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Home Education Programs

The Home Education Program Basic Education Circular (BEC) can be reviewed from a link on the list of BECs.

Brief Tour of a Home Education Program

The following topics are covered more fully in their own section of this guide. All laws and regulations that are referenced are located in the Laws and Regulations section of this guide.

A home education program is not considered a nonpublic school under the home education law; it is a program (24 P.S. § 13-1327.1 (b)).

Homeschooling Right

Homeschooling is a right, as long as the required documentation is submitted in the notarized affidavit; the school district's approval is not required (22 Pa. Code § 11.31a).

Once the required documentation is submitted, the school district may not deny the right to homeschool unless a proper hearing has found the home education program to be out of compliance, in which case the home education program can be suspended for up to 12 months (24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(k)–(m)).

Beginning the Program: The Affidavit or Unsworn Declaration

A home education program is commenced by the submission of a notarized affidavit or unsworn declaration to the superintendent's office, in the student's district of residence, by the home education supervisor (parent, guardian or person having legal custody of the child).

The affidavit or unsworn declaration covers the school year (July 1 – June 30) and must be submitted to the superintendent's office no later than August 1 of each school year a child is homeschooled. The exception is the first year a student is homeschooled; that year the home education program may begin at any time, as soon as an affidavit or unsworn declaration and supporting documentation is submitted.

Documenting the Program: The Portfolio

During the school year, the supervisor maintains a portfolio of records and materials, demonstrating that an appropriate education is occurring.

Closing out the School Year: The Evaluation

A written evaluation of the home education program must be submitted by the home education supervisor to the superintendent of schools in the student's district of residence no later than June 30 for the closing school year and should be submitted at the close of the program for those programs that do not take place for an entire school year.

The evaluation by a qualified home education evaluator is to be based on an interview of the student and a review of the portfolio; it must state whether an appropriate education has occurred for the student and document the student's progress while in a home education program.

Age of Enrollment and Attendance

Effective with the 2020-21 school year, a child must comply with compulsory attendance requirements from age six (6) to age eighteen (18). Specifically, a child who has attained the age of six (6) on or before September 1 must enroll and attend school or begin a home education program that year. A home education program must be documented and evaluated to account for all schooling during that time. Students may participate in a home education program as long as they are of school age.

Kindergarten

Kindergarten is not required in Pennsylvania. Parents may choose to submit an affidavit or unsworn declaration for homeschooling their kindergarten child, but it is not required. A school district is not required to accept an affidavit or unsworn declaration for a kindergarten student that has not attained the age of enrollment in the school district of residence, but the parent may choose to submit an affidavit or unsworn declaration and the written evaluation for a kindergarten student to document the student's progress, should the parent wish to enroll the student in the local school district or another school in the future.

Curriculum

Parents have a legal right to borrow copies of the school district's own planned courses, textbooks and other curriculum materials appropriate to the student's age and grade level; these are provided free of charge. There are many other options for obtaining curriculum. If a parent chooses an online program where the program provides grades, evaluations, etc., the parent is still responsible for providing the local school district with an affidavit or unsworn declaration and other required documents and an annual written evaluation of the home education program completed by a qualified evaluator.

Extracurricular Activities

Homeschooled students have the right to participate in the school district's extracurricular activities, subject to meeting the eligibility criteria or its equivalent. They are subject to compliance with all policies, rules and regulations, or their equivalent, of the governing organization of the activity.

Home Education Diplomas

Parents may choose supervisor-issued diplomas (for students graduating since the passage of Act 196 on October 31, 2014) or enroll their children in one of the diploma-granting organizations recognized by PDE. Both options are equally recognized by the state under the guidelines of legislation.

For students who completed their home education programs prior to the passage of Act 196, if the home education student completed the home education graduation requirements but did not affiliate with an authorized diploma-granting organization, the school district is required to submit to PHEAA a certification that the home education program was in compliance with the home education program law so that the student may receive funding.

Transcripts

A home education program has certain legally required courses and standardized testing requirements for completing the elementary level (grades kindergarten - 6) and secondary level (grades 7-12). There also are requirements for a home education graduation. In order to ensure these requirements are met, and to document the homeschool history, transcripts should be kept by the parent. Those diploma-granting organizations that are recognized by PDE also keep transcripts of students enrolled in their organizations in order to award diplomas.

Students with Disabilities

For any child in a home education program who is identified pursuant to the provisions of the Education of the Handicapped Act as amended by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as needing special education services (excluding those students identified as gifted and/or talented), there is additional documentation required which must be submitted with the notarized affidavit or unsworn declaration, detailed in the next section called 'Affidavit or Unsworn Declaration -- Beginning a Home School Program.

If a homeschooled student was found eligible for special education services and the LEA's policy or practices are to provide special education services to home school students, the special education services should be considered and offered in accordance with the individualized education program (IEP) to the extent appropriate.

If the LEA does not offer special education to homeschooled children in practice or policy, they are not required to provide services, but are also not prohibited from doing so.

Special Education Services provided to a homeschooled student is distinct from an LEA's responsibility to provide FAPE.

Parents do not need special skills
A parent has no legal requirement for any particular skill or certification to homeschool a child with special needs. The only limitation is that their affidavit or unsworn declaration must address the specific needs of the child and be approved (24 P.S. § 13-1327(d)).

