PS 08005.047 Tennessee
A. PS 07-143 Requirements for Church Affiliated Home School, Tennessee Claimant - Jeremy W~ Wage Earner - Rickey W~
DATE: May 25, 2007
Tennessee recognizes home schooling, church-related private schools, and home schools affiliated with church-related schools. Each of these options has specific requirements.
A home school parent/teacher must meet the attendance, testing, and credential requirements in Tenn. Stat. § 49-6-3050(b).
Give notice to the local school director by August 1 (or by September 1 with payment of a penalty) of his/her intent to conduct a home school and include the name, number, age, and grade level of the child, the location of the school, the curriculum, proposed hours of instruction, and the qualifications of the parent/teacher;
Maintain attendance records and submit them to the director of schools at the end of each school year;
Instruct at least four hours per day for the same number of instructional days required by state law for public schools;
Have a high school diploma or GED to conduct classes in kindergarten through grade 8 or have a baccalaureate degree or exemption if conducting classes in grades 9 through 12;
Comply with administration of approved standardized tests to students in grades five, seven, and nine;
Consult with the director of schools if the student falls three to six months behind the home school student's appropriate grade level, based on the results of the standardized tests;
Consult with a teacher licensed by the state board of education if the student falls six to nine months behind the appropriate grade level and, with the teacher, design a remedial course for the child;
Enroll the student in a public, private, or church-related school, if required by the local director of schools, if the student falls more than a year behind the appropriate grade level;
Notify the local director of schools in writing whether he/she is conducting a college preparatory or general course of study to a student in grades nine through twelve. If the course is general, it must include courses required by the state for graduation from public high schools. If the course is college preparatory, it must include areas of study required for admission into public four-year colleges operated by the state; and
Submit proof of vaccination and other required health services or examinations to the local director of schools.
Church-Related Private School
A church-related private school must:
Be accredited by or a member of one of the organizations listed in Tenn. Stat. § 49-6-3050(b): the Tennessee Association of Christian Schools; the Association of Christian Schools International; the Tennessee Association of Independent Schools; the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools; the Tennessee Association of Non-Public Academic Schools; the Tennessee Association of Church Related Schools; or a school associated with Accelerated Christian Education, Inc.;
Supervise the home school; and
Administer standardized achievement tests at the same time the tests are given in regular day school.
Home Schools Affiliated with Church-Related Schools
In addition to the requirements for a church-related private school, a home school affiliated with a church-related private school must also meet the following requirements:
The parent or teacher of grade 9-12 must have at least a high school diploma or generalized educational development (GED) certificate;
The student must be administered an annual standardized achievement test or the Sanders Model of value-added assessment, whichever the local education association (LEA) uses and the state board of education approves;
The student must be registered with the LEA the student would attend if not in the home school; and
A student who fails for two consecutive years to meet or surpass the average achievement level in the Sanders Model or other standardized achievement test in use in the LEA must be enrolled in the appropriate grade level of the LEA or church-related school.The parent or teacher must submit evidence of compliance with one of these options.
In considering this claim for Child's benefits, you asked whether the church-related home school Jeremy W~ (Claimant) attends meets the requirements of Tennessee law.
The materials submitted by Claimant are not adequate to establish that his school meets Tennessee requirements. Unless and until he furnishes the required documentation, we cannot conclude that Claimant qualifies as a full-time elementary or secondary school student.
According to the materials and information we received, Claimant receives benefits as a non-disabled child of Rickey W~, deceased. Claimant will turn 18 on June 13, 2007, and desires to continue benefits as a full-time student. He submitted Form SSA-1372-BK, "Student's Statement Regarding School Attendance," in which he states that he attends Faith Missionary Academy as a Satellite High School Home Schooler, attending over 20 hours per week. The director of Faith Missionary Academy, Pastor S. D. S~, stated upon phone inquiry that the school has a campus, and some students are home-schooled with a curriculum provided by the school. Pastor S~ indicated the Academy does follow-ups with the home schoolers once per month and the course of study exceeds 13 weeks.
To qualify for child's benefits on the earnings record of an insured person who has died, a claimant 18 years or older who is not disabled must be a full-time elementary or secondary school student. See Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d)(1)(F); 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(1)(F); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.350(a)(5), 404.367 (2007). An individual is a full time elementary or secondary school student if he is "instructed in elementary or secondary school at home in accordance with a home school law of the State or other jurisdiction in which [the Claimant] reside[s]." 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(1) (2007.) Claimant resides in Tennessee; therefore, we look to Tennessee law to determine if his schooling under the auspices of Faith Missionary Academy qualifies.
Tennessee allows home schooling, church-related private schools, and also a hybrid relevant to this case, home schools affiliated with church-related schools. See TENN. STAT. § 49-6-3050(a)(2)(B) (2007). Generally, a home school has extensive attendance, testing, and credential requirements. See TENN. STAT. § 49-6-3050(b) (2007). However, a home school affiliated with a church-related school has a shorter and less stringent list of requirements, provided that the church-related school:
(1) is accredited by or a member of one of the organizations listed in the statute defining church-related schools at TENN. STAT. § 49-50-801;
(2) supervises the home school;
(3) administers standardized achievement tests at the same time such tests are given in the regular day school.
See TENN. STAT. § 49-6-3050(a)(2)(A) (2007). In addition to these requirements for the supervising school, the satellite home school must meet the following requirements:
(1) the grade 9-12 parent/teacher must possess at least a high school diploma or generalized educational development certificate (GED);
(2) the student shall be administered an annual standardized achievement test or the Sanders Model of value-added assessment, whichever is use in the LEA (local education agency; i.e., local school board) and sanctioned by the state board of education;
(3) the student must be registered with the LEA the student would otherwise attend;
(4) if the student fails, for two consecutive years, to meet or surpass the average level of achievement in the Sanders Model of value-added assessment or other standardized achievement test in use in the LEA, the child must be enrolled in the appropriate grade level of the LEA or church-related school.
See TENN. STAT. § 49-6-3050(a)(2)(B, C) (2007).
Claimant's parent/teacher has the burden to show that these requirements are met before SSA can approve the home school as an educational institution: "The child's home school instructor must submit evidence that State requirements for home schooling are met." POMS RS 00205.275C. Claimant's instructor has not documented these seven requirements. In regard to the first, Pastor S~ stated via telephone that Faith Missionary Academy is a member of TANAS, the Tennessee Association of Non-Public Academic Schools, and TANAS is one of the accrediting agencies listed in the statute for church-related home schools. See TENN. STAT. § 49-50-801(a) (2007). However, TANAS has an extensive list of requirements for membership or accreditation. See <http://www.tanasonline.org>, Downloadable Documents, Category IV Manual p. 18. We do not know whether Faith Missionary Academy is a current member in good standing, and the safe course would be to have the parent/instructor submit a copy of Faith Missionary Academy's current certification from TANAS.
For these reasons, we recommend that you deny the claim unless and until Claimant or the parent/teacher documents compliance with the seven state requirements listed above.
Mary Ann S~
Regional Chief Counsel
Assistant Regional Counsel