Some states require homeschooling parents to provide instruction in a list of subjects while others require them to provide instruction in the same subjects required in public schools or to provide “equivalent instruction” to that provided in public schools. Still other states do not have subject requirements. Similarly, some states require parents to provide a set number of days or hours of instruction while other states set no requirements regarding instruction time.
Many states have instruction time requirements but do not specify what the required instruction must cover. In these states, parents may be able to legally fulfill the instruction time requirements by providing instruction in some subject areas while neglecting others completely. Similarly, many states require parents to provide instruction in a list of required subjects but do not stipulate the level of this instruction. In these states, parents may be able to legally fulfill the subject requirements by providing a 9th grade student with 2nd grade instruction.
Some states require instruction to be sequentially progressive, at students’ developmental level, or commensurate with students’ ability. Provided that homeschooling’s flexibility is preserved, these sorts of requirements would go a long way toward fixing current problems. However, even the most effectively worded subject requirements will not replace the need for an assessment mechanism.
Well, not exactly. Consider the following:
This means that in fourteen states, parents may homeschool without being legally required to provide instruction in any given subject. In addition, neither South Dakota nor Texas include science in their list of required subjects for homeschooled students.
We recommend requiring parents to provide instruction (or facilitate learning) in the same range of subjects (e.g. English, math, science, history, etc.) taught in public schools in the state in which they live. This provision is currently in place in states such as California and North Dakota. We recommend requiring this instruction to be sequential and commensurate with students’ ability, as is required in states like Wisconsin and Florida. Because homeschooling allows for positive flexibility and child-led learning, we oppose requiring students to be at grade level in each subject. We recommend clear requirements regarding what instruction must be provided (or what learning must be facilitated) at the high school level (e.g. biology, chemistry, algebra, etc.). We recognize that homeschoolers may take a nontraditional approach to fulfilling certain requirements, and therefore recommend that oversight be more concerned with learning taking place in each subject area than with how that learning is imparted.
No. We support subject requirements that require parents to provide instruction in the same subjects taught in public school—math, science, English, etc.—but we are opposed to requiring parents to use the same textbooks or follow the same educational schedule as public schools. We believe that student learning is more important than what curriculum or instructional methods are used.