spelling and grammatical errors, and be sure that all required information is included.

 

Q:

How do I renew my application for the Private School Option every year?

A:

Send a letter according to the instructions given for the initial registration under the Private School Option, updating the information to reflect the new school year.

 

Q:

What if I have trouble with the Department of Education or a truancy officer?

A:

If you are a member of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), contact them immediately.  And always contact your local support group if you have any difficulties.  If an official comes to your door, be courteous; but do not let anyone into your home, unless it is a police officer with a search warrant.  To avoid an uncooperative appearance, have a copy of your approved application with the State Board of Education or a copy of the private school option letter ready to show.  A folder including information such as a Statement of Faith and Education from your local support group, and a copy of your support group's newsletter could also be shown.

Q:

What happens if "approval" is not granted for the Home Study Program?

A:

First, be sure all guidelines have been complied with and all documents have been submitted properly.  If not, correct the errors and resubmit all documentation properly.  Michael P. Farris, founder of Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), summarizes Louisiana law in his book Home Schooling and the Law as follows: 

"Louisiana Revised Statutes 17:236 appears on the surface to be an 'approval' type statute.  However, approval by the [Department of Education] must be given, according to the terms of the statute 'if the parent certifies that the home study program...offers a sustained curriculum of quality at least equal to that offered by public schools.'  Since the parental declaration must be accepted, the [state official] holds no true discretion."

Q:

Tell me more about HSLDA.

A:

Home School Legal Defense Association is a nonprofit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms.  Through annual memberships, HSLDA is tens of thousands of families united in service together, providing a strong voice when and where needed.

HSLDA advocates on the legal front by fully representing member families at every stage of proceedings.  Each year, thousands of member families receive legal consultation by letter and phone, hundreds more are represented through negotiations with local officials, and dozens are represented in court proceedings.  HSLDA also takes the offensive, filing actions to protect members against government intrusion and to establish legal precedent.  On occasion, HSLDA will handle precedent-setting cases for nonmembers, as well.

HSLDA advocates on Capitol Hill by tracking federal legislation that affects homeschooling and parental rights.  HSLDA works to defeat or amend harmful bills, but also works proactively, introducing legislation to protect and preserve family freedoms.

HSLDA advocates in state legislatures, at the invitation of state homeschool organizations, by assisting individual states in drafting language to improve their homeschool legal environment and to fight harmful legislation

HSLDA advocates in the media by presenting articulate and knowledgeable spokesmen to the press on the subject of homeschooling.  HSLDA staff members are regularly called upon for radio, television, and print interviews, and their writings are frequently published in newspapers and magazines across the country.  HSLDA's own  bimonthly magazine, The Home School Court Report, provides news and commentary on a host of current issues affecting homeschoolers.  And its two-minute daily radio broadcast, Home School Heartbeat, can be heard on nearly 500 radio stations nationwide.

HSLDA advocates for the homeschooling movement by commissioning and presenting quality research on the progress of homeschooling.  Whether it's in print, from the podium, or on the air, HSLDA provides insightful vision and leadership for the cause of homeschooling.

After a family joins HSLDA, there are no further charges of any kind for defending them in court.  HSLDA pays in full all attorney fees, expert witness costs, travel expenses, and all other court costs permissible by state law for us to pay. 

The vast majority of contacts that member families face are successfully resolved through our early intervention without any court action.  Many times, HSLDA attorneys call or write letters on behalf of members contacted by local officials.  For those who wind up in court, HSLDA provides full representation at every stage of legal proceedings.

As a member, you not only receive numerous tangible benefits, but you also receive the intangible and invaluable blessing of defending liberty for future generations.  Your membership not only works to further your right to homeschool now, but through you, countless other families will enjoy these same liberties as they seek to homeschool their own children in future generations.

To join HSLDA, call 1-540-338-5600 or visit the website at www.hslda.org.  Members of CHEF of NCL receive a discount!

 

Q:

Do I need to keep records?  If so, what type of records?

A:

Yes, even if your child does not plan to attend college, you will need to keep accurate records of your child's academic history.  Some states may require a student's academic records in order to obtain a student's driver's license.  Some auto insurance companies calculate their rates based on the student's records or they may be required for admission to a special program for high school students.  A program your child wishes to attend in the future may not require any documentation at present.  However, the policy may change by the time your child applies for admission. 

