VaHomeschoolers Legislative Report June 5 2006: Recent Changes to Home Instruction Statute
The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers
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VaHomeschoolers Legislative Report
Monday, June 05, 2006
by Celeste Land, Government Affairs
FAQs about Recent Changes to Home Instruction Statute
This years combined changes to the Virginia home instruction statute (22.1-254.1) represent the biggest and most significant set of changes to our states homeschooling laws in many years. The changes to the home instruction statute go into effect on July 1, 2006 .
What do the changes to the law mean for you personally? How do they affect how your family will file its paperwork this year?
As I write this article in early June, the Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers continues to collaborate with the Virginia Board of Education to determine how the new laws will be interpreted and implemented across the state. While much is still unsettled, we do have answers to many of your questions about how these changes to the home instruction statute will work in practice.
Notice of Intent Filing
Q: I have a high school diploma, and have always filed my notice of intent paperwork under option iv. How will I file my notice of intent under the new law?
A: If you have a high school diploma, you may now file your notice of intent under option i (section 22.1-254.1 A). You will need to send your local school district a copy of your high school diploma. If you dont have a copy of your high school diploma, you may send a copy of your high school transcript instead. (You can get a copy of your transcript by contacting your old high school. There may be a processing fee charge.)
As an option i filer, you will no longer need to submit a description of how your curriculum includes the Standards of Learning, or an explanation of why you are qualified to educate your child at home. Like all parents who file under the home instruction statute, you will still need to submit a description of your course of study to the school district. (section 22.1-254.1 B). However, according to the Virginia Department of Education, the superintendent is not required to evaluate or judge the curriculum or program of study [for option i or ii filers]. Submission of the curriculum materials is for information purposes only. (http://www.pen.k12.va.us/VDOE/Parents/homeinst.pdf)
Q: I have a GED. Can I file my notice of intent paperwork under option i under the new law?
A: Probably not. The Virginia Board of Education is still deliberating this point. However, the Board of Education does not recognize the GED as a diploma in other contexts, so it is unlikely that they would consider the GED as a diploma in this situation. You can still file your notice of intent paperwork under either options iii or iv. (Section 22.1-254.1 A)
Q: I have a college diploma, and have always filed under option i in the past. Do I now need to dig up my high school diploma to continue homeschooling? I dont even know where it is!
A: The Virginia Board of Education has told the Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers that anything above a high school diploma will be considered acceptable documentation for option i filers. So a college diploma should be acceptable for option i filing purposes. If your local school district already has a copy of your college diploma on file, there is no need to provide additional documentation.
Q: Even with the new law, I still need to file under option iv. How does the new law change what I need to do?
A: Under the new law, option iv filers must either submit a program of study or curriculum which includes the standards of learning objectives for language arts and mathematics or provide evidence that you are able to provide an adequate education for your child. Under the old law, you had to provide both; now you may choose one or the other. (Section 22.1-254.1 A) Regardless of which option you choose, you will still need to submit a description of the curriculum, as do all home instruction filers (section 22.1-254.1 B).
Q: When should I file my notice of intent paperwork for the 2006-2007 school year? Before or after July 1, 2006?
A: Thats up to you. Your notice of intent paperwork for the 2006-2007 school year is due on August 15, 2006. If you submit this paperwork AFTER July 1, your paperwork will be processed under the new laws. If you submit this paperwork BEFORE July 1, your paperwork will be processed under the old laws. Depending on your filing situation, you may wish to wait until after July 1 to file your notice of intent paperwork.
Q: How will the new law affect me when I file my testing/evaluation paperwork at the end of the school year?
A: The new law provides objective testing options for families who submit achievement test scores to their local school district. If you submit results in or above the fourth stanine from any nationally normed standardized achievement test after July 1, 2006 , the school district is now required to accept those results as proof of progress. (The old law concerning the fourth stanine only applied to tests approved by the Board of Education; there have been no such tests for several years.) If you submit any other forms of evaluation, they will still be considered under option ii, and must simply determine that the child is achieving adequate progress. (Section 22.1-254.1 C)
Q: I havent sent in my testing/evaluation paperwork for the 2005-2006 school year yet. Should I send it in before or after July 1, when the new law goes into effect?
A: Again, thats up to you. Your testing/evaluation paperwork for the 2005-2006 school year is due on August 1, 2006. If you submit this paperwork AFTER July 1, your paperwork will be processed under the new laws. If you submit this paperwork BEFORE July 1, your paperwork will be processed under the old laws. Some parents may wish to wait until after July 1 to submit their childs test scores to the school district.
Note: All testing/evaluation paperwork for the 2006-2007 school year will be processed under the new laws.
Q: My son will be attending public school this fall, but I may pull him out and homeschool him later in the year if things dont work out at his new school. How does the new law affect mid-year withdrawals and filing?
A: The new law clarifies the home instruction statute regarding mid-year withdrawals, stating that a parent who begins home instruction after the school year has begun shall notify the division superintendent of his intentions as soon as practicable, and then has 30 days thereafter to file the notice of intent and accompanying paperwork (curriculum, copy of high school diploma, etc.). (Section 22.1-254.1 B)
Although mid-year withdrawal has been legal for many years, we hope that this legislative change will prevent further misunderstandings between homeschoolers and school districts. The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers continues to work with the state Board of Education to ensure that this part of the new law is appropriately implemented across the state.
