You have requested an opinion on whether the home schooling of Hannah D~ for the period
of May 2006 through May 2007 qualifies her to receive student benefits, effective
May 2006, on the record of Joseph D~, SSN ~.
As discussed below, Hannah's home schooling qualifies her to receive student benefits
for the months of May 2006, and September 2006 through May 2007.
You provided us with a copy of the "Statement of Intent to Home Educate," completed
by Hannah's mother in August 2006; a copy of the mother's master of physical therapy
degree; a November 2007 letter from the mother, in which she stated the length of
the school year and described Hannah's high school curriculum  ; a "transcript" or record of the courses that Hannah took in the 9th through 12th
grades; a copy of Hannah's "Senior Recital" musical program; a copy of the May 2007
commencement program (the graduates’ names are not listed); Haanah’s PSAT test scores
from 2005; her ACT test scores from June 2006; and her SAT test scores from November
2006 and December 2006.
Section 202(d) of the Social Security Act (the Act), 42 U.S.C. § 402(d), provides,
in pertinent part, that the child of a retired, disabled, or deceased wage earner
(WE) is eligible to receive benefits on the WE's account if at the time of application
she "either had not attained the age of 18 or was a full-time . . . secondary school
student and had not attained the age of 19 . . . ." 42 U.S.C. § 202(d)(1)(B). A "full-time"
secondary student is one "who is in full-time attendance as a student at . . . [a]
secondary school, as determined by the Commissioner of Social Security (in accordance
with regulations prescribed by the Commissioner) in the light of the standards and
practices of the school involved . . . ." 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(7)(A). A secondary
school is a school that provides secondary education "as determined under the law
of the state or other jurisdiction in which it is located." Id. § 402(d)(7)(C).
Under the Commissioner's regulations, home schooling is an appropriate type of secondary
education if it complies with the law of the state or other jurisdiction in which
the student resides. 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1); see POMS § RS 00205.275. The first question to be resolved, therefore, is whether Hannah's home education
met state requirements. To this end, POMS § RS 00205.275 mandates full development and documentation of the home schooling issue.
Public school attendance is compulsory for children between the ages of 7 and 16 in
North Dakota with certain exceptions, one of which is that the child is receiving
"home education." N.D. Cent. Code §§ 15.1-20-01, 15.1-20-02. "Home education" means an educational
program for a child, based in the child's home and supervised by the child's parent
or parents in accordance with certain statutory provisions. Id. § 15.1-23-01.
A parent is qualified to supervise a program of home education if the parent is certified
to teach in North Dakota; has a baccalaureate degree; or has met or exceeded the cutoff
score of the national teacher examination given in North Dakota, or in any other state
if North Dakota does not offer such a test. Id. § 15.1-23-03. A parent who has a high school diploma or a general educational development
certificate also is qualified to supervise home education, but must be monitored by
a certified teacher during the first two years the parent supervises home education.
And, if the child being instructed receives a composite standardized achievement test
score below the fiftieth percentile nationally, monitoring must continue during the
following school year or longer if the child has not achieved the 50th percentile.
Id. § 15.1-23-06.
Home education must be provided for at least 4 hours per day for a minimum of 175
days per year. Id. § 15.1-23-04. In addition, home education must include instruction in those subjects
required by law to be taught to public school students. Id. In order to graduate from high school, a student must have completed at least 21
units of coursework from the minimum required curriculum offerings established by
statute. Id. § 15.1-21-02.1. Those course offerings include:
a. 4 units of English language arts;
b. 4 units of mathematics;
c. 4 units of science;
d. 4 units of social studies, including 1 of world history and 1 of United States
e. ?? unit of health; f. ?? unit of physical education during each school year, provided
that once every four years the unit must be a concept-based fitness class that includes
instruction in the assessment, improvement, and maintenance of personal fitness;
g. 2 units of fine arts, at least one of which must be music;
h. 2 units of the same foreign language; and
i. 2 units of career and technical education.
Id. § 15.1-21-02.
A parent intending to supervise home education must file an annual statement with
the superintendent of the public school district in which the child resides within
14 days of beginning home education, which includes the names and addresses of the
parent who will supervise and the child who will receive home education; the date
of birth and grade level of the child; the qualifications of the parent who will supervise
home education; a list of courses or extracurricular activities in which the child
intends to participate in the public school district; a copy of the child's immunization
record; and proof of the child's identity. Id. § 15.1-23-02.
Every parent supervising home education also must maintain an annual record of courses
taken by the child and the child's academic progress assessments, including any standardized
achievement test results. Id. § 15.1-23-05.
A standardized achievement test used by the public school in the school district in
which the parent resides, or a nationally normed standardized achievement test, must
be given to each child receiving home education in grades 4, 6, 8, and10; it must
be given in the child's learning environment or the public school, and must be administered
by a certified teacher. Id. § 15.1-23-09.
