Quick Overview of Home Educating from Start to Finish
Submit notarized affidavit or an unsworn declaration (not both)
Submit immunization evidence/exemption
Submit educational objectives
For children identified as special needs, submit a preapproval letter from a qualified individual
During the School Year
Hire a qualified evaluator who is willing to complete your child’s evaluation and who respects you and your home educating style
Complete 180 days or required hours (900 elementary; 990 secondary) in the required subject/course areas
Complete standardized testing in grades 3, 5, and 8 in reading/language arts and math; include results in the portfolio for the evaluator to see.
Create a portfolio (see information below)
Ending the School Year
Have the home education evaluation completed for each home educated child
Submit the home education evaluation to the school district by June 30.
For high schoolers, prepare a transcript.
Submit a Home Education Program affidavit to your local superintendent. Fill it out, attach your objectives, add immunization records or an exemption, and get it notarized.
Objectives are organized by subject. All subjects do not need to be covered every year. (Sample below)
Medical and Health requirements are attested to in your affidavit.
Immunization evidence is required of all children, including home education programs. You could, in lieu, submit a religious or philosophical exemption. (Sample below)
Make copies of everything. Submit to your local superintendent. You can mail return-receipt or, if your school district allows, you can email.
Children who are 6 or older on September 1 of the school year should file.
A child who has been in a formal school setting (public school, private school, cyber charter school) should file.
A returning home educated child should file by August 1 of the coming school year.
The Home Education law regarding the affidavit:
24 PS §13-1327.1(b)(1) A notarized affidavit of the parent or guardian or other person having legal custody of the child or children, filed prior to the commencement of the home education program and annually thereafter on August 1 with the superintendent of the school, district of residence and which sets forth: the name of the supervisor of the home education program who shall be responsible for the provision of instruction; the name and age of each child who shall participate in the home education program; the address and telephone number of the home education program site; that such subjects as required by law are offered in the English language, including an outline of proposed education objectives by subject area; evidence that the child has been immunized in accordance with the provisions of section 1303(a) and has received the health and medical services required for students of the child’s age or grade level in Article XIV; and that the home education program shall comply with the provisions of this section and that the notarized affidavit shall be satisfactory evidence thereof. The required outline of proposed education objectives shall not be utilized by the superintendent in determining if the home education program is out of compliance with this section and section 1327. The affidavit shall contain a certification to be signed by the supervisor that the supervisor, all adults living in the home and persons having legal custody of a child or children in a home education program have not been convicted of the criminal offenses enumerated in subsection (e) of section 111 within five years immediately preceding the date of the affidavit.
The Unsworn Declaration
New in 2022!
As an alternative to filing a notarized affidavit, families can file an Unsworn Declaration. It is very similar to the affidavit but does not need to be notarized. After filling it out, send it to your school district’s superintendent and keep a copy for your own records. Send it by certified mail-return receipt along with the educational objectives and preapproval letter (preapproval for special needs-identified only). It is due no later than August 1.
Statement from HSLDA regarding the Unsworn Declaration:
Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:
The home education affidavit fits neatly into the category of documents that can be replaced by an unsworn declaration. Many state agencies are now “catching up” and letting folks know they can skip the notary stamp.
Scott Woodruff, HSLDA Senior Counsel
Additional Sample Unsworn Declarations are also available to HSLDA members on their site and on the PA Dept. of Education website.
The Home Education law states that “an outline of proposed education objectives by subject area” needs to be included with the affidavit/unsworn declaration. (24 PS §13-1327.1(a))
Not all courses need to be covered every year. The courses listed for elementary must be addressed at some point during grades K-6, and, likewise, the courses listed for secondary must be addressed at some point during grades 7-12. The “dangers and prevention of fires” must be done annually. This can be as simple as reminding your children about fire safety around your house. There is no legal definition on the time or breadth of study in courses.
The objectives should be vague to give the supervisor flexibility during the year. The objectives cannot be used to determine your progress. The law states, “The required outline of proposed education objectives shall not be utilized by the superintendent in determining if the home education program is out of compliance with this section and section 1327.” (24 PS §13-1327.1(a))
The subjects or courses in the law are:
24 PS §13-1327.1(c)
(1) 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.
(2) 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 (Curriculum Requirements) of the State Board of Education.
A portfolio is a log, samples, and standardized test results, if appropriate.
The purpose of the portfolio is “to demonstrate that appropriate education” occurred to your evaluator. 24 P.S. §13-1327.1(e)
“Appropriate education” shall mean a program consisting of instruction in the required subjects for the time required in this act and in which the student demonstrates sustained progress in the overall program. 24 P.S. §13-1327.1(a)
A log is “made contemporaneously with the instruction, which designates by title the reading materials used.” 24 P.S. §13-1327.1(e)(1) This is one of the most ambiguous areas of the Home Education program law. What is clear is that it is a list of reading material titles. The titles need to be recorded “contemporaneous with instruction.”
It is not a calendar or attendance chart.
The titles are not required to have authors, page numbers, alphabetized, etc.
Because it is not clear, it is best to have a system that works for your family and your evaluator.
Samples are “any writings, worksheets, workbooks or creative materials used or developed by the student.”
There is no number of samples specified in the law. The portfolio must show progress. Many evaluators believe that a sample from the beginning, middle, and end of the subjects is sufficient.
You do not need samples from every subject. The objective of the portfolio is to “demonstrate sustained progress in the overall program.” Some instruction is immersion learning or play learning, and not easily captured as a sample.
If your child is in 3rd, 5th, or 8th grade, “results of nationally normed standardized achievement tests in reading/language arts and mathematics or the results of Statewide tests administered in these grade levels” must be included in the portfolio.
Only your evaluator sees your child’s portfolio. It is never seen by the school district. The law changed in 2014 which eliminated the school district access to the portfolio (log, samples, and test results). You are encouraged to choose an evaluator who respects your home educating style and does not require overcompliance.
(e) In order to demonstrate that appropriate education is occurring, the supervisor of the home education program shall provide and maintain on file the following documentation for each student enrolled in the home education program:
(1) A portfolio of records and materials. The portfolio shall consist of a log, made contemporaneously with the instruction, which designates by title the reading materials used, samples of any writings, worksheets, workbooks or creative materials used or developed by the student and in grades three, five and eight results of nationally normed standardized achievement tests in reading/language arts and mathematics or the results of Statewide tests administered in these grade levels.
Home Education Testing Requirements
Students in grades 3, 5, and 8 are required to complete an approved standardized test in reading/language arts and math.
Students may participate in the Statewide Tests (PSSA) at their local school district if they choose.
Reach out to the school district early in the school year to ensure a test is ordered for your child.
Scheduling information will be provided by the school district.
For families who choose to not take the PSSA at their local school district, the PA Department of Education has provided a list of approved tests that may be taken at the family’s expense:
California Achievement Test
Comprehensive Testing Program (CTPIV)
Iowa Test of Basic Skills
Measures of Academic Progress (MAP)
Metropolitan Achievement Test
Peabody Achievement Individual Test – Revised Version
Stanford Achievement Test
Woodcock-Johnson Revised Tests of Achievement III
Wechsler Individual Achievement Test III (WIAT-III)
Special Education Information
Children who have been identified as having special needs require a preapproval letter written by a qualified person to be submitted along with the notarized affidavit/unsworn declaration and educational objectives.
Thank you to Maryalice Newborn for her support in providing this information to home educated families.