GA HB 39: Georgia Homeschooling Law Changes Beginning 2012 / 2013 School Year

{How to Homeschool in Georgia}

UPDATES: Since writing this column, the Georgia Department of Education has updated their website.  All the instructions and online forms (which look very simple!) can be accessed by clicking here.

JULY 2013: Additional changes have been made to the law. Starting this month, Georgia homeschoolers do not have to submit attendance forms to the Department of Education. Please keep them in your own files.

AUGUST 2013: I have created the Free DOCUMENT Georgia’s Kindergarten and Homeschooling Laws for your information. You can also find it on my Printables page.

Note: This column was printed in the Barrow Journal on May 30, 2012.  For information on the homeschooling law for kindergarten in Georgia, see this post.

Some changes have been made to the homeschooling law in Georgia, and they will go into effect July 1, 2012. There are two major changes that homeschoolers need to be aware of.  The first is that they will no longer turn in their paperwork to their local school districts.  Now they will report directly to the Department of Education.

The second major change is that homeschoolers will only be required to turn in attendance forms once a year to the Department of Education.  Currently homeschoolers have to turn in a monthly attendance form to their local school district.  This change will no doubt come as a relief to many homeschooling parents.

I called the Department of Education (DOE) and a spokesperson told me that they hope to have all the instructions and forms on their website by mid-June. (UPDATE: The Department of Education’s instructions and online submittal forms are posted here.)  They will try to make the process as easy as possible, and the forms will be available on their website to submit electronically.  There will be other options for turning in the forms as well.

I’ll wager that the DOE will make the process easy because it’s in their interest to do so.  In the 2010/2011 school year, there were 107,509 homeschooled students in Georgia, and that number may increase in coming years.  This coming fall, my eldest son will be added to that number for the first time.

The spokesperson said they would also find a way to help students who require proof of attendance to apply for a driver’s license at age 16 so that they won’t have to wait until the end of the school year to do so.

With these changes in mind, the following are the requirements that parents or guardians must follow in order to homeschool in Georgia:

  • Parents or guardians of homeschoolers are required to submit a declaration of intent to homeschool within 30 days of establishing such a program and thereafter by September 1 each year.  Compulsory attendance is for children between the ages of six and sixteen, but any child under seven who has been enrolled in public school for 20 days or more will need to submit a declaration of intent to homeschool.
  • The declaration needs to list the names and ages of the students, the address of the home study program, and a statement of the 12-month period that is to be considered the school year.
  • Parents or guardians may teach only their own children, and they must possess at least a high school diploma or GED, but they can employ a tutor who holds a high school diploma or GED.
  • The law states, “The home study program shall provide a basic academic educational program which includes, but is not limited to, reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science.”
  • The home study program must provide instruction each 12 months to the students equivalent to 180 school days with each day consisting of at least 4.5 hours unless the child is physically unable to comply.
  • Attendance records must be kept and submitted annually to the Department of Education.
  • The law states, “Students in home study programs shall be subject to an appropriate nationally standardized testing program administered in consultation with a person trained in the administration and interpretation of norm reference tests…” beginning at the end of the 3rd grade and every three years after that.  The spokesperson at the DOE recommended that parents use a nationally recognized test.  Homeschoolers can find a list of such tests here: http://www.ghea.org/pages/testing/standardizedTests.php. Note that a parent can administer the test after consulting with someone at the test’s publisher, or they could ask a local teacher to administer the test.  The results of the tests do not need to be shared with anyone, and parents need only retain them for their own records.
  • Finally, the home study program instructor needs to write an annual progress assessment report which will include her assessment of the student’s academic progress in each of the subject areas listed above, and parents need to retain these reports for at least three years.  (These annual reports do not have to be submitted to anyone either.)

The spokesperson also stated that the exams and annual progress report are important for homeschooled students because they may be needed in case that student ever needs to enroll in public school (though several homeschoolers have told me public schools have not required these items upon enrollment of their homeschooled child), or they may be used as part of a portfolio for applying to college.  He said that homeschooled students who are considering college should look at the requirements of the colleges they will be applying to and consider those requirements as they proceed in their course of study for high school.

See the Department of Education for more information.

Since I’m writing what was related to me by the spokesperson at DOE, I welcome any comments from seasoned homeschoolers Re: their experience homeschooling in Georgia and compliance with the law.

12 Responses to “GA HB 39: Georgia Homeschooling Law Changes Beginning 2012 / 2013 School Year”

  1. For those families wanting to file their documents online, you can now file your 2012/2013 Declaration of Intent for FREE through HomeschoolCompliance.com.

    Call me if you have any other questions,

    Scott Meadows

    https://www.homeschoolcompliance.com

    http://www.facebook.com/homeschoolcompliance

    (706)-353-3548

    • Thank you, Scott. When the time comes, I’ll figure out the easiest way to file. Dept. of Ed. indicated that they would have an online filing system too.

  2. I clicked over to your blog from Simple Homeschool this morning, and was surprised to see such a relevant post! I, too, homeschool twin boys in Georgia. I find Georgia to be a very homeschool friendly state. The changes do not seem like they will affect me much at all. Thanks for the information! I hadn’t heard about this yet.

  3. Thank you so much for this legal information. My daughter was enrolled in public school last year for the first time for 3rd grade so she got all of the testing done. My son is a rising “first grader” so I will not need to think about testing for a couple of years. My daughter will be pleased to know that she won’t have to sit “forever” after the testing is over waiting for others to finish and not even be allowed to read a book. Imagine 8 and 9 year olds sitting idle in school because of testing and not even allowed to READ if they finish the tests and “time” isn’t up for all yet. Ironic, ey? Also, I am not going to miss that lunch room at lunch time. My husband said it was like a scene out of Lord of the Flies. And this was one of the top EL schools in our state. We tried to make the best of it and I felt like I was helping others by being there. But it’s time to move on and try to create a new normal and new standard. I am so thankful that I CAN do this as a stay at home mom.

    • Thanks for this comment, Angela. Yes, having to sit there after a test and not even read is definitely not fun. I think schools do the best they can, but having so many students in one classroom forces them to have restrictions that smaller groups wouldn’t need. I am so thankful I am able to homeschool too!

Trackbacks

I would love to hear your thoughts. I try my best to respond to every comment, but please be patient with me.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 306 other followers

%d bloggers like this: