The requirements for a home education program are complex. This is only a summary.
In a home education program, the child is taught by his or her parent, legal guardian, or legal custodian. The person teaching the child (who is called the “supervisor” of the child's home education program) must have a high school diploma or GED certificate.
Before beginning the home education program, and by or on August 1st each year after the program has begun, the supervisor of the child’s program must file a sworn statement - known as an “affidavit” - with the superintendent of the child’s school district of residence. The affidavit must contain the name of the supervisor, the name and age of each participating child, and the address and phone number for the home. The affidavit must also state that the required subjects will be taught and must contain an outline of proposed educational objectives. Evidence that the child has had the legally required immunizations and has received the required health and medical services (such as annual vision and hearing tests) must also be supplied. The Pennsylvania Department of Education has issued a policy statement, known as a Basic Education Circular (BEC), about home education programs. This BEC includes a sample affidavit of a supervisor of a home education program. This BEC, called “Home Education Program,” can be found at www.pde.state.pa.us (click on “Basic Education Circulars”).
The home education program must provide at least 180 days of instruction per year, or 900 hours (990 hours at the secondary level) of instruction per year. At the elementary level, the child must be instructed in English (including spelling, reading and writing); arithmetic; science; geography; history of the United States and Pennsylvania; civics; safety education (including fire prevention); health; physical education; music; and art. At the secondary level, the child must receive English (including language, literature, speech and composition); science; geography; social studies (including civics, world history, history of the U.S. and Pennsylvania); mathematics (including algebra and geometry); art; music; physical education; health; and safety education.
Upon a supervisor’s request, the school district of residence must lend the supervisor copies of the school district’s textbooks and other curriculum materials appropriate for the student’s age and grade level.
The supervisor of the program must keep a portfolio of the child’s education, including a log showing the reading materials used, and samples of any writings, worksheets and the like. At grade levels 3, 5, and 8, students must be given standardized tests in reading/language arts and mathematics by someone other than the parent. PDE has identified a list of acceptable nationally normed standardized tests. The Home Education Program BEC lists the tests that are acceptable. The results of these tests must be kept in the child’s portfolio.
There must also be an annual written evaluation of the child’s progress, including a review of the material kept in the child’s portfolio, by a licensed psychologist or a certified teacher or a qualified private school teacher. This information must be provided to the superintendent by June 30th of each school year, or upon request.
If, after looking over these materials, the superintendent believes that the child is not being properly educated, the superintendent may ask for further documentation. If the supervisor of the home education program does not submit any further documentation, the child can no longer be educated at home. If additional documentation is submitted, but the superintendent still thinks the
program is not appropriate, the school board must provide for a hearing by an impartial hearing examiner to decide whether the home education program may continue. The hearing examiner’s decision may be appealed to state court.
For more information, call the Office of Counseling and Promotional Standards at 215-400-4810.