A young person's career choice may change many times during the high school years.  Your child may decide not to attend college at all.  Your child may decide to attend a college that requires transcripts or a college that does not require them.  Transcripts might be required when applying for a particular scholarship.  In any case, it is much easier to maintain documentation as one progresses, than it is to backtrack in order to collect the necessary information.

Types of records

Transcripts are documentation of the academic courses your child completed, along with the grades they received.  There are many books, computer programs, and websites that offer various reproducible forms that will help you generate a traditional transcript with instructions on calculating a GPA.

A typical transcript will not be sufficient in recording all of the information you might need or want to compile.  Assemble a portfolio in which you can keep a complete history of your child's high school career.  The documentation you may want to keep in the student's portfolio can include:

  • transcripts
  • annual standardized test scores (CAT, IOWA, Stanford, etc.)
  • scores from college entrance exams (ACT, SAT, etc.)
  • letters of recommendation
  • student essays
  • commendations received through participation in clubs and organizations (4H, Scouts, speech and debate clubs, etc.)
  • certificates earned through instructional courses (CPR, foreign languages, life guard training, etc.)
  • music and dance competition scores
  • records of sports participation and statistics
  • records of employment and apprenticeships
  • records of community service projects and hours of service. 

Anything that shows your child has demonstrated leadership skills, responsibility, ability to learn and to finish a task should be included in your record keeping.  Not all of this material may be necessary, but as stated earlier, you may need it later on.

Q:

How should I withdraw my child from public school?

A:

It is best to inform the principal of the school in writing that you are removing the child from school.  Avoid meetings or phone calls.  Tact is required in presenting a good Christian testimony, especially if a school official is not familiar with home study laws.  If it is in the middle of the school year, returning the textbooks and other school materials may take place after the home study application or the private school letter has been mailed to the State Board of Education.

If you are homeschooling under the private school option, you must notify the school in writing that your child will no longer be enrolled there, but will be attending your private school.  The letter must be sent within 10 days and must include the child's full legal name, birthdate, race, and gender.

If you are registering under the Home Study Program, this letter is not required by law, but it is highly recommended.

Q:

FOR FAMILIES WITH HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS

How does my child finish high school education through the Home Study Program?

A:

The Home Study Program now allows you to issue your child a high school diploma.  Diplomas awarded through an approved Home Study Program are recognized by all post-secondary educational institutions.

 

Q:

How do I put my child back in public school?

A:

Parents who wish to enroll their child in public or private school after home educating are responsible for all documentation.  The Department of Education states in its home study guidelines that it will not offer an opinion as to the student's grade level, achievement level, or appropriate academic placement.  The student will be evaluated and tested to determine the appropriate grade level or credit, even if the parent has already administered a standardized achievement test.

Q:

How does my child finish high school education through the Private School Option?

A:

A Private School in Louisiana may award a diploma to a student when he has met the high school requirements established by the private school. Keep in mind that if you register as a Private School, homeschool Private School diplomas are not recognized by some post-secondary institutions and are not legally recognized as equivalent to public school diplomas. Here is a video clip that explains this in more detail.

Q:

Does my child need a high school diploma?  Should my child get a GED?

A:

A student almost never needs a diploma.  Few academic institutions accept diplomas for admission, and rarely do they or employers ever ask to actually see one.  Academic institutions are most often interested in transcripts.  Stating 'yes' and filling in the name of your home school or even writing 'home school' on the application is sufficient for most employment.  You would, of course, need to research any institution or program that your child may be applying to in order to determine whether or not a diploma is required and if so, whether or not it must be from an accredited institution.  If a diploma from an accredited school is desired, there are distance-learning programs offered by many accredited schools that cater to home educators.  Be sure a particular school's accreditations are recognized in Louisiana and/or by the institution requiring the diploma before enrolling in any program.

 Who issues the Diploma?

Unless your child will require a diploma from an accredited school, you, the parent, acting as administrator/principal of your home school will issue your child their diploma.  (If home schooling under the Private School Option, however, any diploma you issue will not be officially recognized by the State of Louisiana.)  A parent may 'fill-in-the-blanks' on a store-bought preprinted certificate, print a computer generated diploma, order one from a local printer, or purchase an impressive diploma from one of the many internet businesses dedicated to serving home educators.

