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Which States Have the Best Homeschooling Laws?

Recently, there has been much media attention surrounding the current legal proceedings in California, which have the potential to affect all California homeschoolers. Because of this, many people around the country are realizing for the first time that the laws and regulations that apply to homeschooling actually vary from state to state. Those who may be considering homeschooling as a future educational option for their own children, may be interested to know where their own state stands in the homeschooling world.

Rather than trying to discern which states are the “best” for homeschooling, this article will focus on which states implement the most “homeschooler-friendly” laws and regulations, and then compare them to the states which implement stricter guidelines. The reason for this, is that just because a state exercises relaxed guidelines in regards to homeschooling, does not make it the “best” state for homeschoolers in everyone’s eyes. To some, a state that does not enforce strict regulation of homeschoolers is failing the children who may not be getting enough education. To others, a state that requires close monitoring of homeschoolers isn’t the “best” either, as it hinders the flexibility by which a homeschooling family can operate. However, all can likely agree, that some states are definitely more “homeschooler-friendly” than others.

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There are four levels of homeschooling regulation around the country: states with essentially no regulations; states with low regulations; states with moderate regulations; and states with high regulations.

The states which have essentially no regulations are the most homeschooler-friendly. These states require no notification. That is, the parents of the children do not have to notify the district in any way of their intent to homeschool. There are no forms to fill out, no phone calls to make. Even if one decides to pull their child from public school in order to begin homeschooling, there is not even a form to sign. These states allow homeschoolers the most freedom and the most flexibility in their curriculums, as well as the amount of time they decide to spend on educational endeavors. Currently, there are 10 states that fall into this category: Idaho, Alaska, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Connecticut, and New Jersey.

The next level up, are the states which have low regulations. Namely, they require only that the parent notifies the district in writing of their intent to homeschool a child of compulsory attendance age. These states are also highly homeschooler-friendly as they require no testing, no reporting, and no home visits. Currently there are 15 states which fall into this category: California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Delaware and Washington D.C.

The third level up, are the states which have moderate regulations. Not only do these states require written parental notification, but they also require state standardized test scores and professional evaluation of the homeschooling students’ performance. Theoretically, if the district within which the homeschooling family resides felt, after this testing and evaluation, that the homeschool was not fulfilling its legal requirement to educate the student to the state’s standards, they could revoke that family’s right to homeschool. These states are not considered overly homeschooler-friendly. This is the most popular level of homeschooling regulation in our country, as there are currently 20 states which implement this program: Washington, Oregon, Colorado, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, New Hampshire, Maine, and Hawaii.

The strictest level of homeschooling regulation exercised in our country, requires notification, mandatory state testing, professional evaluation, and may also include curriculum approval, reporting of hours and progress, teaching certification of the parent and/or home visits by state officials. Obviously, these states would not be considered the best for homeschoolers, at least in the eyes of homeschoolers themselves. They are not homeschooler-friendly, allow little to no flexibility, and may just be states that homeschoolers prefer to avoid all together. Fortunately for most homeschoolers, there are only 6 states which currently fall into this category: North Dakota, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

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