Pennsylvania Homeschool Attendance Ages: Children between the age of 8 and 17 are eligible to enroll into a homeschool program within the state of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia residences are eligible to send their child to school at the age of six.
Pennsylvania Homeschool Required Days of Instruction: Oregon requires all students to have at least 180 days or 900 hours at the elementary level of instruction and 180 days or 990 hours at the secondary level.
Pennsylvania Homeschool Required Subjects: Pennsylvania students are required to learn the following subjects:
Elementary level: English, to include spelling, reading, and writing; arithmetic; history of Pennsylvania and United States; civics; health and physiology; physical education; music; art; geography; science; and safety education, including regular and continuous instruction in the danger and prevention of fires.
Secondary level: 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. High school credit requirements: 4 credits of English, 3 credits of math, 3 credits of science, 3 credits of social studies, and 2 credits of arts and humanities.
Parents have five options to teach their children at home:
Option I: Home School Statute.
1. Parent/supervisor must file a notarized affidavit with the local superintendent prior to the commencement of the home education program and annually by August 1 thereafter. The affidavit must include:
a. The name of the parent/supervisor, name and age of child, address, and telephone number;
b. Assurance that subjects are taught in English;
c. Outline of proposed education objectives by subject area;
d. Evidence of immunization;
e. Evidence of health and medical services required by law;
g. A certification that the supervisor, all adults living within the home, and persons having legal custody of the children have not been convicted of certain criminal offenses within the past five years.
The required outline of proposed education objectives shall not be utilized by the superintendent in
determining if the home education program is out of compliance.
2. Any student who has been identified under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as needing special education services (excluding those identified as gifted and/or talented) must have his home education program approved by a state-certified special education teacher or a licensed clinical or certified school psychologist. The written approval must be submitted with the notarized affidavit.
3. Parent/supervisor must annually maintain and provide the superintendent with certain documentation. This is due by June 30th:
a. A portfolio of records and materials. This includes a log, made contemporaneously with the
instruction, which designates by title the reading materials used, samples of any writings, worksheets,
workbooks or creative materials used or developed by the student.
b. An annual written evaluation of the studentís educational progress by
(1) a licensed psychologist,
(2) or a teacher certified by the state (with two years of teaching experience),
(3) or a nonpublic
school teacher or administrator (who must have at least two years teaching experience in the last ten
years in public or nonpublic schools).
At the request of the supervisor, persons with other qualifications may conduct the evaluation with the prior consent of the local superintendent. The evaluation shall be based on an interview and review of the portfolio, and it shall certify whether or not an appropriate education is occurring.
4. If the superintendent determines an appropriate education is not taking place, the parent/supervisor has 20 days to submit additional documentation. If there is still a problem, the family has a right of appeal to an impartial hearing examiner and then to the Secretary of Education or the court.
5. A home education program shall not be considered a nonpublic school under the provisions of this Act.
Alternative Statutes Allowing Home Instruction:
Option II: Private Tutor. Parents may teach their children at home if they qualify as a properly qualified private tutor. This is defined as a person who is certified by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to teach in the public schools of Pennsylvania; who is teaching one or more children who are members of a single family; who provides the majority of the instruction to such child or children; and who is receiving a fee or other consideration for such instructional services.
The private tutor must file a copy of his Pennsylvania certification and the required criminal history record with the studentís district of residence superintendent.
Option III: Day School/Church School. Parents may teach their children at home if the home is an
extension or satellite of a religious day school. Since the law simply states a child must be enrolled, parents may enroll their child in a religious day school, but teach them at home. The day school must do the following:
1. A child enrolled in a day school which is operated by a bona fide church or other religious body, and the parent, guardian or other person having control or charge of any such child or children of compulsory school age shall be deemed to have met the requirements of this section if that school provides a minimum of one hundred eighty (180) days of instruction or nine hundred (900) hours of instruction per year at the elementary level or nine hundred ninety (990) hours per year of instruction at the secondary level and:
a. At the elementary school level, the following courses are taught: English, to include spelling, reading and writing; arithmetic; science; geography; history of the United States and Pennsylvania; civics; safety education, including regular and continuous instruction in the dangers and prevention of fires; health and physiology; physical education; music; and art.
b. At the secondary school level, the following courses are offered: English, to include language,
literature, speech and composition; science, to include biology and chemistry; geography; social
studies, to include civics, economics, world history, history of the United States and Pennsylvania; a
foreign language; mathematics to include general mathematics and statistics, algebra and geometry;
art; music; physical education; health and physiology; and safety education, including regular and
continuous instruction in the dangers and preventions of fires.
2. The notarized affidavit of the principal of any such school, filed with the Department of Education and setting forth that such subjects are offered in the English language in such school, whether it is a nonprofit organization, and that such school is otherwise in compliance with the provisions of this act, shall be satisfactory and sufficient evidence thereof.
3. It is the policy of the Commonwealth to preserve the primary right and the obligation of the parent or parents to choose the education and training for such child. Nothing contained in this act shall empower the Commonwealth, any of its officers, agencies or subdivisions to approve the course content, faculty, staff or disciplinary requirements of any religious school referred to in this section without the consent of said school.
4. Day schools are required to furnish to the local school districts a list of the names and residence of all children between six and 18 years of age enrolled in the school. This information must be provided at the time of admission of the children to the school. Day schools are also required to report the name and date of withdrawal of any student who is still of compulsory attendance age. Additionally, day schools are supposed to report any child who has been absent from school for three days without lawful excuse.
Option IV: Accredited Day School/Boarding School. Parents may teach their children at home if their child is enrolled in an extension or satellite of a day or boarding school accredited by an accrediting association which is approved by the State Board of Education.
Option V: Pennsylvania Religious Freedom Protection Act (RFPA). As a result of
the restrictive home education statute, some homeschoolers have successfully invoked the RFPA,
demonstrating a substantial burden on the free exercise of their religious beliefs.
Pennsylvania Homeschool Teacher Qualification
Parent/supervisor must have a high school diploma or its equivalent if students are not enrolled in a day school.
Pennsylvania Homeschool Standardized Testing
Students enrolled in a home education program (Option I) must be tested with a nationally-normed standardized test approved by the PA Department of Education or the Statewide tests administered to public school students in grades 3, 5, and 8. The results in mathematics and reading/language arts or the results of the Statewide tests must be submitted with the annual portfolio. Tests shall not be administered by the childís parent or guardian. 2
Approved tests are:
California Achievement Test
Comprehensive Testing Program (CTPIV)
Iowa Test of Basic Skills
Metropolitan Achievement Test
Peabody Achievement Individual Test - Revised Version
Stanford Achievement Test
Woodcock Johnson Revised Tests of Achievement III