Educational Neglect

An Overview for Policymakers

While homeschooling can provide children with a positive, innovative education, it does not always. Many formerly homeschooled students who experienced educational neglect are adamant that better standards for homeschooling would have improved in their situations.  

“I was very shorted in the high school subjects. I had no formal science like chemistry or biology, no algebra higher than pre-algebra, no history beyond a unit study, and no literature or required book reports. If there are degree requirements for homeschooled students and oversight to enforce those requirements, it would force parents to provide a better education in order to meet those requirements. Without those requirements and oversight, I have a diploma that does not match the education level of my peers.” — Kristine Sands

“When I began to be homeschooled in 9th grade, I was a year ahead in math in high school, I was in the National Junior Honor Society and I made very good grades. … I never got past Algebra because my parents were unable to teach high school math to me. … If anyone besides my parents had been around to watch and guide me … they may have been forced to get tutoring for me … As it was, my education essentially stopped at 9th grade because my parents had no clue what to teach me.” — Chris Lofland

I never took any tests, or had any deadlines, schoolwork was done when and if I had time after my household responsibilities were met, including childcare, cooking, and cleaning … most of my schoolwork was limited and guided by how it would serve me as a stay-at-home mother someday…. If my parents had had some sort of standard of education to meet … I believe it could have been a helpful wake up call.” — Melissa Reyenga

At CRHE, we advocate for better safeguards to protect homeschooled children’s right to an education, in part because we know what homeschooling is like. We are the only organization founded and run by homeschool graduates that advocates for homeschooled children.

Homeschooling & Educational Neglect

What does the research say about educational neglect in homeschool settings? Why and how does it occur? On this page, we delve into the issues involved. Learn more.

Current Policy

Currently, few states offer sufficient standards for homeschooling; even homeschool statutes that look good on the books are frequently riddled with loopholes or badly enforced.

No Notice: No required contact with state or local officials.
Notice Only: Notice of intent to homeschool only.
Assessment w/ Exceptions: Assessments with various exceptions.
Moderate Assessment: Assessments with low thresholds for intervention.
Thorough Assessment: Assessments combined with other provisions.

A 2018 survey of attendance officers in Kentucky conducted by that state’s Office of Educational Accountability found that four in five attendance officers reported “often” or “sometimes” seeing parents withdraw children from public school to be homeschooled in order to avoid consequences for chronic truancy. A failure to safeguard homeschooled children’s educational rights has consequences far beyond what one might consider “traditional’ homeschooling.

Inside Homeschool Policy

Homeschool law varies substantially from state to state. Browse what requirements are in place and read our state-by-state comparisons and analysis. Learn more.

In the right settings, homeschooling can offer a positive and child-centered education that encourages children to thrive and achieve. Such homeschooling should be encouraged. But when homeschooling fails and children are deprived of an education, the consequences can be severe.

Our Recommendations

Lawmakers and education officials should take the following steps to ensure that students being homeschooled are receiving an education:

  • Annual notice: Require parents to notify state or local education officials of their decision to homeschool at the beginning of each school year.  
  • Parent qualifications: Require parents to show proof of high school graduation or the completion of a GED or equivalent in order to homeschool. 
  • Subject requirements: Mandate that homeschooling parents provide instruction in the same subjects covered in their state’s public schools. 
  • Record keeping: Require parents to keep records of each child’s academic progress.
  • Annual assessment: Require that each child’s academic progress be assessed annually by standardized test, portfolio review, or other method. 
  • Mediation: Ensure that students who are not making progress receive support they need, and discontinue homeschooling if necessary. 
  • Disability services: Require parents of children with disabilities to create annual services plans outlining the therapies and interventions their child will receive. 

We advocate for policy that protects homeschooled children’s right to an education in a safe home environment. Read our full recommendations to learn more.

Elevating Alumni Voices

As an organization founded and run by homeschool graduates, we work to elevate the perspectives of our fellow alumni. We have collected and published dozens of their stories.

Community Voices

The Right to an Education

Many states’ homeschooling law is so lax that it effectively voids compulsory attendance—and with it the idea that children have a right to an education. We have crafted an aspirational vision of what a homeschooling that empowers children and respects their rights might look like.

A Bill of Rights for Homeschooled Children

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