BASIC (12-06)

PS 08005.042 Pennsylvania

A. PS 03-133 ASHLEY A. G~, SSN:~ Whether Ashley A. G~'s Home Schooling Satisfies the Requirements for Full-time Secondary School Attendance Under Pennsylvania and Federal Law

DATE: May 14, 2003

1. SYLLABUS

The State of Pennsylvania recognizes home schooling as a legitimate form of elementary or secondary education. Pennsylvania's home education statute requires that:

  • A parent, guardian, or other person having legal custody of the child (or children) file a notarized affidavit before the beginning of the home education program and annually thereafter on August 1, with the superintendent of the district in which the child lives, attesting that the home school program meets all of the requirements of Pennsylvania law;

  • The home education's supervisor show that the child is receiving an appropriate education;

  • The home education program's supervisor provide, for students in grades three, five and eight, the results of national standardized achievement tests in reading/language arts and mathematics or the results of Statewide tests administered in these grade levels; and

  • The home education program provide a minimum of 180 days of instruction or 990 hours per year.

The parent or home school instructor should submit evidence that the home education program meets these requirements.

2. OPINION

QUESTION PRESENTED

This is in response to your April 7, 2003 request for an opinion concerning whether, for the purposes of student benefits, the home schooling of Ashley A. G~ (Ashley) qualifies as full-time secondary school attendance (FTA) under Pennsylvania and federal law.

SUMMARY

The issue in this case is whether Ashley is eligible to receive student benefits. The specific issue in this case is whether Ashley satisfies both state and federal standards for FTA. To satisfy those standards, her home school must meet the requirements of state law in which the home school is located. Based upon the information that you have provided, and our research of Pennsylvania law, we advise that Ashley's home schooling meets both state and federal standards for FTA.

BACKGROUND

In general, an individual is eligible for student benefits if she:

  1. meets the requirements for child's benefits;

  2. has attained age eighteen;

  3. is in FTA;

  4. is attending an educational institution that provides elementary or secondary level courses; and

  5. has not attained age nineteen, or has attained age nineteen in a month when she is in FTA and meets the conditions in RS 00205.325 for benefits beyond that month.

POMS RS 00205.001(A).

When a child is receiving home schooling, the POMS provides that student benefits are payable if the following criteria are met:

  1. the student meets federal standards for FTA;

  2. the law of the state in which the home school is located recognizes home schooling as an educational institution;

  3. the home school the student attends meets the requirements of state law in which the home school is located; and

  4. the student meets all the other requirements for benefits.

POMS RS 00205.275.

To meet federal standards for FTA, the student must be:

  1. scheduled for attendance at the rate of at least twenty hours per week;

  2. enrolled in a course that is not a correspondence course; and

  3. enrolled in a course of study that is of at least thirteen weeks' duration.

POMS RS 00205.300(C), see also 20 C.F.R. § 404.367.

DISCUSSION

The documentation which you have provided shows that Ashley's home schooling would be considered FTA. The SSA-1372, which was completed by Jane E. G~, Ashley's mother, on March 18, 2003, provides that Ashley is scheduled to attend home schooling twenty to twenty-five hours per week.

Based upon the information that you provided to us, Ashley is being home schooled by her mother and is following the curriculum in accordance with the Carbondale Area School District's home schooling policy. Therefore, she is not enrolled in a correspondence course.

The SSA-1372 which Ashley's mother completed on March 18, 2003 also shows that Ashley's school year began on September 6, 2002, and is expected to end on June 5, 2003. Therefore, she is enrolled in a course of study that is of at least thirteen weeks' duration.

Based upon the foregoing, Ashley meets the federal standards for FTA, and, therefore, has satisfied the first criteria under the POMS RS 00205.275.

With respect to the second criteria under the POMS RS 00205.275, an educational institution is a school that provides elementary or secondary education (grade 12 or below) as determined under the law of the State or other jurisdiction in which it is located. POMS RS 00205.200(A). Ashley's home school is located in Pennsylvania. The law of the state of Pennsylvania recognizes home schooling as a legitimate form of elementary or secondary education. See 24 P.S. § 13.1327.1 (Pennsylvania's home education statute). Therefore, Ashley has met the second criteria under the POMS RS 00205.275.