Should my child get a GED?

If homeschooling under the approved Home Study Program, a GED should never be required since you can legally issue your child a state recognized diploma.  However, even if you are homeschooling under the Private School Option, in most cases it is not necessary (a notable exception right now is Bossier Parish Community College).  There are some situations where it might actually be detrimental.  If your child plans on attending an institution of higher learning of any sort, then you would need to research the institution's admission policies.  Most institutions have developed policies regarding homeschooled students.  Some colleges treat them as equal to GED applicants, while others place additional requirements on persons with a GED than those who homeschool.  The military no longer requires homeschooled students to obtain a GED.

Q:

What about college?

A:

Home educated students are not only welcomed by most colleges and universities, in many cases they are actively recruited.  Studies show that homeschooled students perform well, both academically and socially, in the college environment.

The homeschooling family does not have the multitude of career counselors, financial aid institutions or college recruiters seeking them out, as do the governmental school students.  You will have to search out the information and opportunities for your child.  The preparations for college should begin as early as the 8th grade.

Preparing for college

After investigating the admissions policies of any institutions that interest your child, adapt your curriculum and record keeping to meet those requirements.  Find out which admissions exam, if any, is required and begin making the necessary preparations for taking the test.

Admission exams

In almost all instances, applicants to a traditional 4-year college will be required to submit test scores from either the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or the American College Testing Exam (ACT).  These standardized tests are used by educational institutions to determine admission decisions, course placement (developmental, regular, or advanced) and to counsel students on an appropriate course of study.  These test results may also be used when determining financial aid and scholarship awards.

The SAT is administered at local schools and colleges several times each year.  The current cost is $20 to $43 depending on which version of the test is ordered.  Information on testing sites, test dates, preparation materials, and registration is available online at www.collegeboard.com or call 1-866-756-7346.

The ACT is administered at local schools and colleges several times each year.  The current cost is $35.  Students may register for the test online, find information on test sites and dates, and download free test preparation materials at www.actstudent.org or call to request a registration packet at 1-319-337-1370.

Extra-curricular activities

Involve your homeschooler in extra-curricular activities that interest him or her, or in those that pertain to his or her particular field of study.  Taking part in extra-curricular activities is a very important factor, if not a requirement, in the college admission decision process.  Community and organizational involvement may be factors used by agencies to determine financial aid and scholarship awards.  Participation in these activities will help develop skills necessary for the college bound student.

Most of the clubs and organizations that are open to young people in the government school arena are also open to homeschoolers.  Many also offer scholarships to their members.  There are some activities available to CHEF of NCL members, such as Speech Team or Debate Club.  You might also want to check with a local high school about participation in their programs.

Honor societies

The National Honor Society does not permit homeschoolers to join.  Eta Sigma Alpha National Home School Honor Society (the 1st national homeschool honor society) and The National Society of High School Scholars (founded by Claes Nobel, whose family established the Nobel Prizes) are two honor societies open to home educated students.  For more information about Eta Sigma Alpha, visit their website at www.etasigmaalpha.com.  To begin a chapter of Eta Sigma Alpha in your area, email Barbara Gorman at bjgorman@flash.net or contact her at 1-281-922-0478.  For information about NSHSS, visit their website at www.nshss.org.  For specific information regarding homeschooled students joining NSHSS, contact Maudelle Driskell at maudelle.driskell@nshss.org or call 1-866-343-1800.

 Dual enrollment

Dual enrollment allows advanced high school students to take classes that earn high school and college credit at the same time.  If your homeschooler is ready to take college-level courses, he may be eligible for a dual enrollment program either at a college or through a distance-learning program.  Check with the college admissions office to find out if they offer such a program, what the requirements are, and how many college credits may be obtained.

