Pauline's Guide to Homeschooling in PA

FAQ's About the New Pennsylvania Home Education Law
(Enacted in October, 2014)

In October, 2014, the PA legislature passed significant changes to the home education law. The following is a quick overview of the changes, with everything you need to know to do your paperwork.

When you have a chance, I encourage you to read the entire home education law - there's a copy here, formatted so you can see what has been removed and what has been added.

How has the end of year paperwork changed?

The evaluation process has not changed.

  • You need to create a portfolio which demonstrates appropriate education (180 days or 900/990 hours, required subjects, and sustained progress in the overall program).
  • The portfolio should contain a log (which designates the reading materials you used), samples of the student's work, and if it is a testing year (grades 3, 5, and 8), standardized test results.
  • Towards the end of the year, hire a qualified evaluator, who will speak with your child and review their portfolio. The evaluator will give you a certification that an appropriate education is occurring. (This is usually a brief statement signed by the evaluator.)

What you submit to the school district superintendent HAS changed.

  • The evaluator's certification must be turned in to the superintendent of your school district by June 30.
  • You do NOT need to turn in the portfolio. You do NOT need to turn your log, any samples of work, or any test scores.
  • ONLY the evaluator's certification goes to the school district. This is usually ONE piece of paper. (You may want to ask your evaluator for two copies - one for the district, and the other for your files.)
  • This change should eliminate most of the problems that occurred when district personnel (who were sometimes uninformed about homeschooling and/or the law) had issues with the contents of the portfolio.

What about the paperwork for next year?

The beginning-of-the-year paperwork has not changed.

  • You need to submit your notarized affidavit, an outline of proposed education objectives, and whatever you feel the law requires to meet the medical requirements.
  • If your student has been identified as needing special education services, you also need to submit a qualified person's approval of your home education program. (More about requirements and rights for special ed students here.)
  • If you are a returning home educator, your start-of-year paperwork is not due until August 1. However, many people submit their start-of-year paperwork along with their end-of-year paperwork from the prior year (by June 30), so that they only have to submit paperwork once a year.

What if my child is graduating this year? - New diploma option

The October 2014 law change gives home educators a new option for their child's high school diploma - a state-recognized diploma awarded by the supervisor and signed by the evaluator. For this diploma:

  • The student receiving the diploma must have completed all of the graduation requirements in the home education law, while enrolled in a home education program that is in compliance with the home education law.
  • The diploma must be on a standardized form developed by the PA Department of Education, which is available on their website.
  • The diploma must be signed by the student's twelfth grade evaluator in confirmation of the student's suitability for graduation.

If you want to award this type of diploma to your student, you should discuss with your evaluator what she wants to see in the portfolio so that she can confirm that the student has completed the graduation requirements and is therefore suitable for graduation.

There is more info on this diploma option here.

There are also some changes to the PA Diploma program option, mainly that these programs are now specifically mentioned in the law. See the new law for details.

The due process procedures have also changed.

There have been significant changes to the due process procedures outlined in the law. Most home educators will never have to deal with this, but it is worth having at least a basic understanding of the rules so you are prepared if your school district begins to take these steps against you. Know your rights!

These procedures cover the following scenarios:

  • If the supervisor fails to submit the [evaluator's] certification ... stating that an appropriate education is occurring to the superintendent by June 30.
  • If the superintendent has a reasonable belief ... that appropriate education may not be occurring in the home education program.
  • If the superintendent has a reasonable belief that the home education program is out of compliance with any other provisions of the home education law.

There is a detailed explanation of the due process procedures here.