Home School Education Overview
Home Schooling in Massachusetts
Home schooling is legal in all 50 states in the United States and in many other countries around the world. Each state has their own regulations and each school district may have specific policies and guidelines.
Complying with Massachusetts’s home school law Oversight of home education is a function of the local school district in which you reside. School Authorities are responsible for enforcing the compulsory attendance law (General Law chapter 76, Sec. 1). They are also responsible for approving home education plans. Parents are responsible for giving prior notification to the school district of their home education plan, which equals the local public school’s ‘in thoroughness and efficiency.” Parents also must comply with an evaluation program mutually agreed upon by the school and parents.
Massachusetts’ compulsory attendance law provides that children must attend a recognized and/or approved school or be educated in some other way that is approved in advance by the local school committee or superintendent. To legally homeschool, you will need to follow these requirements:
Submit an annual notice of intent to the school district Northampton Public Schools requires parents to submit an annual application and education plan. Additionally we request a mid-year progress report and an end of the year summary. Please be aware that students may not be withdrawn from school until parents have an approved plan.
Clubs, Sports, and Extra Curricular Activities: Home school students may not access art, music, extra curricular activities or clubs. High School students may access high school sports in accordance with the policy referenced below. Resident home school students may access special education services in accordance with the applicable laws as referenced in the policy below.
Helpful Information: Massachusetts law requires that all students be taught the following subjects: spelling, reading, writing, English language and grammar, geography, arithmetic, drawing, music, United States history and Constitution, duties of citizenship, health (including CPR), physical education, and good behavior. Parent Guides are available from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE). DESE also outlines the specific course work students will be instructed in when educated in a public school district. These can be helpful for home school parents as well. Please follow this link to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks site.
School Records: Record keeping is the responsibility of the parent. The home school plan, submitted annually, is an overview of your plan for your child’s education. Proof of an approved plan (annually) is generally a requirement for students transferring to public, public charter, or private schools in future school years. It is the responsibility of the parent to keep careful documentation of the plans they submitted and the approval letters they receive from the district. Though there is no legal requirement for the parents to keep specific records, it is very helpful for parents to document what subject their child was instructed in. See additional information below.
School Committee Policies for Home School Students
Home School Record Keeping Recommendations
School Records – parents should plan to keep records of their children’s home schooling education. Though not required by law, having various records is very helpful to track your child’s progress and may be helpful or necessary should you elect to enroll your child into public or private school at a later date. Many parents recommend having a binder for each school year.
These can include any of the following:
- Your child’s typical daily schedule and or an annual school calendar
- Learning materials and curriculum
- List of annual learning goals for your child
- Evaluations, tests, quizzes, report cards and grades
- Places you visit on field trips
- Extracurricular activities – sports, music or dance classes etc.
- Photos of your child doing various activities
- A photo log your child has created
- Projects or documentation of projects your child has completed
- Reading lists of books read and or written book reports
- A variety of samples of the child’s school work .
- projects and accomplishments
- Checklist of life skills acquired
- Transcripts you have created of course work (high school students)
- Video recordings of your child reading, presenting a book report, reciting a poem, acting out skits, or playing an instrument
In additional to home school work, it is helpful often times for parents to also keep track of other documentation that may be helpful at a later date. These can include:
- Child’s birth certificates
- Annual Wellness check-up summaries and Immunization records
- Previous school records
- Copies of all correspondence with school officials, including Annual Home School Proposals and End of the Year Summary Reports
- Copy of the parent or teacher’s degree or diploma, or teaching certificate, if applicable
- Receipts for educational materials
- List of in-service training that you have completed (homeschool workshops, book lists of resources read, tapes, support group topical studies, etc.
Important Information for High School Aged Students
Transcripts – As a home schooled student, the parent or primary teacher is responsible for creating a high school transcript and for sending it to colleges. Parents have a few different options for going about this: Creating their own transcript and diploma, enlisting a service that specializes in transcript and diploma creation, or joining a home school group that produces professional transcripts and diplomas. If a student has taken classes online or outside of their homeschooling, you should contact each institution to make sure they also send schools an official copy of the transcript. The transcript created by a parent should be cumulative and include both home schooled classes and any classes taken at an outside institution.
GED and Diploma – The parents of home school student may issue a diploma if the transcripts indicate the student has met the basic state requirements for graduation.
Federal Student Aid for College: As of July 1, 2012, there are some new requirements for federal student aid programs. At Massachusetts community colleges, home schoolers do not need a GED to be eligible for federal financial aid as a matriculated student, but depending on the college, students may need a GED to be admitted as a degree candidate. Policies regarding admission of home schooled students differ. Some colleges require the GED, others may require a letter from the school district acknowledging that all of the home school requirements had been met (ie approved home school plans for all four years the student was of high school age and home educated). Check with the individual college. Having copies of the approved plans is the responsibility of the parent. You may contact the Superintendent to request a letter stating that the student met the requirements of home schooling per school committee policies during the student’s high school years.
MA High School Equivalency (HSE) Information The Massachusetts High School Equivalency Team, housed within the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, oversees: The issuing of the Massachusetts High School Equivalency credential, a nationally-recognized document that is accepted by virtually all colleges, universities, and employers in the country as exactly equivalent to a high school diploma; and The administration of the tests required to earn the credential.