General IEP information
General information on IEPs is available on the IEPs and 504 Service Agreements webpage.

Standardized Testing

The law requires that homeschooled students take the statewide tests or other authorized tests in grades 3, 5, and 8 without exception. The results must be reported in the portfolio; they are not reported to the school district. PDE publishes a list of acceptable alternative tests on the Home Education and Private Tutoring homepage.

Work Permits

Homeschooled students must apply for work permits from the school district. Detailed information can be read under the School District Responsibilities section.

Support Groups and Resources

Parents of homeschooled students often band together for sharing resources, ideas and planned activities – including graduation exercises. Some of these are formal Homeschool Cooperatives. Check with your homeschool contacts or search the Internet to see whether one of these exists in your area; if not, you may want to start one.

A number of organizations also offer services to homeschooled students, often for a fee. See the Support Groups & Resources on the Home Education and Private Tutoring homepage.

Affidavit or Unsworn Declaration – Beginning a Home Education Program

The notarized affidavit or unsworn declaration and accompanying attachments must be submitted to the superintendent's office in the student's district of residence for a home education program to begin. Without this documentation, a home education program does not legally exist.

When to Submit an Affidavit/Unsworn Declaration

The initial affidavit may be submitted any time during the school year before the program commences, but all subsequent affidavits are due by August 1 (24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(b)(1)).

Year-round Homeschooling

If a parent wishes to teach year-round, the affidavit may be submitted as early as July 1 (24 P.S. § 1-102, "school year") so that the home education program may begin to count the mandatory days or hours. The cut-off date for completion of a school year is June 30, when the evaluation is due to the school district's superintendent of schools (24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(h.1)).

Who Must Submit an Affidavit or Unsworn Declaration

An affidavit or unsworn declaration must be submitted in the following circumstances.

  1. Kindergarten in public school. If a child was enrolled in a public school for kindergarten or above and transferred to a home education program, an affidavit or unsworn declaration and an evaluation is due every year regardless of the age or grade of the child. (PA Supreme Court appeal decision, June 16, 2014 in the Commonwealth of PA v. Jennifer Ann Kerstetter)
  2. Enrolled in any educational option for first grade or above. If a child attended first grade or above in any public or nonpublic school, or the child was enrolled in a private tutoring program for first grade or above, or an affidavit unsworn declaration to homeschool was submitted for first grade or above, an affidavit or an unsworn declaration and an evaluation is due every year regardless of the child's age (24 P.S. § 13-1326).
  3. Six (6) years old. If a child has never been enrolled in any legal educational option (see the Educational Options section), an affidavit must be submitted by the student's sixth birthday. However, school districts have the option of allowing the affidavit to be submitted at the beginning of the next school year, if the child's birthday is after September 1st.
  4. As a general rule, any student who has not attained 17 years of age, and has not graduated, must submit an affidavit. See the Exceptions to Compulsory Attendance section of this guide.

The Affidavit/Unsworn Declaration and its Attachments

The notarized affidavit or unsworn declaration has certain requirements that generally are submitted as separate attachments and there are additional requirements for students with an IEP.  The affidavit requires notarization while the unsworn declaration does not but providing false information on this document is covered under Perjury Statutes..

Obtaining an Affidavit

Sample affidavit/unsworn declaration forms for your use are available on the Home Education and Private Tutoring homepage and contain all and only the requirements of the law. They also are attached to the Home Education Program Basic Education Circular (BEC), which may be accessed from the list of BECs. Additionally, you may use a form provided by your school district or you may create your own affidavit, following the requirements in the home education law.

The home education supervisor is to sign the notarized affidavit or unsworn declaration and submit it to "the superintendent of the school, district of residence;" as such, the supervisor should be prepared to verify that they are residents of that district. See 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(b)(1).

The Affidavit/Unsworn Declaration

The components of the affidavit are stipulated in 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(b)(1), including:

  1. The name of the supervisor of the home education program,
  2. The name and age of the student,
  3. The address and telephone number of the home education program site,
  4. A statement that the mandatory subjects will be taught in the English language,
  5. An outline of proposed education objectives by subject area,
  6. Evidence that the child has been immunized in accordance with section 1303(a),
  7. Evidence that the child has received the health and medical services required for students of the child's age or grade level in Article XIV,
  8. Assurance that the home education program will comply with the law, and
  9. A certification that the supervisor, all adults living in the home and persons having legal custody of the student have not been convicted of the criminal offenses enumerated in subsection (e) of section 111 within five years preceding the date of the affidavit.

Immunizations and Health/Dental Exams and Screenings - Introduction

The law requires all students, including students in a home education program to comply with 24 P.S. § 13-1303(a) and Article XIV School Health Services. For updates in policies regarding immunization, visit the Department of Health's website.

For all students enrolling in a home education program for the first time, the record of the student's immunization (certificate of immunization) must be submitted to and reviewed by the school nurse of the local school district. After this initial review, evidence of immunizations is required for all public school, private school, nonpublic and homeschool students every year.

