If you're wondering what the basic graduation requirements are under Pennsylvania homeschool law, they can be found directly in the text of the statute and are pretty straightforward.
"The following minimum courses in grades 9 through 12 are established as a minimum 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.
24 P.S. § 1327.1(d)
A "year" refers to a is defined in "time requirement" section of the law as a minimum of 180 days or 990 hours of instruction (count days or hours, not both) within the time period between July 1 and June 30 of the following year. So, "year" refers to school year or total time for instruction-not for a single course. For a great explanation on how to award "credit" for a high school course, you might find this article to be helpful.
Supervisor Has Flexibility When Designing The Program
A supervisor of a home education program has wide discretion to decide how to meet the basic requirements listed above and I would encourage you to accommodate your child's preferences, strengths and passions within the framework set forth in the law.
To help you plan HOW to meet the minimum requirements, the law also identifies certain subjects which must be taught during the secondary years (7-12). Please note that while all of the subjects must be covered at some time during grades 7 through 12, the law doesn't require that every course is taught every year.
"(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. 24 P.S. § 1327.1(c)(2)
You may use any curriculum to meet the subject and graduation requirements or design your own. This decision will largely be influenced by the student's plans after completion of the home education program. For example, if your child plans to attend college, some prefer two years of a foreign language, even though it is not required for graduation in Pennsylvania. On the other hand, if the student plans to pursue a trade, the course work may be designed to prepare him for that as long as the minimum graduation requirements are met.
Although certain subjects must be covered during the secondary level (Algebra, Geometry, etc.) the law does not define the length of time or the depth of study. You decide, again, based on the student's future plans. If your child changes plans and a more focused proficiency is required in a particular subject than you planned, he should be able to take the course at the local community college.
Compulsory Attendance Shouldn't Be Confused with Graduation Requirements
It's important to note that Pennsylvania law doesn't require graduation. It only compels attendance in a legally recognized form of education between certain ages.
Compulsory attendance is required for children between the ages of 8 and 17 with a few exceptions that are outlined in the law. Once a child reaches the age of 17, however, he isn't obligated to complete a home education program or graduate. However, I would encourage everyone to complete the home education program since the requirements are so minimal (15 where most public schools require between 21 and 27 to graduate).
The Pennsylvania homeschool law was amended in 2014 to give a diploma issued by the supervisor of a home education program the same rights and privileges as one issued by the Commonwealth. Although many colleges and universities don't require an actual diploma for admission, Pennsylvania state universities do.
The student's plans after high school will determine whether a diploma is required. Some employers may require a diploma, for example. Regardless of whether your child will require proof of graduation in the form of a diploma, completion of a home education program by meeting the basic graduation requirements will affect your child's ability to receive benefits like grants and loans.
Also, if the law doesn't change, a student who doesn't complete a home education program by earning a diploma-even if he goes on to college or a successful career would be prevented from homeschooling his own children in Pennsylvania if he doesn't obtain a GED. (The other parent could if she earned a high school diploma or its equivalent). Just something to think about.
I hope this article clears up any confusion about the basic requirements to graduate from a home education program in Pennsylvania.
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