PR 08005.053 Washington
A. PR 00-022 Home Schooling in Washington
DATE: October 30,1996
The laws of the State of Washington recognize home schooling as an educational institution. Home school is referred to as "home-based instruction" in Washington state.
State law requires that the number of hours of home-based instruction be equivalent to the hours for private school which is no less than 180 school days or the number of hours required by the child's grade level.
Each parent of a child receiving home-based instruction must file an annual declaration of intent. They must also ensure that a standardized achievement test is administered annually to the child or an assessment of the student's progress made by a qualified individual.
The parent is also responsible for ensuring that the instruction provided is planned and supervised, and includes educational activities consisting of occupational education, science, mathematics, language, social studies, history, health, reading, writing, spelling and the development of an appreciation of art and music.
The activities must be provided by:
1) a parent and supervised by a certified person,
2) a parent who has earned forty-five college level credit hours or its equivalent in semester hours or who has completed a course in home based instruction, or
3) a parent who is deemed sufficiently qualified by the superintendent of the local school district.
If the student is alleging he/she is being taught in home school, ask the parent(s) to provide the information above.
Last month you requested that our office provide an opinion on the status of home schooling in Washington. The request was presented in the form of three queries, each of which will be addressed in turn as follows:
(1) Whether a home schooling situation in Washington qualifies under section 202(d)(7) of the Social Security Act as a school that provides elementary or secondary education as determined under the laws of the State of Washington.
Brief answer Yes.
Discussion: The Social Security Act, section 202(d)(7)(C)(I) defines an elementary or secondary school as a school which provides elementary or secondary education, respectively, as determined under the law of the State or other jurisdiction in which it is located. In Washington State, "home-based instruction" (the name by which home schooling is referred) is codified by RCW 28A.225.010(4)(Attachment A).
(2) If the requirements in 20 C.F.R. 404.367(b) regarding scheduled attendance of at least 20 hours per week and a course of study of 13 weeks are met by students enrolled in home schooling situations in Washington .
Brief answer: If home-based instruction was performed in accordance with the requirements of Washington state law, 20 C.F.R. 404.367(b) would be satisfied. However, whether or not a student actually meets the criteria for proper home-based instruction in Washington must be determined based upon the facts presented in each case.
Discussion: Pursuant to RCW 28A.225.010(4)(Attachment A), the number of hours of home-based instruction must be equivalent to the total annual program hours per grade level established for approved private schools under RCW 28A.195.010. This is no less than 180 school days, or the equivalent in annual minimum program hour offerings as prescribed in RCW 28A.150.220 (which provides for different minimums dependent upon the child's grade level)(Appendix B). Thus, if the attendance criteria established by the State of Washington for home based instruction is met, the minimum requirements established in 20 C.F.R. 404.367 are also met.
(3) What requirements must be followed in home schooling situations; e.g., must specific subjects be taught; are students tested; must parents seek written approval from the school board; are there any specific attendance requirements or verification.
Brief Answer: The specific requirements for home based instruction in Washington State are set forth in RCW Chapter 28A.200 and 28A.225.010 with cross reference to requirements for public schools in RCW 28A.195.010.
Discussion: RCW 28A.225.010 (Attachment A) establishes that all parents (defined as parent, guardian, or person having legal custody of the child) of any child ages eight to eighteen shall cause such child to attend public school unless ... the child is receiving home based instruction ... which consists of planned and supervised instructional and related educational activities, including a curriculum and instruction in the basic skills of occupational education, science, mathematics, language, social studies, history, health, reading, writing, spelling and the development of an appreciation of art and music. Such activities must be: (1) provided by a parent and supervised by a certified person; or (2) provided by a parent who has earned forty-five college level credit hours or its equivalent in semester hours or who has completed a course in home based instruction; or (3) provided by a parent who is deemed sufficiently qualified by the superintendent of the local school district. Further, RCW 28A.225.010(5) states that: "The legislature recognizes that home-based instruction is less structured and more experiential than the instruction normally provided in a classroom setting. Therefore, the provisions of subsection (4) of this section relating to the nature and quantity of instructional and related educational activities shall be liberally construed."
RCW Chapter 28A.200 (Attachment C) outlines parents additional duties. A parent must file a signed declaration of intent annually that he or she is planning to cause his or her child to receive home based instruction. Parents must ensure that test scores or annual academic progress assessments and immunization records, along with records of instruction and educational activities are forwarded to any school a child may transfer to. If a child wishes to enroll in a public or private school, the school may require the child to take a standardized achievement test. Regardless, a standardized achievement test approved by the state board of education is administered annually. If there are any deficiencies noted, the parent is to make a good faith effort to correct them. If not, then the child will be deemed as failing to attend school.
RCW 28A.200.020, however, provides that 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, unless specified in RCW 28A.200.020.