In lieu of the standard certificate of immunization (green and white form) and medical certificate forms (red and white form), homeschool parents/legal guardians must submit at least one of the three documents listed below to satisfy the immunization record requirement:

  1. The actual records, which show the record or history of immunization, including the month, day and year that immunizations were given, or
  2. (After the initial records or certificate of immunization has been reviewed by the school nurse of the local school district) A letter from a physician or physician's designee stating the legal requirements have been fulfilled or that there exists a medical condition that prevents immunization, or
  3. A letter stating that the parent/legal guardian objects to immunizations on religious grounds or on the basis of strong moral or ethical convictions, similar to religious beliefs.

The certificate of immunization form used by many school districts also has a 'Statement of Exemption' section that can be completed by a physician (medical exemption) or by a parent/legal guardian (religious/strong moral or ethical conviction exemptions).

Timeline for submitting documents

Homeschool parents must submit this information before starting a home education program and by August 1 for subsequent years of the home education program, along with the affidavit/unsworn declaration and other required documentation, such as a medical certificate (known as the red and white form), which sets out a schedule of any remaining doses of immunizations.

Exemptions to Immunizations

The only exemptions to this regulation are based upon medical exemptions (i.e., a child undergoing chemotherapy and scheduled for a dose of a live virus immunization as this would not be medically appropriate) or on religious grounds or on the basis of strong philosophical, moral or ethical convictions, similar to religious beliefs (See 28 Pa. Code § 23.84).

Resources

For students that have no insurance or are underinsured, there is a program called Vaccines for Children (VFC) (1-888-646-6864) that provides access to immunizations at federally funded health centers, rural health clinics, and through certain providers participating in the program.

Health Screenings, Physicals, and Dental Exams

All public, private, nonpublic, and homeschool students of school age must have certain health screenings (vision, hearing, height/weight for calculation of body mass index, tuberculosis, and scoliosis), comprehensive physicals, and dental examinations at specified time frames as set forth in Article XIV (School Health Services) and in regulations (28 Pa. Code Chapter 23). A complete schedule of exams has been furnished under the Resources section below. The Department of Health's website provides information on the requirements, guidelines and sample forms for the required exams and screenings that can be accessed using the links listed in the Resources section.

Homeschool families may schedule appointments for these screenings with the local school district nurse or the district's contracted health care professional when the screenings/exams are being conducted at the schools. Homeschool families may also schedule comprehensive physicals and dental examinations with private health care providers, but these physicals and dental examinations must be performed no more than four months prior to the year in school for which the exam is mandated. (See 24 P.S. § 14-1419 for other considerations related to exams).

As with immunizations, the results of these screenings must be submitted to the school district at the beginning of a home education program or by August 1 for subsequent years of the home education program along with the affidavit and other required documentation.

Resources

Medical record regulations are defined in Additional Documentation for Students with Disabilities.

For any child identified by the provisions of the Education of the Handicapped Act as amended by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as needing special education services (excluding those identified as gifted and/or talented), the program must address the specific needs of the student with a disability and be approved by a teacher with a valid certificate from the Commonwealth to teach special education or a licensed clinical or certified school psychologist. This written notification of approval must be submitted with the notarized affidavit or unsworn declaration (24 P.S. § 13-1327(d)). For further information, see the Student with a Disability section of this guide. A parent has the option of revoking consent in writing for their child's receipt of special education services pursuant to 34 CFR 300.9.

Outline of Proposed Education Objectives by Subject Area

The outline is like a "game plan" for the coming school year and may be similar to a table of contents. It cannot be used in determining whether an appropriate education has taken place (24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(b)(1)). This is an individualized home education program and is not required to follow the same curriculum order as the school district.

Portfolio – Tracking a Home Education Program

A portfolio documents that the compulsory attendance laws have be observed and that the student has made sustained progress in the overall home education program (24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(a),(c),(e)).

Portfolios are required of all homeschooled students covering the period of time when they are of compulsory school age (students who have attained age six by September 1 until they attain the age of 18 or have graduated (24 P.S. § 13-1326). In order for a student to receive a home education high school diploma that is recognized by the state, an affidavit and evaluation must be submitted to the superintendent of schools in the student's graduating year.

Minimum Portfolio Requirements

  1. Samples of any writings, worksheets, workbooks or creative materials used or developed by the student; and
  2. A log, made contemporaneously with the instruction, which designates by title the reading materials used.

The log must demonstrate that the home education program provided a minimum of either (1) 180 days of instruction or (2) 900 hours of instruction per year at the elementary level (grades kindergarten to 6), or 990 hours per year at the secondary level (grades 7-12). See 24 P.S. §13-1327.1(c). If the choice is to document days, the portfolio does not need to specify the number of hours each day. For students in grades three, five, or eight, the results of the statewide tests (PSSAs) or other authorized nationally normed standardized achievement tests (a list of approved tests is provided on the Home Education and Private Tutoring homepage). See the Standardized Testing section of this guide.

  1. A written evaluation from a qualified home education evaluator verifying whether the student has had an appropriate education. It is the responsibility of the parent to pay for any charge for this service. See the Evaluators section of this guide.

Example Format

Parents sometimes ask what the portfolio should look like. One simple suggestion for maintaining the portfolio is to use a three-ring binder, inserting dividers for (1) the log, (2) the results of the standardized test (for grades three, five and eight), (3) the evaluation, and (4) sample work products for all subjects taught. There are many other options.

Students above Age 18

Compulsory attendance laws require students to attend school until they are 18 years old or have graduated; therefore, a portfolio must be submitted to provide evidence of compliance with compulsory attendance laws up to age 18. If a student ceases to homeschool after they turn 18, the portfolio still must be submitted for the period before the eighteenth birthday.