Q: My homeschooled teen wants to take the PSAT this year. How will this work under the new law?
A: The new law requires public school districts to make the PSAT and AP exams available to home instructed students. (Section 22.1-254.1 F) To sign up for the PSAT or AP tests, contact your local public or private high school guidance office. Some school districts have registration information for these exams on their websites.
If your teen wishes to take the PSAT this fall, we recommend registering as soon as possible to avoid last-minute disappointments. Some school districts ask that students register in the spring if they wish to take the exam in the fall.
This year, the PSAT exam will be administered on either Wednesday, October 18 or Saturday, October 21, 2006 . The AP exams will be administered in early May 2007. You can read more about these exams and how to register as a homeschooled student at www.collegeboard.com.
For More Information .
Q: What if I still have questions or concerns about the new home instruction law? What if something goes awry when I file my paperwork with my school district this year? Who can I call for help or answers?
A: Over the coming month, we will be updating the VaHomeschoolers website www.VaHomeschoolers.org to reflect these changes to the law. Be sure to continue to check our website and read our Legislative Reports and Updates for the most up-to-date information on homeschooling in Virginia .
You may contact the Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers at any time with your questions or concerns about the new homeschooling law. Please call our toll free number at 866-513-6173, or contact us at GovtAffairs@.... We look forward to helping you!
Text of New Home Instruction Statute
Following is the text of the home instruction statute (22.1-254.1) as it will read after July 1, 2006. Inserted text is italicized, while deleted text is struck through. The changes cited below reflect the language of House bills HB 1340 (Bell), HB 1483 (Tata), and HB 1588 (Moran) and Senate bill SB 499 (Puckett). The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers supported all four bills, and requested both HB 1483 and HB 1588
Please note that any links in this text will go to the old version of 22.1-254.1. The new language will be posted on the Virginia General Assembly website later this summer.
§ 22.1-254.1. Declaration of policy; requirements for home instruction of children.
A. When the requirements of this section have been satisfied, instruction of children by their parents is an acceptable alternative form of education under the policy of the Commonwealth of Virginia . Any parent of any child who will have reached the fifth birthday on or before September 30 of any school year and who has not passed the eighteenth birthday may elect to provide home instruction in lieu of school attendance if he (i) holds a
baccalaureate degree in any subject from an accredited institution of higher educationhigh school diploma; or (ii) is a teacher of qualifications prescribed by the Board of Education; or (iii) has enrolled the child or children in a correspondence course approved by the Superintendent of Public Instruction; or (iv) provides a program of study or curriculum which, in the judgment of the division superintendent, includes the standards of learning objectives adopted by the Board of Education for language arts and mathematics, andor provides evidence that the parent is able to provide an adequate education for the child.
B. Any parent who elects to provide home instruction in lieu of school attendance shall annually notify the division superintendent in August of his intention to so instruct the child and provide a description of the curriculum to be followed for the coming year and evidence of having met one of the criteria for providing home instruction as required by subsection A. Effective July 1, 2000, parents electing to provide home instruction shall provide such annual notice no later than August 15. Any parent who moves into a school division or begins home instruction after the school year has begun shall notify the division superintendent of his intention to provide home instruction as soon as practicable and shall thereafter comply with the requirements of this section within 30 days of such notice. The division superintendent shall notify the Superintendent of Public Instruction of the number of students in the school division receiving home instruction.
C. The parent who elects to provide home instruction shall provide the division superintendent by August 1 following the school year in which the child has received home instruction with either (i) evidence that the child has attained a composite score in or above the fourth stanine on
a battery of achievement tests which have been approved by the Board of Education for use in the public schoolsany nationally normed standardized achievement test or (ii) an evaluation or assessment which , in the judgment ofthe division superintendent , indicatesdetermines to indicate that the child is achieving an adequate level of educational growth and progress.
In the event that evidence of progress as required in this subsection is not provided by the parent, the home instruction program for that child may be placed on probation for one year. Parents shall file with the division superintendent evidence of their ability to provide an adequate education for their child in compliance with subsection A and a remediation plan for the probationary year that indicates their program is designed to address any educational deficiency. Upon acceptance of such evidence and plan by the division superintendent, the home instruction may continue for one probationary year. If the remediation plan and evidence are not accepted or the required evidence of progress is not provided by August 1 following the probationary year, home instruction shall cease and the parent shall make other arrangements for the education of the child which comply with § 22.1-254. The requirements of subsection C shall not apply to children who are under the age of six as of September 30 of the school year.
D. Nothing in this section shall prohibit a pupil and his parents from obtaining an excuse from school attendance by reason of bona fide religious training or belief pursuant to subdivision B 1 of § 22.1-254.
E. Any party aggrieved by a decision of the division superintendent may appeal his decision within 30 days to an independent hearing officer. The independent hearing officer shall be chosen from the list maintained by the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court for hearing appeals of the placements of children with disabilities. The costs of the hearing shall be apportioned among the parties by the hearing officer in a manner consistent with his findings.
F. School boards shall implement a plan to notify students receiving home instruction pursuant to this section and their parents of the availability of Advanced Placement (AP) and Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) examinations and the availability of financial assistance to low-income and needy students to take these examinations. School boards shall implement a plan to make these examinations available to students receiving home instruction.