Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions
On May 21, 1985 the Home-Based Instruction Law (RCW 28A.200) was adopted.
1. What is the Compulsory School Attendance requirement in Washington?
Students must attend school. Basically, children between the ages of eight and eighteen years old must attend the public school in which the child resides for the full time the school is in session unless the child is either attending an approved private school, is enrolled in an extension program of an approved private school, or is receiving home-based instruction.
2. What are Public School Alternative Learning Programs (PSALP’s) or Parent-Partnered Programs (PPP’s)?
The purpose of alternative learning (Washington Administrative Code 392.121.182) is to provide support to school districts for the operation of programs that recognize and address the diverse needs of students for courses of study provided in non-traditional learning environments. Each student is considered a full time equivalent for enrollment and state funding. Public School Alternative Learning Programs (PSALP’s) or Parent-Partnered Programs (PPP’s) are for students who are not home-based instruction or private school students.
3. A parent must qualify to homeschool. How does a parent qualify?
Home-based instruction must be provided by a parent who is instructing his or her children only. In addition, one of the following four requirements must be satisfied:
- The student is supervised by a certificated teacher. There must be a minimum of an average of one-hour contact per week with the student being supervised by the teacher.
- The parent has either earned 45 college level quarter credit hours or the equivalent in semester hours.
- The parent has completed a parent qualifying course in home-based instruction at a post-secondary institution or a vocational-technical institute.
- The parent has been deemed qualified by the superintendent of the district in which the student lives.
4. What are the requirements surrounding the Declaration of Intent to provide Home-Based Instruction?
This form declares to the superintendent in your district, that your child will be homeschooling. It must be filed annually by September 15th or within two weeks of the beginning of any public school quarter, trimester or semester. The declaration includes the name and age of the child, specifies whether a certificated person will be supervising the instruction, and is written in a format prescribed by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Any information on the district form that is not prescribed, is optional. The form is available from your local school district, and must be filed with the superintendent in your district.
5. What are the testing requirements in the home-based instruction law?
We are required to test our children annually. There are two options:
- A standardized achievement test approved by the state board of education and administered by a qualified individual, or
- An assessment of the student’s academic progress which is written by a certificated person who is currently working in the field of education.
The test results remain in the home as part of the child’s permanent homeschool records.
6. Are there subject areas that need to be covered?
The law states that instruction will consist of planned and supervised instructional and related educational activities including a curriculum and instruction in the basic skills of occupational education, science, mathematics, language, social studies, history, health, reading, writing and spelling and the development of an appreciation of art and music.
7. Does the law mandate hours of instruction?
The hours of instruction are to be equal to the total hours per grade level established for approved private schools. However, when determining “how” (the nature of instruction) and for how long (the quantity of instruction) parents should know that: “The legislature recognizes that home-based instruction is less structured and more experiential than classroom education. Therefore, these provisions of the nature and quantity of instruction shall be liberally construed.”
8. Are there record keeping requirements?
Parents need to keep copies of the annual test scores or the written assessment and immunization records. Beyond that, parents decide which records to keep that relate to the instruction and educational activities they have provided. If a student enters a public or private school, if asked, the parent must provide copies of their annual test results.
9. Can home-based instruction students receive high school credit and a diploma?
Yes, credits can be granted, transcripts created and a diploma granted by homeschool parents. Other options are available to homeschool students through accredited courses of study and a variety of well established commercial curriculums. However, if the student plans to transfer to a public or private school, it is strongly recommended that parents contact school staff to determine their policy regarding transfer credits and high school completion. This planning is also recommended for technical schools, colleges and universities. Home-based instruction students do not receive a Washington State Diploma. The Washington Homeschool Organization hosts an annual homeschool graduation.
10. May homeschool students participate in public schools?
Homeschoolers may take “courses” at the public school on a part-time basis. A “course” is defined as any instructional curricular service or activity. They may also avail themselves of ancillary services. These are defined as co-curricular services or activities. Some examples are counseling, testing, hearing tests and speech therapy, etc. While participating at the public school for part-time courses or for ancillary services, homeschoolers remain under the home-based instruction statutes.
The Washington Homeschool Organization has a variety of free and low-cost resources including a list of parent qualifying courses, test providers, tutors, etc.