Sometimes supervisors of home education programs question whether they need to continue to document their child's work once the child has turned 18, or whether it is acceptable simply to submit the portfolio covering the work up to that age.

It is permissible to document only the work completed up to the eighteenth birthday, but there are diploma and Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) considerations. A student cannot obtain a state-recognized diploma from the home education supervisor or an approved diploma-granting organization unless they provide the affidavits or unsworn declarations and evaluations to the school district and until the graduation requirements are completed. See the Curriculum and Diplomas sections of this guide

However, the student may receive a Commonwealth Secondary School Diploma by passing a high school equivalency test or completing of 30 college level credits from a United States accredited postsecondary institution. PHEAA will accept these.

Evaluation – Closing Out a Home Education Program

An appropriate education is defined as "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." The portfolio evaluation certifies whether an appropriate education occurred.

  1. What: A written evaluation by a qualified evaluator must be submitted for each student. See the Home Education Evaluators section regarding a qualified evaluator.
  2. Who: The evaluation must be submitted by the home education supervisor to the superintendent of the school district of residence.
  3. When: The evaluation must be submitted by June 30 of each year for full year programs and should be submitted at the end of the program for those programs that do not take place for an entire school year.
  4. Basis: The evaluation must consist of a portfolio review and interview with the student.
  5. Contents: The evaluation must certify whether an appropriate education is occurring for that student.
  6. Law: See 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(e),(h.1).

Scheduling an Evaluation

Identify an evaluator very early in the school year and schedule an appointment with that person for the evaluation to ensure that the evaluation is not late in being submitted to the superintendent. It is the responsibility of the parent to pay for any charge by an evaluator for this service.

Finding an Evaluator

The Department does not keep a list of evaluators. One may be found by as asking other homeschooling friends or acquaintances, searching the Internet for "PA homeschool evaluators," or asking the school district for a recommendation. A number of homeschool organizations also list evaluators. It may be more convenient to select an evaluator in your area, but it is not necessary.

Diploma Considerations in Selecting an Evaluator

Act 196 of 2014, which established state-recognized diplomas issued to homeschooled students by their home education supervisor, requires the diploma to be co-signed by the twelfth grade evaluator (24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(d.1)(1)(i)).

Considering this, a parent may want to establish that the individual they select to evaluate the portfolio in the twelfth grade is willing to co-sign the diploma. If the evaluator is not willing to do so but their evaluation is submitted to the superintendent, a state-recognized diploma issued by the supervisor is no longer possible; the only individual that may co-sign the diploma is the student's twelfth grade evaluator.

Contents of the Evaluation

The law requires only that the evaluation certify whether an appropriate education is occurring.

Prior to Act 196 of 2014, school districts kept a record of completed homeschool courses. Since the portfolio no longer is submitted to the school district, the school district does not track the mandatory courses that have been completed by the student toward graduation.

Additionally, since the twelfth grade evaluator must co-sign the diploma, evaluators may expect documentation that substantiates the courses that were completed during grades 9-11 if they were not the evaluators for those years. Therefore, a parent may want to ask each year's evaluator to sign a detailed list of the courses evaluated for that year. This list can be provided to the twelfth grade evaluator to confirm completion of the mandatory courses, not personally reviewed by the evaluator, in order to sign the diploma.

This detailed evaluation also may be useful in instances where a student enrolls in a public or private school and evidence of previously completed courses is required.

If desired, a separate evaluation may be completed for submission to the superintendent that simply states whether an appropriate education has occurred. If the evaluation states that the student has completed the graduation requirements for a home education program, the school district can make a notation in the student's record so that if the evaluator-signed diploma is lost, a secondary confirmation is available.

Students above Compulsory School Age

As a result of Act 196 of 2014, a high school diploma awarded by a home education supervisor or an approved diploma-granting organization has the same legal rights and privileges as a diploma awarded by any school in Pennsylvania.

Prior to this legislation, affidavits and portfolios were submitted to provide verification of compliance with compulsory attendance laws. As a result of Act 196, the submission of an affidavit and evaluation to the superintendent of the school district of residence now is a requirement for a state-recognized high school diploma awarded by the supervisor of a homeschooled student or an approved diploma-granting organization.

Since affidavits and evaluations serve a greater purpose than simply verifying compliance with compulsory attendance laws (necessary until age 18), any student of school age may begin and continue in a home education program.

School age is defined as continuing until graduation from high school or the end of the school term in which a student reaches the age of 21 years, whichever occurs first (22 Pa. Code §11.12).

Exceptions to Compulsory Attendance

Compulsory attendance is required until a child is 18 years old, with some exceptions. An affidavit must be submitted for any student who is of compulsory attendance age and an evaluation is due to the superintendent for any time spent in homeschooling until the student is 18 or they have graduated from the home education program.

Regardless of the student's age, it is advantageous to continue to submit an affidavit and evaluation until graduation. Unless an affidavit and evaluation are submitted for the senior year, the student cannot be awarded a state-recognized diploma.

