New to Homeschooling?
The following is a brief outline of the requirements of the Pennsylvania homeschool law (ACT 169-1988 and Act 196-2014). This general outline should not be a substitute for reading the requirements in detail in Keys to Homeschooling in the Keystone State, or the law itself.
A. COMPULSORY SCHOOL AGE
In Pennsylvania, children are required to attend school between 8 and 17 years of age. There is one exception to this law: school districts of the first class in Philadelphia may establish the compulsory school age at six. Philadelphia lowered the age to six beginning with the 2008-2009 school year. This change does not apply to children whose parents plan to use a home education program for their children. They do not need to submit an affidavit until age 8, but the parents must submit an “Intent to Homeschool” letter by age 6 stating that they intend to homeschool and will submit the proper affidavit by the age for homeschooling. 24 P.S. § 21-2103(8).
Throughout Pennsylvania, in order to continue homeschooling each year, the parents must file an affidavit by August 1st of each school year. If the child has never attended public school in grades one or above (kindergarten is not considered a grade in Pennsylvania), the parent must register the child with the school district when s/he turns eight years old. Note that this is a change from past practice. Previously, parents were advised to wait until the following school year to file the affidavit if the child turned 8 more than two weeks after the current school year started. Presently, both HSLDA and Pennsylvania Department of Education agree that the meaning of the law requires the affidavit to be filed if the child will turn 8 at any time during the school year. Some parents prefer to file the affidavit by August 1st if their child will turn 8 during the school year; others prefer to wait until their child’s 8th birthday actually approaches.
Before you begin homeschooling, you must file a notarized affidavit with the school district in which you live. Attached to the affidavit will be your objectives (an educational plan that lists your objectives for each required subject for each child). You must also document that your child has been immunized and is receiving the health and medical services required by law. Each year that you continue to homeschool, you must file a new affidavit on or before August 1st. If your child requires special education, you must attach a letter from a certified special education teacher or psychologist outlining your plans to provide for your child’s needs. Sample Affidavit Form (Click here for additional information)
As you teach your child, you must document instruction by keeping a log of recorded days (180) or hours (900 grades 1-6, 990 grades 7- 12) of teaching, and a portfolio of educational activities. The portfolio should list the titles of reading materials, and include samples of the student’s work such as writings, worksheets, etc., that demonstrate his academic progress.
Each student in grades 3, 5, and 8 must take a standardized achievement test. A listing of the 10 approved tests is contained in the Keys to Homeschooling in the Keystone State. Some school districts may provide testing for homeschooled students, but they are not required to do so. The test scores must be included in the portfolio submitted to the evaluator at the end of the school year, but do not need to be submitted to the school district.
Click here for a list of test administrators throughout Pennsylvania.
Near the end of the school year, parents must have a certified teacher or a non-public school teacher who has taught two of the last ten years, or a licensed psychologist evaluate the student’s work. The evaluator must interview the student and review the log and portfolio to see whether the child has made sustained progress in the overall homeschool program.
The evaluator will then write a brief letter certifying that an *appropriate education is occurring. This letter must then be submitted to the superintendent of your school district no later than June 30. It is wise to contact your evaluator early in the school year to find out what expectations he/she may have of your children. CHAP recommends obtaining a receipt from the school district indicating that your portfolio review letter has been received.
*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.