Homeschooling and the WASL or High School Proficiency Exam

Are my homeschooled children required to take public school standardized achievement tests like the WASL or the new High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE)?

We have been hearing that question at the WHO office a lot lately. Some schools or school districts are telling homeschooling parents that their children are required to take the WASL or HSPE.

If you are homeschooling, educating under the Home-Based Instruction Law, your children are not required to take the WASL or HSPE.

If your children are enrolled full time in a public school alternative education program, cyber school, parent partnered program or other public school “homeschool” program, your children are public school students and are required to take the WASL or HSPE. Parents do have the right to refuse testing for their children. However, after 2005, the 10th grade WASL or HSPE will be a prerequisite for high school graduation. For more information go to OSPI’s web page on Testing.

Below is the section of the Home-Based Instruction Law, RCW 28A.200.010, that pertains to testing. Underlined is the portion of the law that exempts homeschoolers from taking the WASL or HSPE, or participating in any way in the current education reform.

On February 21, 2001, Dr. Terry Bergeson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, sent a letter to all school district superintendents instructing district personnel to make the WASL or HSPE available, upon request, to homeschooled students. It also states clearly in the third paragraph that, “Washington State law exempts private school and home-based students from mandatory participation in the WASL or HSPE, therefore, participation by private school and home-based students should be viewed as strictly voluntary.”

If you are being told by school district personnel that your homeschooled children must take the WASL or HSPE please feel free to print out this page, and/or Dr. Bergeson’s letter to substantiate your position that homeschooled students are exempt from taking the WASL or HSPE.

The Washington Homeschool Organization keeps an eye on the legislature, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the State Board of Education on issues pertaining to homeschooling. We have created an email list to alert and inform homeschoolers when issues come up that are of interest to us. Please sign up for our Yahoo WHOforHomeschooling Group. WHO membership is not required.

Home-based instruction — Duties of parents.

RCW 28A.200.010

Each parent whose child is receiving home-based instruction under RCW 28A.225.010(4) shall have the duty to:

(3) Ensure that a standardized achievement test approved by the state board of education is administered annually to the child by a qualified individual or that an annual assessment of the student’s academic progress is written by a certificated person who is currently working in the field of education. The state board of education shall not require these children to meet the student learning goals, master the essential academic learning requirements, to take the assessments, or to obtain a certificate of mastery pursuant to *RCW 28A.630.885. The standardized test administered or the annual academic progress assessment written shall be made a part of the child’s permanent records. If, as a result of the annual test or assessment, it is determined that the child is not making reasonable progress consistent with his or her age or stage of development, the parent shall make a good faith effort to remedy any deficiency.