The term "compulsory attendance" refers to the mandate that all children of compulsory school age having a legal residence in Pennsylvania must attend a day school in which the subjects and activities prescribed by the standards of the State Board of Education are taught in the English language, except in the following situations found in sections 1327, 1327.1, and 1330 of the School Code:

  1. Attendance at a private trade school or private business school continuously through the entire term congruent with the school term of the resident school district and that meets the requirements set forth by the State Board of Education or the State Board of Career and Technical Education when:
    • The child is 15 and has approval from the district superintendent and the Secretary of Education, or
    • The child is 16 and has approval from the district superintendent.
  2. Attendance at a school operated by a bona fide church or other religious body which provides a minimum of 180 days of instruction or 900 hours of instruction per year at the elementary level or 990 hours per year of instruction at the secondary level.
  3. Privately tutored or home-schooled students provided a minimum of 180 days of instruction or 900 hours of instruction per year at the elementary level or 990 hours per year of instruction at the secondary level.
  4. Enrollment in a day or boarding school which is accredited by an accrediting association approved by the State Board of Education.
  5. Children who are 16 and regularly engaged in useful and lawful employment during the school session with a valid employment certificate. Regularly engaged means 35 or more hours per week of employment.
  6. Children who have been examined by an approved psychological professional and identified to be unable to profit from further public school attendance and excused by the school board.
  7. Children who are 15 who hold a permit approved by the school district to engage in farm work or domestic service in a private home.
  8. Children who are 14 and satisfactorily completed the equivalent of the highest grade of elementary school in their district who hold a permit recommended by the district and approved by the Secretary of Education to engage in farm work or domestic service in a private home.

Kindergarten

Pennsylvania does not have compulsory attendance for kindergarten.

Since kindergarten is not required, some parents prefer to teach their child the kindergarten subjects and then enroll them in first grade once they attain the age of 5 years and 7 months by September 1 (24 P.S. § 13-1304).

If a child is homeschooled, a school district is not required to accept an affidavit or unsworn declaration for kindergarten before the child attains the age of enrollment set by the school district.

Age of Enrollment and Attendance

Effective with the 2020-21 school year, a child must comply with compulsory attendance from ages six to 18, or until graduation. Homeschooling must be documented and evaluated to account for all schooling during that time.

Students become of compulsory school age, regardless of age, in these circumstances:

  1. The student is enrolled in a public school in kindergarten or above, or
  2. The student is enrolled in a private school or private tutoring program in first grade or above, or
  3. The parent has submitted an affidavit for a home education program for first grade or above.

Students may begin a new home education program or continue in a home education as long as they are of school age (graduation or the end of the school term in which the student reaches the age of 21, whichever comes first; 22 Pa. Code § 11.12).

Age versus Grade

Since the affidavit or unsworn declaration is based on age, sometimes parents, evaluators and school districts are concerned about fulfilling their obligations when a family chooses to declare only the age of the student and not a grade. These obligations include submission of standardized testing results in the portfolio, and submission of evidence of immunizations and health and medical services to the school district.

In a home education program, the parent determines the course of study for their child. This program may or may not correspond to a specific grade overall.

The child's program may span more than one grade, depending on the subject. The mandatory courses are not grade-specific, they are level-specific. These courses are defined for the elementary grades (K-6) and the secondary grades (7-12).

Comparing the age of the child with the law and regulations, in conjunction with a yearly review of the portfolio contents, may help reasonably infer an approximate grade in determination of the various grade-specific requirements of the laws and regulations.

Home Education Divisions

24 P.S. § 13-1327.1 (c)-(d) (Home education recognized levels)

  1. The elementary level is grades kindergarten through six (K-6).
  2. The secondary level is grades seven through twelve (7-12).

Elementary Level

22 Pa. Code § 4.21 (Elementary education: primary and intermediate levels)

  1. The primary program (grades K-3) shall ordinarily be completed by children who are approximately 8 years of age.
  2. The intermediate level program (grades 4-6) shall ordinarily be completed by children who are approximately 11 years of age.

Secondary Level

22 Pa. Code § 4.22 (Middle level education)

  1. The middle level planned instruction aligned with academic standards serves children who are approximately 11—14 years of age.

22 Pa. Code § 4.23 (High school education)

  1. High school (grades 9-12) is above age 14.

Home Education Curriculum

Children are homeschooled for a variety of reasons and some of these reasons may dictate the type of educational materials selected. For example, a family may be interested in a classical education or perhaps a faith-based curriculum.

Some options provide both curriculum and secondary oversight of the work (parents exercise primary oversight); these options are referred to as "umbrella schools." When using an umbrella school, care must be taken to ensure the mandatory courses and graduation requirements defined by law are met; specific programs may need to be augmented to ensure this.

If a student begins a home education program after having been enrolled in a public or private school, all courses completed also apply to the home education program. See the section Umbrella Schools for more information.

Mandatory Courses

Elementary school level (grades K-6), mandatory courses: 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.

Secondary school level (grades 7-12), mandatory courses: 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.

Note: the Chapter 5 (Curriculum Requirements) of the State Board of Education, mentioned in 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(c) as a resource to find other age-appropriate courses, has been repealed and replaced with Chapter 4 Academic Standards and Assessment (22 Pa. Code Chapter 4). Therefore, supervisors may consult 22 Pa. Code Chapter 4 for information regarding age- appropriate courses.

Graduation Requirements

The following minimum courses in grades nine through twelve are established as a 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

Resources

There are sources for obtaining curriculum and support for a home education program.