With respect to the third criteria under the POMS RS 00205.275, Pennsylvania's home education statute requires a notarized affidavit of the parent or guardian or other person having legal custody of the child or children, filed prior to the commencement of the home education program and annually thereafter on August 1 with the superintendent of the school district of residence attesting that the home school program meets all of the specific requirements of Pennsylvania law. 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(1). The information that you have provided to us contains the August 1, 2002 notarized affidavit of Jane G~, Ashley's mother, who also serves as the supervisor of Ashley's home education program. By letter dated March 18, 2003, on Carbondale Area Jr.-Sr. High School stationary, Principal Paul M. K~, Ed.D., acknowledged receipt of the "current school year (2002-2003) affidavit for the approved home schooling plan that has been in place for your daughter Ashley . . . for the 11th grade course of study." Principal K~ letter also provides that he has "annually approved and reviewed the academic progress made by Ashley during the current school year and at the end of that school year" and that Ashley has "always been in compliance with the provisions of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's and the Carbondale Area School District's policy regarding Home Schooling." This letter is sufficient to establish that Ashley meets the requirements of state law and that she should be considered to have met state full-time attendance standards. See POMS RS 00205.300(B), RS 00205.350(D)(1) (providing that state full-time attendance standards should be considered met if a school official provides a statement indicating that the school considers the student to be in full-time attendance). See also 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1).

In order to conform to the requirements of the Pennsylvania home education statute, the supervisor of the home education program, in this case Ashley's mother, must also demonstrate that an "appropriate education" is occurring. 24 P.S. § 1327.1(e). If the superintendent of the public school district determines either during or at the end of the school year that appropriate education is not taking place for the child in the home education program, the superintendent will notify the supervisor of the home education program by certified mail of non-compliance. 24 P.S. § 1327.1(i). There is no evidence of non-compliance in the materials that you have provided to us. Indeed, Mr. K~'s letter states that Ashley's parents have always been in compliance with Pennsylvania's policy regarding home schooling.

Pennsylvania's home education statute also requires that the supervisor of the home education program provide and maintain on file a portfolio of records and materials. 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(e)(1). Based upon Mr. K~ letter of March 18, 2003, it appears that Ashley's mother has provided a portfolio for review by school personnel.

The POMS RS 00205.275(C)(Example 2) provides that some states may require annual testing of home schooled students. In Pennsylvania, the supervisor of a home school program for students in grades three, five and eight is required to provide the results of nationally normed standardized achievement tests in reading/language arts and mathematics or the results of Statewide tests administered in these grade levels. 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(e)(1). The materials that you have provided show that Ashley is currently in the eleventh grade and, therefore, not subject to this requirement.

Pennsylvania's home education statute also provides that a child who is enrolled in a home education program at the secondary level shall be deemed to have met Pennsylvania's compulsory school attendance requirements if the home education program provides a minimum of one hundred eighty (180) days of instruction or nine hundred ninety (990) hours per year.

24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(c).

The SSA-1372, which was completed by Jane E. G~, provides that Ashley is in full-time attendance, and scheduled to attend home schooling twenty to twenty-five hours per week from September 6, 2002 to June 5, 2003. In addition, the notarized affidavit of Jane E. G~ provides that courses will be offered in the English language for a minimum of one hundred eighty (180) days of instruction or a minimum of nine hundred ninety (990) hours of instruction at the secondary school level. As noted above, the materials that you have provided contain a letter from Principal Paul M. K~ indicating that Mr. and Mrs. G~ "have always been in compliance with the provisions of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's and the Carbondale Area School District's policy regarding Home Schooling." Based upon the foregoing, it appears that Ashley meets Pennsylvania's compulsory attendance requirements. Accordingly, because Ashley's home schooling would be considered FTA, she would be eligible to receive student benefits assuming that she meets all other requirements for benefits. See n. 4, supra.

CONCLUSION

For the reasons stated above, it is our opinion that Ashley's home schooling meets both state and federal standards for FTA.

James A. W~
Regional Chief Counsel

By:__________________________
Beverly H. Z~
Assistant Regional Counsel


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/1608005042
PS 08005.042 - Pennsylvania - 05/28/2009
Batch run: 05/28/2009
Rev:05/28/2009