Tennessee Homestudy Requirements
- Tennessee parents have four options to offer home instruction.school image by horacio villamonte from Fotolia.com
Parents might decide to home-school their children for a variety of reasons including religious beliefs or dissatisfaction with the quality of local education. The state of Tennessee allows parents to choose this route and they have four different options, each with different requirements to be permissible under state law. All children must stay in school until they are at least 17. Anyone with questions related to any aspect of home schooling should contact the local superintendent's office where her child would normally attend school, the state Department of Education or another qualified office for definitive information.
- A parent choosing Option I decides to educate her child at home without any affiliation with any type of organization. This option contains the most stringent requirements, as the child is not affiliated with any kind of religious or private school and must meet many of the requirements set forth for public school children in the state.
By Aug. 1 of every year, the parent must inform the superintendent of the intent to home-school. The child must receive instruction four hours a day,180 days a year, and parents must send an attendance record at the end of every school year.
To teach a child in kindergarten through eighth grade, the parent must have at least a high school diploma or GED, while a parent teaching a child in grades nine through 12 must have at least a bachelor's degree. In some instances, the Commission of Education can waive this requirement, but, according to the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, this does not happen very often. The law does not mandate subject matter for kindergarten through eighth grade education, but those teaching a child in grades nine through 12 must use a college prep curriculum or the general course work needed for graduation typically taught in the school.
During grades five, seven and nine, the child must take a standardized test administered by the Commissioner of Education. Any student whose scores in any key area, such as reading or math, indicate he is behind his peers by six to nine months must receive remedial instruction designed by the parent and a certified teacher.
- Parents choosing Option II educate their child--and possibly others--in the home but affiliate with a church-related school. The law cannot regulate the curriculum or teaching requirements except that parents teaching a ninth- through 12th-grader must have at least a high school diploma or the equivalent and register students in these grades with the local school district. These students must receive instruction 180 days a year, but the school can set daily instruction hours.
Children receiving home instruction need to take the same standardized achievement tests given to children who physically attend the school. Students in grades nine through 12 must take the same yearly achievement test administered by the local school board.
- Option III is somewhat similar to Option II, except that in this instance, the parents register their home as a satellite, not just an affiliate, of the actual school. Since the law does not consider these students "home-schooled" in the typical sense of the word, the parents do not need to meet any of the testing requirements, teacher qualifications, registration and notice requirements of home-schooled children. The state cannot regulate the curriculum, but parents must teach their children for at least 180 days and the number of hours set forth by the school.
- In Option IV, the child receives instruction in a distance learning program by a private school accredited by one of the five regional accrediting associations such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Teaching and testing requirements and hours of instruction will depend on the individual institution, but students must receive at least 180 days of instruction.