Home Education

Home Education/Home Schooling

Massachusetts Regulations for Home Education

Massachusetts compulsory school attendance age: 

The law requires that children attend school or be homeschooled from the first school year in which they turn 6 by December 31 until their 16th birthday.

Massachusetts Regulations on Home Schooling
Alternative instruction provision: Massachusetts law exempts children who are “otherwise instructed in a manner approved in advance by the superintendent or the school committee” from compulsory school attendance. Oversight of homeschooling thus falls to the local school districts, who are given some latitude in setting their own requirements. Parents must seek approval from their local school districts to homeschool. Districts may not require parents to have any qualifications, but they may require parents to provide 180 days of instruction “equivalent” to that provided in the public schools, they may require parents to keep records, and they may require annual assessments (generally by standardized test or portfolio review). Districts may deny parents approval to homeschool, but to do so they must be able to prove that the proposed program of instruction does not equal “in thoroughness and efficiency, and in the progress made therein, that in the public schools in the same town.”

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:

1. Submit an annual notice of intent to the school district
2. Teach the required subjects
3. Keep good records
4. Test or evaluate your child as required

Developing your home education plan:
Notification: initial plans should be submitted in mid-August prior to the start of the school year. Mid-year progress reports and/or updates should be sent in January. End of the year reports should be submitted by the end of July.

Qualifications: parents do not need to be licensed teachers or college graduates.

Days or Hours: Flexible based on your schedule with the general guidelines aligning to public school: 180 days per year and 900 hours of instruction for elementary students and 990 hours for high school students.

Subjects; home school plans should cover materials equivalent to that which is provided in public school.

Testing/Assessment: Parents may choose to test or evaluate their child as necessary to document their progress. Home School students are not required to take any formal tests or assessments (such as MCAS). MCAS are only assessed for students enrolled in public schools. For any home school student who plans to return to public school, the school may request work samples or conduct an assessment in order for the child to return. Students in K-8th grade would return to public school in the grade that is age appropriate. Students in 9th-12th would enter as 9th graders in order to comply with the Massachusetts graduation requirement to attend 8 full semesters in an accredited program.

Withdrawing your child from his or her current school
If you want to start homeschooling during the school year and your child is currently enrolled in a public or private school, you will need to have a homeschool plan APPROVED by the Superintendent before you can withdraw your child from that school. If you are going to start homeschooling after the school year is over, and your child is considered enrolled for the following year, we recommend that you withdraw your child before the next school year begins, so that the school does not mark your child as absent or truant.

The importance of recordkeeping
It is recommended that parents keep detailed records of their homeschool program. These records may be helpful if you face an investigation regarding your homeschooling or your student needs to furnish proof of education.  These records should include attendance records, information on the textbooks and workbooks your student used, samples of your student’s schoolwork, correspondence with school officials, portfolios and test results, and any other documents showing that your child is receiving an appropriate education in compliance with the law. You should maintain these records for at least two years. You should keep your student’s high school records and proof of compliance with the home education laws during the high school years (including any type of home education notice that you file with state or local officials) on file forever.

Curriculum: Common Core in Massachusetts: Common Core State Standards
Massachusetts boasted the nation’s highest-ranked standards and highest-achieving students before it adopted the Common Core. Now Massachusetts standards and state-written assessments have been completely aligned to the Common Core. These are available online for parents to review.

Part-Time Enrollment: students will either attend public school or be homeschooled but cannot do both currently under our policy (for example a high school student who is approved for home schooling is not able to enroll for the purpose of taking one specific course). Home educated students are encouraged to access the many available options for taking classes and courses through other educational institutions and venues.

Extracurricular Activities: High School aged students ONLY may participate in Athletics (in compliance with our athletic policies), students may not participate in band, chorus or other clubs or activities under our policy. Please visit our Northampton High School Athletics page for more information.

Special Needs: Students with special needs may still qualify to receive some services if the student qualified for an IEP while attending NPS and is then approved for home schooling. Testing and assessments are available if parents have concerns (available through our Pupil Services Dept) for a home school student even if the child has never attended public school.

Accessing Special Education Services: Students who are approved for a home education and who also qualify for special education services need to be registered in the district as a “services only” student in order to access the services being offered. Registering as a “services only” student will not affect the home school status of the child. Any student accessing services for which the district is financially responsible are required to be registered with the school district in order to be counted by the state.  Services are most often available at the school assigned to the student based on their home address.