COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

P.O. BOX 2120

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120

SUPTS. MEMO NO.124

June 9, 2006

INFORMATIONAL

TO:

Division Superintendents

 

FROM:

Patricia I. Wright

Acting Superintendent of Public Instruction

 

SUBJECT:

2006 Legislation Impacting Home Instruction

 

This memorandum provides information regarding changes made to the law governing home instruction during the 2006 General Assembly Session through SB 499, HB 1340, HB 1483, and HB 1588. HB 1340 and SB 499 are similar. The changes in all of these bills are effective July 1, 2006.

 

General Requirements

 

As of July 1, 2006, 22.1-254.1.A of the Code of Virginia will allow the 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 18th birthday to elect to home school a child if the parent meets one of the following:

 

  1. The parent holds a high school diploma.

 

  1. The parent meets the qualifications of a teacher as prescribed by the Virginia Board of Education.

 

  1. The parent enrolls the child in a correspondence course approved by the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

 

  1. The parent 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 [English] and mathematics, or provides evidence that the parent is able to provide an adequate education for the child.

 

SB 499 and HB 1340 amended 22.1-254.1.A of the Code of Virginia (option 1) to allow a parent to elect to home school a child if the parent has a high school diploma and meets the other requirements of the law. Although a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution is no longer required to satisfy this option, a parent who has a high school diploma or higher would meet this requirement. Under options 1 and 2, the parent must continue to submit a description of the curriculum to be followed for the coming year, but the superintendent is not required to make any judgment regarding its suitability.

 

Another bill, HB 1483, amended 22.1-254.1.A (option 4) to provide that a parent electing that option must provide 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 [English] and mathematics, or provide evidence that the parent is able to provide an adequate education for the child. This change allows a parent to satisfy option 4 by meeting either of the provisions in that option. In reviewing a program of study or curriculum, the division superintendent must use judgment to determine whether or not the program of study includes the required Standards of Learning objectives. To assess a parents ability to provide an adequate education, the division superintendent should determine whether the information submitted exhibits a mastery of language by the writer; whether it includes plans for instructional activities; and whether it presents a reasonable scope and sequence of content that shows a broad overview of what the parent plans to teach the child during the school year.

 

HB 1483 also clarified 22.1-254.1.B to provide that parents who move into the school division or begin home schooling after the school year has begun must notify the school division of their intent to home school as soon as practicable and shall thereafter comply with the requirements within 30 days of such notice. This means subsequent to providing the school division with a notice of intent, such parents can begin home schooling and they will have 30 days to submit the other information required.

 

Section 22.1-254.1 also requires parents to comply with the following provisions annually:

 

         Notify the school division of the intent to home school the child no later than August 15 ( 22.1-254.1.B).

 

         Provide evidence to the school division indicating that one of the options or criteria in 22.1-254.1.A has been met ( 22.1-254.1.B).

 

These requirements have not changed.

 

Evidence of Academic Progress

 

As amended by HB 1483, 22.1-254.1.C provides:

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 any nationally normed standardized achievement test or (ii) an evaluation or assessment which the division superintendent determines to indicate that the child is achieving an adequate level of educational growth and progress. [emphasis added]

 

Although there are numerous tests and evaluations that may meet the requirements of this section of the law, this department does not maintain a list of approved tests and evaluations. The Department of Education encourages parents to consult with school divisions and other resources such as parent home instruction organizations to determine which test or method of evaluation best meets their needs and provides sufficient information.

 

This consultation is for information purposes only because a parent may use any nationally normed standardized achievement test as evidence of academic achievement. Please note, however, that the evaluation or assessment referenced must be sufficient to allow the division superintendent to determine that the child is achieving an adequate level of educational growth and progress.

 

Advanced Placement Tests and Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Tests

 

Section 22.1-254.1.F currently requires school boards to implement a plan to notify students who are home schooled and their parents about the availability of Advanced Placement (AP) and the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) examinations and the availability of financial assistance to low-income and needy students taking these examinations. That requirement was passed by the General Assembly in 2005. In the 2006 Session, HB 1588 amended

22.1-254.1.F to require school boards to implement a plan to make AP and PSAT examinations available to students receiving home instruction.

 

As required by SB 499 ( 22.1-254.1), the Department of Education must monitor the implementation of this bill with reference to the modification of the criteria to allow a parent to home school if that parent holds a high school diploma; and communicate any findings and appropriate recommendations to the 2008 Session of the General Assembly. School divisions will receive information about this process at a later date.

 

Additional clarification about home instruction can be found on this departments website at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/VDOE/Parents/index.html or in the departments home instruction handbook.

 

Please contact Michelle Vucci, in the Division of Policy and Communications, at the above address, by e-mail at Michelle.Vucci@doe.virginia.gov, or by telephone at (804)225-2092 if you have any questions.

 

PIW/SGP/jcj