Georgia law refers to homeschools as “home study programs.” See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c).
Parents must submit an electronic notice of intent to the Department of Education within 30 days after establishing a home study program, and by September 1 annually thereafter. It must also include the names and ages of the students enrolled, the address where the home study program is located, and a statement of what 12 month period is to be considered the school year. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(1, 2).
Parents may teach only their own children in a home study program, and must have a high school diploma or GED. Parents may also hire a tutor to teach their children; in this case, the tutor must have a high school diploma or GED. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(3).
During each 12 month period, home study programs must provide instruction “equivalent to” 180 days of education with each school day consisting of at least 4.5 hours of instruction. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(5).
Home study programs must offer “a basic academic educational program” that includes, but is not limited to, reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(4).
Parents must compose annual progress assessment reports for each child. These reports should include an individualized assessment of the student’s academic progress in each required subject area. These progress reports must be retained by the parent in the home study program for at least three years. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(8).
Students in home study programs must take “appropriate” nationally standardized tests at least every three years beginning with the end of third grade. These tests must be administered “in consultation with a person trained in the administration and interpretation of norm reference tests.” Records of such tests and scores shall be retained but are not required to be submitted to public educational authorities. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(7).
Parents are not required to submit either annual progress assessments or the results of the required standardized testing. However, homeschooling parents who are not meeting the requirements of the homeschool statute may be reported to their local school districts, and failure to comply with the requirements of the homeschool statute is a misdemeanor punishable by a small fine. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(d).
Failure to provide an education as required by law is included in the state’s definition of neglect. See Ga. Code Ann. § 19-7-5(b)(11)(A)
(1) “Enrollment records and reports shall not be used for any purpose except providing necessary enrollment information, except with the permission of the parent or guardian of a child, or pursuant to the subpoena of a court of competent jurisdiction.” See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(2). (2) “The parent or guardian shall have the authority to execute any document required by law, rule, regulation, or policy to evidence the enrollment of a child in a home study program, the student’s full-time or part-time status, the student’s grades, or any other required educational information.” See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(6). (3) The Attorney General opined that the local superintendent may request but may not require evidence of compliance with the law. See Unofficial Opinion U86-19, 1986 Ga. Op. Att’y Gen. 173 (1986).
State law neither prohibits nor requires public schools to allow either homeschool or umbrella school students to enroll for individual classes, leaving the matter up to the local school district.
Homeschooled students can participate in extracurricular activities if they (1) provide notice to the principal and school district 30 days before the start of the semester in which they will enroll in a qualifying course, (2) the homeschool instructor provides a copy of the student’s most recent annual progress assessment and provides written verification that the student is maintaining satisfactory progress, (3) enrollment in a qualifying course (defined as “a course facilitated by the home study student’s resident school system,” which can include virtual instruction), and (4) abiding by all other rules and requirements that non-homeschooled students must comply with. See Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-319.6
Homeschooled students with disabilities are eligible for special testing in their local public schools, and may also have access to services offered through these schools. This is because Georgia law considers homeschooled students private school students for the purposes of federal IDEA funding.
Early homeschoolers were required to go to the local school district and obtain permission to operate as a private school. Throughout the early 1980s, the state superintendent sought unsuccessfully to define “private school” so as to exclude homeschool. In 1985, the legislature passed the state’s homeschool statute, which was one of the least restrictive in the country. Over a decade later, in 1997, Georgia homeschoolers rebuffed a state lawmaker’s attempt to increase oversight of homeschooling. Finally, under the 2013 Comprehensive Education Bill (HB 283), parents who homeschool are no longer required to report to their local school board, but rather to the state superintendent. In addition, they are required to keep attendance records for three years, but the requirement that they submit them annually was removed.
For more, see A History of Homeschooling in Georgia.
This overview is for informational purposes only and does not constitute the giving of legal advice. Page last updated April 2023.