Welcome to PA Homeschool Law! Literally and figuratively. Since you found your way here, I’ll assume that you live in Pennsylvania or plan to move here soon, have decided to homeschool a child (or are still deciding) and are looking for information to meet the legal requirements to comply with the law.
Although Pennsylvania demands more paperwork than most other states, they are not difficult to meet with a little preparation, organization and simplicity. I like to look at it as a 3 step process and here’s a super-condensed overview of some of the information you’ll find on this site.
As a first step, you should decide whether you are required to file anything. Most parents can begin to homeschool without any communication with the school district because their child has not reached the compulsory education age (or is beyond it). You can read more about that requirement in this article. If you have any questions about whether you are required to file a formal notice with the school district after reading the article (or just don’t feel like reading it), feel free to contact me.
Once you determine that your student meets the compulsory age requirement and you meet the minimum qualifications; 1) you earned a high school diploma or its equivalent and 2) no adult living in your home (including you) has been convicted of the crimes listed in the statute within the past 5 years; you should file a notarized affidavit with a list of objectives with the superintendent of your school district anytime after July 1 and before you begin the home education program. You can find both the affidavit and sample objectives for elementary (up to 6th grade) and secondary students (grades 7-12) on the forms page. Feel free to print the forms and use them as is or use them as a guide to create your own.
Homeschooled students are subject to the same health services requirements under Pennsylvania law as their conventionally-schooled peers. If you do not have a religious or medical exemption to those requirements, you should attach evidence that the child obtained the health services required for the grade level. Some people attach a list of immunizations received to date. Others attach a short note from their family physician that the child received the required health services and the records are on file. If you claim a religious or medical exemption, the appropriate form should be included with the affidavit. You can also find medical, dental and exemption letters on the forms page.
Now that you’ve filed your initital paperwork, you shouldn’t need to interact with the school district again until the following spring or summer.
During the school year, you will keep a log of the materials and resources that the student used and collect samples of any work that your child has created which will demonstrate “sustained progress in the overall program” to an evaluator. You’ll compile these documents, along with results from standardized tests in grades 3, 5 and 8, in a portfolio to be submitted to the superintendent of your school district no later than June 30.
For a detailed discussion about how to keep a log and what is required, read this article.
For some guidance on what to include as samples in your child’s portfolio, go to this article.
For information about choosing an evaluator and the standard of review for the portfolio and home education program, click here.
Finally, the portfolio must contain results of 1 of 10 accepted nationally normed standardized tests in grades 3, 5 and 8. For a discussion and information about which tests are accepted and where to order them, read this article.
I know this seems like a lot of information and reading this one page likely hasn’t convinced you that the requirements are simple or straightforward. I completely understand because I felt the same way when I was beginning to research the Pa Homeschool Law. The best approach is to tackle the process one step at a time. Get the initial filing requirements out of the way and focus on keeping a log and collecting a few samples of the student’s work during the year. In the spring you can concentrate on the evaluation (which shouldn’t be a daunting process) and getting your child tested.
Whatever you do, don’t let these hurdles interfere with enjoying learning at home with your child. These steps will become routine, I promise you.
Have a great year and feel free to contact me with any questions.