School District Resources

A parent may choose to take advantage the planned courses, textbooks and other curriculum materials appropriate to the student's age and grade level used by the school district. These are available for borrowing simply by requesting them; there is no fee and the school district is legally required to lend them. See 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(f).

Additional Resource Suggestions

  1. Public or private libraries
  2. Curriculum that may be purchased from many diverse sources
  3. Private cyber schools or other online courses
  4. Correspondence courses
  5. Umbrella schools
  6. Homeschool cooperatives (Co-Ops)
  7. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
  8. Dual enrollment in classes at the public school district (at the discretion of the district)
  9. Enrollment in universities or other higher educational choices
  10. Selective classes at a private school (cannot be dually enrolled)
  11. Individuals who specialize in particular subjects
  12. Relatives
  13. Self-developed materials
  14. Internet materials 

Note: all of these options are categorized as resources for home education programs and the source of educational materials is the supervisor's prerogative.

Homeschool co-ops are a great source of information for obtaining curricular materials, along with providing various kinds of support for those who homeschool. Some of these are listed on our Home Education and Private Tutoring homepage (Support Groups and Resources).

All that is necessary for obtaining credit for work completed in a home education program, regardless of the source of the curriculum, is for evidence of the work completed to be demonstrated in the portfolio. It is not necessary for the supervisor of the home education program to deliver all instruction personally.

Dual Enrollment of Homeschooled Students

A school district may allow students who are homeschooled (or privately tutored) to attend curricular classes in the district's schools, although they are not legally required to do so (22 Pa. Code § 11.33). Credits taken by dual enrollment also count toward mandatory course completion and graduation requirements in the home education program.

School districts may have written policies regarding participation of homeschooled students in curricular programs, such as career and technical educational programs, science classes, computer labs, the arts, and foreign language courses. Please contact your local school district for this information. Unlike extracurricular activities, the provision of these services is at the discretion of the school district and not mandated (22 Pa. Code § 11.41).

The particular courses and the number of classes a homeschooled student may take by dual enrollment are determined by each school district's policy.

If a class taken by dual enrollment has an associated standardized test associated (e.g., Keystone exam, PSSA), the dually enrolled student must take the test unless they opt out for religious reasons via the provision of 22 Pa. Code § 4.4 (d)(4).

Students taking a class with the school district by dual enrollment will be assigned a PAsecureID because they are counted with the school district in the Pennsylvania Information Management System (PIMS).

Concurrent Enrollment of Homeschooled Students

Concurrent enrollment is a program administered and developed by a school entity (such as a school district or an area career and technical educational school) and an eligible postsecondary institution that allows students to concurrently enroll in postsecondary courses and to receive both secondary and postsecondary credit for that coursework. The term includes an early college high school program, a gateway to college program or a middle college high school program (24 P.S. § 16-1602-B "Concurrent enrollment program").

Concurrent enrollment programs are open to students who are enrolled in a school district, a charter school, an area career and technical educational school, a nonpublic school, a private school or a home education program (24 P.S. § 16-1602-B "Concurrent student").

Concurrent enrollment programs have not been funded by the state for a number of years. However, 24 P.S. § 15-1525 and 22 Pa. Code § 11.5 are not the same as a concurrent enrollment program and participation by homeschooled students is at the discretion of the school district for this option.

Private Schools

Home school students may take selective classes from a private school, but this is at the discretion of the private school.

Standards

Homeschool parents sometimes ask what content is appropriate to a given course. PA has certain standards which a homeschool parent may wish to explore in planning their own program. Nothing requires a home education program to contain the same course content or to offer courses in the same order as the public school regulations.

CHAPTER 4. ACADEMIC STANDARDS AND ASSESSMENT (22 Pa. Code Chapter 4)

contains standards and rubrics for curriculum content for public school's students in various grades.

HINT: On the webpage for Chapter 4 and Appendices, rather than using the hyperlinks at the top of the webpage, scroll down to the bottom of the page where there are assessment rubrics for various grade levels.

The appendices contain assessment rubrics for: (A) Reading; writing; speaking and listening; characteristics of the English language; research. (B) Science and technology. (C) Civics; government; economics; geography; history. (D) Arts and humanities; health; health, safety and physical education; family and consumer services. (E) Career education and work.

Additionally, the PA Core Standards contain these rubrics in PDF format and can be downloaded and printed. The PA Core Crosswalks drills down for more detail.

Transferring to Public/Private School

If a student enrolls in a public or private school after homeschooling, there must be a determination of the grade level into which the child will be assigned and/or the high school credits to be accepted.

School Policy Determines Grade

Although the homeschool supervisor determines the grade of a homeschooled student (if declared), when the student transfers into a public or private school, the school in which the child enrolls determines the grade to which the student will be assigned and/or the high school credits that will be accepted from home education work, pursuant to school policy. There are no laws or regulations governing the acceptance of home education work; it is at the discretion of the school. However, school districts are to have written policies (22 Pa. Code § 11.41).

Verification of Homeschool Credits

The evaluations of homeschooled students are submitted each year to the superintendent for verification that an appropriate education has taken place. If the yearly evaluations do not list the completed courses in the home education program, the school will have no record of courses completed that can be used as guidance toward grade placement or graduation.