The facts provided show that in August 2006, Hannah's mother completed and filed with
the superintendent of the school district in which she and Hannah reside, a statement
of her intent to supervise home education for Hannah. The statement indicates that
Hannah was in the 12th grade. The statement further indicates that Hannah's mother
has a baccalaureate degree. You provided a copy of the mother's master of physical
therapy degree, which by implication, shows that she holds a baccalaureate degree.
Thus, Hannah's mother was qualified to supervise home education and did not need to
be monitored. And for the 2006-07 school year, she timely filed with the appropriate
party the required statement of intent.
Hannah's mother maintained a "transcript" or annual record of Hannah's high school
courses. The transcript shows that Hannah completed the required 21 units or "credits"
of coursework from the statutory minimum required high school curriculum offerings.
She had 4 units of English, 3 units of mathematics; 3 units of science; 3?? or 4 units
of social studies; ?? unit of health; 2 units of physical education; 2?? units of
fine arts (youth symphony); and 2?? units of foreign language (Spanish), for a total
of at least 21 units. Thus, Hannah met the high school coursework requirement under
North Dakota law.
Hannah's mother stated that the curriculum she used to teach Hannah was ABEKA (Abeka),
which consists of 170 instruction days per school year. Although this is 5 days less
that the statutory minimum of 175 days per year, the curriculum does not include any
extra activities, according to Hannah's mother. She did not state how many hours per
day Hannah attended classes. The Abeka website states that high school class time
is based on 50 minutes of class time, plus homework, for each course. See http://www.abekaacademy.org. Thus, a simple calculation shows that for the 2003-04 school year (9th grade), Hannah
attended 5.4 hours of Abeka classes per day, plus 1?? units of non-Abeka classes;
for the 2004-05 school year (10th grade), she attended 5.8 hours of Abeka classes
per day, plus 1?? units of non-Abeka classes; for the 2005-06 school year (11th grade),
she attended 5 hours of Abeka classes per day, plus ?? units of non-Abeka classes;
and for the 2006-07 school year (12th grade), she attended 2.5 hours of Abeka classes
per day, plus 2 units of non-Abeka classes. Hannah's mother did not indicate where
the non-Abeka classes were taken, but, presumably, Hannah attended the local public
school for these classes, which would have required travel time to and from home.
Attendance includes the required time for changes in student stations. See POMS § RS 00205.310B.
Thus, Hannah attended classes for at least 4 hours per day for the 9th-11th grades,
even if only her home education Abeka classes are considered. For the 2006-07 school
year (12th grade), her combined attendance at Abeka and non-Abeka classes, plus presumed
travel time, shows that she met statutory attendance requirement, as well.
Although Hannah's mother provided the results of Hannah's college entrance tests (PSAT,
SAT, ACT), the results of required public school standardized achievement tests were
not provided. We contacted the home education coordinator for Grand Forks (North Dakota)
Public Schools, who stated that on her 10th-grade standardized achievement test, Hannah
scored in the 96th percentile for reading and math (telephone interview, 1/24/08).
Based on this information, Hannah met the statutory requirement for home education
standardized achievement testing.
Thus, based on the facts presented and independently obtained, Hannah complied with
all North Dakota state requirements for high school home education.
The second question in determining whether Hannah met the federal requirements for
full-time attendance (FTA) as a high school student, for the period May 2006 through
May 2007. See POMS § RS 00205.275B. The Commissioner's regulations provide that a student's "scheduled attendance must
be at the rate of at least 20 hours per week" unless certain exceptions apply. 20
C.F.R. § 404.367(c); see also POMS § RS 00205.300C.
Presumably, Hannah was not attending school for the time period between the 2005-06
and 2006-07 school years (June 2006 through August 2006). As discussed above, Hannah
attended 5 hours of Abeka classes per day, or 25 hours week of home education for
the 2005-06 school year.
Thus, her home schooling alone met the federal requirements for FTA for May 2006.
For the 2006-07 school year, she attended 2.5 hours of Abeka classes per day, or 12.5
hours per week. She also attended 2 units of non-Abeka classes per day. With travel
time included, this would have amounted to at least 8 hours per week, for a total
school attendance of 20.5 hours per week. Thus, Hannah's school attendance appears
to have met the federal requirements for FTA for September 2006 through May 2007.
Accordingly, we advise that:
(1) Hannah complied with all North Dakota state requirements for high school home
(2) Hannah's school attendance met the federal requirements for FTA for the months
of May 2006 and September 2006 through May 2007.
Deana R. E~-L~
Regional Chief Counsel, Region VIII
Thomas H. K
Assistant Regional Counsel