Obtaining college credit through CLEP, DSST (formerly DANTES), and Departmental Exams

Students may be able to cut short the amount of time required to obtain a college degree and save dollars off tuition expenses by testing out of some college courses.  Most colleges offer credit-by-examination in one of the following ways:

  1. College Level Examination Program (CLEP) offers testing in several college level subjects that allows a student to obtain college credit from life experiences and/or prior education.  There are 2,900+ institutions that grant credit for CLEP.  Information on CLEP may be found at www.collegeboard.com or by calling 1-800-257-9558.
  2. The Dantes Subject Standardized Tests (DSST), formerly known as Defense Activity for Nontraditional Educational Support (DANTES), are used by educational institutions in much the same way as CLEP exams.  Information on DSST may be found at www.getcollegecredit.com or by calling 1-877-471-9860.
  3. To earn departmental credit, students work with a specific department at a college, rather than through the college's admissions office.  Each department creates its own exam.  Speak with the department chair to find out the specifics of any exams they may offer.

 

Q:

 What are some alternatives to traditional college?

A:

Distance-learning programs

For the same multitude of reasons that most persons would choose a distance-learning program (scheduling flexibility, finances, course availability, etc.), it is also an option open to the homeschooled student.  Numerous colleges and universities of all rankings offer distance-learning programs.  Be sure to research the institution's accreditations, policies, and transferability of credits thoroughly before enrolling.

Technical schools

Technical schools offer a student the opportunity to enter the workforce much earlier than traditional colleges.  In many cases, TOPS awards may be used toward the tuition.  Check with the admissions office or with TOPS to find out which schools and programs qualify.

Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are an option for career training.  Seek out qualified persons in the trade or industry that your homeschooler is interested in.  Speak with them about how they received their training and inquire about apprenticeship opportunities.

 

Check out these resources for more information:

 

Q:

Can you give me information about military enlistment for my child?

A:

Most homeschoolers enlisting in the military will be considered Tier 1.  The Tier Classification System is used to clasify new enlistees based on attrition rates.  Homeschoolers who score a 50 or above on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) will automatically be placed in Tier 1.

A GED is no longer required for any branch of the service.  A notarized, parent-generated transcript should be adequate. 

Some recruiters may not be familiar with the regulations concerning homeschooled applicants.  HSLDA recommends bringing along a copy of the GED memorandum found on their website at www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=3820 when visiting the recruiting office.  A press release about homeschooled students being returned to the Tier 1 status might also be of help, and may be found at nche.hslda.org/docs/news/hslda/200707030.asp.  HSLDA's website offers a wealth of helpful information for students interested in joining the military.

Q:

How can homeschooling families take advantage of Louisiana's TOPS scholarship program?

A:

Only BESE Approved Home Study students qualify for TOPS.  A student must have been homeschooled for at least the 11th and 12th grades under the Home Study Program.  Students registered only under the Private School Option do not qualify.  If the student ever enrolled in a Louisiana public high school or nonpublic high school or an approved non-Louisiana high school tat was or has been approved by BESE, the student must have successfully completed both the 11th and 12th grades of a Home Study Program approved by BESE and the previously attended high school must provide LOSFA with certification that the student was in good standing at the time the student last attended that school.

Because of the joint effort between HSLDA, your phone calls, and CHEF of Louisiana's work in the state legislature, TOPS awards are now going to be more accessible for homeschool graduates.  A number of homeschool parents and students testified in favor of the bill, which also contributed greatly to its passage.  Under the new law, a homeschooled student will have to score 2 points higher than public or approved nonpublic school students on the ACT test for a TOPS-Tech or Opportunity Award, but ony 1 point higher on the ACT for a Performance or Honors Award. 

Currently, the minimum ACT scores for a public or approved nonpublic school student to be eligible for TOPS are:

  1. TOPS-Tech Award - 17
  2. Opportunity Award - 20
  3. Performance Award - 23
  4. Honors Award - 27

Thus, a homeschool student is eligible for TOPS scholarships with the following minimum ACT scores:

  1. TOPS-Tech Award - 19
  2. Opportunity Award - 22
  3. Performance Award - 24
  4. Honors Award - 28

This new law is a victory for several reasons.  If the bill had not passed, homeschoolers would have gone back to having to score 3 points higher on the ACT for all TOPS awards.  Additionally, while homeschoolers still have to score higher than their public or approved nonpublic school counterparts, homeschool students are not required to meet the core curriculum requirements established by the State BESE board.

To maintain your TOPS scholarship throughout college, there are certain requirements that must be met.  To find out more about these, please visit the TOPS website at www.osfa.state.la.us or call 1-800-922-1012.  Contact the financial aid office of the institution where your child will apply for information on TOPS as well as other available scholarships.