In these situations, possibly a district may ask to see the portfolios they have not reviewed since the passage of Act 196 or ask for a formal evaluation that lists the completed courses so that the school district can accept credit for them. Otherwise, schools no longer have the same grounds for placement as when they reviewed portfolios.

Acceptance of Homeschool credit

School districts have a wide range of solutions for the determination of acceptance of credits from transferring homeschooled students. Below are some examples.

  1. Some schools accept all home education credits.
  2. Some schools do not accept any home education credits.
  3. Some schools accept home education credits for any classes the school also offers.
  4. Some schools accept home education credits for classes the school offers but also assign general education credits for classes the district does not offer.
  5. Some schools allow students to test for credit.

Extracurricular Activities

A school district must allow homeschooled students in their district to participate in the district's extracurricular activities. These are the activities that are subject to the provisions of 24 P.S. §5-511, including, but not limited to, clubs, musical ensembles, athletics and theatrical productions, interscholastic athletics, varsity sports and intramural sports, with certain qualifications. The law does not require a school district to allow participation in certain activities such as the senior prom, commencement exercises, or music classes/lessons which are considered a graded course; these are decisions made at the local school district level.

The law also includes all activities related to competitive sports contests, games, events or exhibitions involving individual students or teams of students whenever such activities occur between schools within the school district or between schools outside of the school district.

If the activity requires completion of a physical examination or medical test as a condition of participation and the school district offers the physical examination or medical test to students enrolled in the school district, the school district must permit a child who is enrolled in a home education program to access such physical examination or medical test. The school district is required to publish the dates and times of these physical examinations or medical tests in a publication of general circulation in the school district and on its publicly accessible Internet website.

In order to participate, the student must:

  1. Meet the eligibility criteria or their equivalent for participation in the activity that apply to students enrolled in the school district,
  2. Meet the tryout criteria or their equivalent for participation in the activity that apply to students enrolled in the school district, and
  3. Comply with all policies, rules and regulations or their equivalent of the governing organization of the activity.

See 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(f.1).

Transcripts

As you track the progress of your homeschooled students to ensure compliance throughout their homeschool participation, you may consult the Mandatory Courses section of this guide for the requirements (24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(c1),(c2),(d)):

  1. Elementary level students (K-6)
  2. Secondary level students (7-12)
  3. Graduation requirements

Sometimes a simple spreadsheet, similar to the following example, can be used to track the completed requirements over the student's career. The first column contains all the mandatory course requirements, next columns contain year completed, a column for any comments (e.g., source of course such as taken by dual enrollment, college course, etc.), and perhaps a signature column for the evaluator who reviewed the course. Alternately, a grade could be assigned in place of a simple indication that the course was completed.

(Secondary level)202W202X
202Y202Z
Comments
Evaluator
Algebra IX     
Geometry X    
Fire PreventionXX    
General ScienceX     
Geography X    
Physical Education X    
HealthX     
OtherXX    

Students with a Disability

The Affidavit or Unsworn Declaration

When the affidavit or unsworn declaration is submitted for a student with a disability, it must be accompanied by a written notification of approval that the specific support needs of the student with a disability are addressed by the program. See 24 P.S. § 13-1327(d).

The parent has a choice of who will assure that the educational program addresses the needs of their child, and may be any of the following:

  1. A teacher with a valid certificate from the Commonwealth to teach special education,
  2. A licensed clinical psychologist, or
  3. A certified school psychologist.

The law does not stipulate that the certification must be active, but only that it exists. This is similar to the regulation for evaluators of home education programs and private tutors, neither of which are required to be current in Act 48 professional development credits (24 P.S. § 12-1205.1(e)).

The supervisor of the home education program has the right to choose anyone to provide the approval letter that must accompany the affidavit, as long as that individual meets the vocational criteria.

School District Support

If you believe your child has a disability and is in need of special education services, but has not been evaluated, the school district in which you reside is required to evaluate the child, without charge, when you make such a request in writing. The district must explain the results of the evaluation to you. If the district does not provide this service when requested to do so, the supervisor may contact the PDE special education consult line at 1-800-879-2301.

If you desire special education support services, the provision of services is a local decision and must be agreed to by both the supervisor and the school district or intermediate unit. All services shall be provided in the public schools or in a private school licensed to provide such programs and services; these services will not be provided in your home (24 P.S. § 13-1327(d)).

School districts and intermediate units are not required to provide support but may at their discretion.

Revocation of Consent for Special Education Services

If a parent revokes consent for the receipt of special education services for their homeschooled child, the requirement for pre-approval of the educational plan no longer applies and the school district will not provide special education services.

Revocation of consent for the receipt of special education services is submitted in writing to the school district by the parent. If this is requested, the child no longer will be identified as a child with a disability under the IDEA and opting out of the designation closes the door to other state and federal assistance programs. If the school district is providing support for this child at their discretion, they must issue a Notice of Recommended Educational Placement / Prior Written Notice (NOREP/PWN) to the parents.

Standardized Testing

Homeschooled students in grades 3, 5, or 8 must take, and report in their portfolio, the results of the statewide tests or another nationally normed standardized achievement test in reading/language arts and mathematics (24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(e)(1)).

At the discretion of the supervisor, the portfolio may include the results of nationally normed standardized achievement tests for other subject areas or grade levels. The current "Statewide tests" include both the PSSAs and the Keystone exams.

