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Homeschooling in Pennsylvania has been legal since 1988. Parents who choose to teach their children at home under Pennsylvania’s Home Education Law should take the time to review the actual wording of the law. For the actual wording of the law, visit the PA General Assembly site. All other pages only offer a synopsis or are quoting from this site so it is best to go to the source.
In this article, I will be referencing Act 196. This information is my interpretation of the home education law based on my experience as a homeschooling mom and evaluator. I am not a lawyer, and this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice.
Before You Begin Homeschooling
Each year, the parent/guardian needs to submit a notarized affidavit to the Superintendent of the local school district. The first year you are homeschooling, you must submit your affidavit prior to starting the home education program. In subsequent years, the affidavit must be filed on or before August 1.
In addition to the affidavit, you will need to submit objectives for each student and
If your child will not be 6 years old prior to September 1, then you are not required to submit an affidavit & objectives for them unless they were previously enrolled in a brick-and-mortar school. In Pennsylvania, children between the ages of 6 and 18, or when they graduate, must attend school. Educating your child at home is one way to comply with the compulsory school attendance laws. The change to compulsory age went into effect for the 2020-21 academic year.
During the Academic Year
During the academic year, you are focusing on teaching but you also need to be planning for the portfolio, standardized testing, and end-of-year evaluation.
Let’s get the scary part out of the way first – standardized testing. No one other than you and your evaluator ever needs to see the standardized test scores. PA’s home education law states that your student takes a standardized test in grades 3, 5, and 8. There is nothing in the law that says you need to use that data in any way or that the scores even matter, so please do not stress yourself or your student out over this.
For the portfolio, you will need samples of student work and a book log of resources used. Samples of student work mean 2-3 pieces for each subject covered during the year. These samples can take the form of formal assessments, worksheets, papers the student writes, but also photos from field trips, brochures for where you’ve been, and photos of projects. Don’t overthink it. The goal is to show progress over the course of the year.
The book log can take many forms. You can keep all of your “receipts” from checking books out at the library. You can handwrite (or type) a list of the books you use, or you can utilize technology and various apps to track the materials you use. The important part is that you have a list of some sort that shows what books and materials were used to cover the academic subjects.
Ending Your Homeschool Year
At the end of the academic year, the supervisor of the home education program needs to submit the evaluation to the school district on or before June 30. As long as the evaluation is postmarked by June 30 you are good to go.
That means you need to schedule your evaluation to happen before June 30.
Many evaluators open their schedules months in advance. I typically open my calendar in February for spring evaluations. Evaluators work for the supervisor of the home education program, and not the school district. Once your evaluation is completed, the evaluator will provide you with a signed copy of your evaluation. I advise you to make a photocopy for your records. Then send the original to the school district to formally conclude your homeschool year.
Our family likes to submit the end-of-year evaluations along with the affidavit and objectives for the upcoming year. This means I send just one certified packet to the school’s superintendent each year in June.