The complete text of the Home-Based Instruction Law can be found here.
The Home-Based Instruction Law is also contained in the publication Washington State’s Laws Regulating Home-Based Instruction (the “Pink Booklet“) published by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Also see Knowledge is Power: Know Your Homeschool Law
A series of articles from the WHO’s News exploring the homeschool law
I – Compulsory Attendance
- Compulsory attendance age in the state of Washington is 8 years old OR the age at which a child is officially enrolled in public school.
- If a child is under 8 and has been officially enrolled in public school, the parent must formally withdraw the child. RCW 28A.225.015 However, we do not file a declaration of intent for children under age 8.
- The Home-Based Instruction law affects children 8 years old and older.
- Read A Short History of Compulsory Attendance in WA State
II – Parent Qualifications
To qualify to homeschool you must fulfill one of the following:
- Have earned 45 quarter units of college level credit.
- Attend a Parent Qualifying Course.
- Work with a certificated teacher who meets with your student on the average of an hour a week.
- Be deemed sufficiently qualified to provide home-based instruction by the superintendent of your local school district.
III – Required Paperwork
- A Declaration of Intent to Provide Home Based Instruction must be filed annually. Also Also see our Top 10 Questions regarding the Declaration of Intent
- This form may be obtained from and returned to the superintendent of the school district in which you live, or the district that accepts the student as a transfer student. Should your district’s form request more information than you are obligated to give (your child’s name, your child’s age, your name and address, and a check box if you’ve hired a certificated teacher to oversee your homeschooling as your method of qualifying), this Declaration of Intent to Provide Home Based Instruction is in compliance with the law.
- The information you need to include on the form is your child(ren’s) name and age, parent’s name, address and indicate if qualifying to homeschool by using a supervising certificated teacher, sign and date. School districts are not legally authorized to vary the format of the Declaration of Intent or to request additional information.
- This form protects the school – they are not responsible for the education of the child. This form protects the parent – your child(ren) are not truant.
- Your declaration of intent does not limit your ability to use the public school for part-time enrollment and/or ancillary services.
- Under absolutely NO circumstance is a child under 8 ever obligated to be included on a Declaration of Intent, including a child previously enrolled in school. Many school district officials erroneously believe otherwise. Use this form Formal Withdraw Letter to formally withdraw your <8yo student without submitting a Declaration of Intent.
IV – Required Subjects
The 11 required subjects need to be included in your curriculum.
The 11 required subjects are reading, writing, spelling, language, math, science, social studies, history, health, occupational education, and art and music appreciation.
These do not have to be taught separately. A unit study on frogs could include reading, writing, spelling, science, math, art and occupational education.
V – Annual Testing
Your students must participate in annual testing.
COVID 19 Statement: Although the public schools cancelled their testing this year (because they always test en masse in large groups). Because we (generally) do not test en masse, and because neither the OSPI nor the SBE have relieved homeschoolers of this duty, we still have the duty to test or assess this year in order to be in compliance with the HBI law.
Testing can be accomplished one of two ways:
- Non-test Assessments – an assessment of the student’s academic progress is written by a Washington State certified teacher who is currently working in the field of education.
- Standardized Testing – a standardized achievement test approved by the State Board of Education is administered annually to the child by a qualified individual.
- Test results are part of your private homeschool record, no one else receives a copy.
- WHO maintains a list of individuals who administer tests in your area.
VI – Record Keeping
You must keep records.
- Your homeschool records should include the student’s annual test scores or assessment report (see V) and immunization records, together with any other records that are kept relating to instructional and educational activities.
- The law is not specific on how or in what form these records are to be kept.
- These are your private records and do not need to be shared with any state agency.
- These records can, and probably will be, requested by school administration if your child is later enrolled in a traditional school setting.
RCW 28A.200.020 states that parents who are causing their children to receive home-based instruction shall be subject only to those minimum state laws and regulations which are necessary in ensuring that a sufficient basic educational opportunity is provided to the children receiving such instruction. Therefore, all decisions relating to philosophy or doctrine, selection of books, teaching materials and curriculum, and methods, timing and place in the provision or evaluation of home-based instruction shall be the responsibility of the parent except for matters specifically referred to in Chapter 28A.225 RCW.
The homeschool law also states that the legislature recognizes that home-based instruction is less structured and more experiential than the instruction normally provided in a classroom. Therefore, the provisions relating to the nature and quantity of instructional and related educational activities shall be liberally construed.