Supervisors of home education students are not required to state a reason for not selecting the statewide tests. However, the statewide tests may be taken at their school district without cost to the homeschooled student whereas parents must bear any cost for an alternative test and its administration. The home education supervisor, a parent or a guardian of the child may not administer the alternative test. Your evaluator may request the name of the person who administered or proctored the test, along with the results of the test.

The Department must provide at least five (5) alternative tests in place of the statewide test. A list of approved alternative tests is provided on the Home Education and Private Tutoring homepage and in the Home Education Program Basic Education Circular (BEC), accessible from the list of BECs.

Supervisors of home education programs must ensure that all required standardized testing is administered at the appropriate time in the student's education, regardless of whether they have covered the usually grade-specific material in a different order or on an accelerated path. If, for example, a student was able to cover both fourth and fifth grade material in one year or fifth and sixth grade material in one year, the fifth grade standardized test results would be due in the portfolio that year.

PSSA and PASA Testing Dates

A student may take the PSSA or PASA state assessment through their school district in order to fulfill the standardized test requirement. The supervisor should notify the school district early in the school year if the PSSA or PASA is to be taken so the school can order the extra tests and arrange for the test administered.

The calendar for the PSSA and PASA is available on the PDE website.

Accommodations for a Student with a Disability

The supervisor of the home education program is responsible for determining whether the test publisher allows for accommodations on the particular test and to ensure that the publisher's policies are followed.

See also The Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA) for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, intended for those who are unable to participate meaningfully in the PSSAs.

Keystone Exams

The Keystone Exams are end-of-course assessments designed to assess proficiency in the subject areas of Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Literature, English Composition, Biology, Chemistry, U.S. History, World History, and Civics and Government.

Homeschooled students are not required to take the Keystone Exams, but supervisors of home education programs may request that their students take these "Statewide tests" along with the school district, if they so desire. The supervisor should notify the school district early in the school year if the Keystone Exams are to be taken so the school district can order the extra tests and arrange for where the test will be administered.

Additional information regarding the Keystone Exams can be found on the Standards Aligned System (SAS) portal. The schedule of exams is provided at this site.

School Year

The school year is from July 1 of the year until June 30 of the following year (24 P.S. §1-102).

The school year defines when a home education program may begin counting days or hours toward compulsory attendance laws for the new school year (July 1) and when the portfolio and evaluation is due at the end of the school year (June 30). Some parents may elect to institute year-round homeschooling; this could begin as early as July 1, as long as the appropriate documentation has been submitted to the district. See the Beginning the Program: The Affidavit or Unsworn Declaration section of this guide.

A home education program may begin a course late in one school year and complete it in the next school year. For example, if a student completes Algebra I early in the school year, they are free to begin Algebra II immediately, if desired. If Algebra II is not completed by the end of that school year would continue into the next school year. Whatever is completed by the time the portfolio is submitted would be reported in the portfolio for that year.

Homeschool Cooperatives

Parents of homeschooled students often associate with one another in formal and informal settings known as homeschool cooperatives (co-ops). Parents use these associations for many reasons: e.g. to keep updated on the laws affecting homeschooling families; to trade or purchase books and other curricular materials; to group together for various kinds of field trips, events, or extracurricular activities; to share the responsibilities of teaching their children in areas of expertise; and to generally encourage and support one another.

A list of many of these organizations is posted on our Home Education and Private Tutoring homepage with the link Support Groups and Resources.

Due to the passage of Act 15 of 2015, volunteers in certain of these co-ops will need to have background checks. The background checks for these volunteers are covered under the Department of Human Services (DHS) (717-783-6211) and will be free to the volunteer.

Background checks must be renewed every five years. Please contact DHS for more details.

The process for background checks for volunteers is similar to that for teachers, with some exceptions. Here are the three clearances and how they are reported:

  1. PA State Police (PSP) Request for Criminal Records Check (Act 34 of 1985 and Act 114 of 2006): go to the ePatch website and complete the Pennsylvania Access To Criminal History (PATCH) check (click the New Record Check button for Volunteers only). As long as the check does not go into review, the results can be printed immediately, and multiple copies can be printed to be submitted to your organization. This is free for volunteers.
  2. Department of Human Services Child Abuse History Clearance (Act 151 of 1994): select the accompanying link, complete the form electronically, and then print and mail to the indicated address. The results will be sent to the volunteer and the original results must be presented to person in the organization who is responsible for background checks. The organization will make a copy for their files. The volunteer is not allowed to make the copies. This is free to volunteers once every 57 months.
  3. Federal Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) (Act 24 of 2011): see the https://uenroll.identogo.com/ website to register using the following service code for volunteers (1KG6ZJ) on this fingerprint-based criminal history submitted through the PA State Police or its authorized agent (FBI). Fingerprinting cannot be completed online, and you must pre-register (online or by calling 1-844-321-2101). Volunteers need only submit fingerprinting if they have not lived in PA for the last 10 years.

Volunteers still must provide their organization's designee with written notice, utilizing the Arrest/Conviction Report and Certification form (PDE-6004), for any arrest or conviction for an offense enumerated under 24 PS 1-111(e) provided for in clause 24 PS 1-111 (j)(1) not later than seventy-two (72) hours after an arrest or conviction.