Homeschool Laws in Tennessee: Everything Parents Need to Know

Homeschool laws in tennessee – are you familiar with them? If you’re a parent considering homeschooling in the Volunteer State, it’s crucial to understand the legal requirements. Tennessee has some of the most flexible homeschool laws in the nation, but there are still rules you need to follow. Ignore them at your own peril!

I’ve been homeschooling my kids in Tennessee for years now. When I first started, I was overwhelmed trying to make sense of all the legalese. But once I dug in and figured it out, I realized it’s not as complicated as it seems. Ready to learn what you need to know?

Table of Contents:

Homeschool Laws in Tennessee

Overview of Tennessee Homeschool Laws

In Tennessee, parents have the freedom to choose how to educate their children. And for many families, that means homeschooling. But with that freedom comes responsibility. You’ve got to make sure you’re following all the homeschool laws set by the state.

Don’t worry though, I’ve been navigating these waters for years. And I’m here to break it all down for you. From compulsory school attendance age to notification and enrollment requirements, we’ll cover everything you need to know to homeschool legally in the Volunteer State.

Compulsory School Attendance Age

In Tennessee, kids between the ages of 6 and 17 are required to attend school. But that doesn’t mean they have to go to a traditional public or private school. Homeschooling is a valid option under Tennessee law.

So if your child falls within that age range and you want to homeschool, you’re good to go. Just make sure you’re following all the other requirements we’ll talk about next.

Notification and Enrollment Requirements

If you want to homeschool your child in Tennessee, you’ll need to fill out an Intent to Home School form and send it over to your local school district. This is how they keep track of who’s homeschooling.

You’ll need to submit this form before each school year. And if you decide to start homeschooling mid-year, you’ll need to submit it as soon as you make that decision.

Recordkeeping and Progress Assessment

As a homeschooling parent in Tennessee, you’re required to keep attendance records. You’ll need to track when your child is “in school” and make sure they’re hitting the required 180 days per year.

You’ll also need to submit proof of vaccination or a religious exemption. And in grades 5, 7, and 9, your child will need to take a standardized test to assess their progress.

But don’t stress too much about the testing. It’s just a way for the state to make sure your child is on track. And you get to choose from a list of approved tests, so you can find one that works well for your family.

Homeschooling Options in Tennessee

Independent Homeschooling

When most people think of homeschooling, they picture independent homeschooling. This is where you, the parent, are in charge of every aspect of your child’s education. You choose the curriculum, set the schedule, and teach the lessons.

As an independent homeschooler in Tennessee, you’ll need to follow all the homeschool laws we talked about earlier. But beyond that, the educational choices are up to you. It’s a lot of freedom, but also a lot of responsibility.

Church-Related Umbrella Schools

Need extra support? A church-related umbrella school might be just what you’re searching for. Operated by churches or faith-based organizations, these schools help with supervision, keep records straight, and often provide curriculum suggestions too.

Umbrella schools are considered “Category IV” schools under Tennessee Code Ann. § 49-50-801. This means they’re exempt from some of the regulations that apply to public and independent homeschools. But they still provide a legal way to homeschool in the state.

Accredited Online Schools

Another option for Tennessee homeschoolers is an accredited online school. These are Category III schools that offer a complete curriculum and teacher support, all from the comfort of your own home.

Accredited online schools offer the flexibility of homeschooling without requiring you to handle all subjects alone. They work well for high schoolers seeking something closer to a typical classroom experience.

Category III and Category IV Schools

In Tennessee, Category III schools are online programs that have earned accreditation. The state oversees these distance learning options to make sure they meet required academic standards.

Category IV schools are church-related schools, including umbrella schools. They’re exempt from many of the state’s regulations, but still provide a legal way to homeschool.

Curriculum and Testing Requirements

Curriculum Choices

One of the best parts of homeschooling is getting to choose your own curriculum. In Tennessee, you have a lot of freedom in this area. You can use a pre-packaged curriculum, design your own, or mix and match from various sources.

As long as you include core subjects such as reading, writing, math, science, and social studies in your curriculum you’re good to go. After that base is covered feel free to customize learning experiences based on what sparks your child’s curiosity and fits their way of learning.

Annual Standardized Testing

While you have a lot of freedom in what you teach, Tennessee does require some standardized testing. Specifically, homeschooled students in grades 5, 7, and 9 must take a standardized test each school year.

You can choose from a list of approved tests, including the California Achievement Test, the Stanford Achievement Test, and the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. The test must be administered by a licensed teacher or a testing service approved by the state.

Reporting Test Results

After your child takes their annual standardized test, you’ll need to report the results to your local school district. The results must be submitted by August 1st each year.

Should your child fall under the 35th percentile on the test, you will be required to put together a remedial plan. In this document, outline steps for addressing any areas where they are having difficulty in school.

But don’t panic if your child’s scores are low. Remember, standardized tests are just one measure of academic progress. As long as you’re providing a quality education and your child is learning and growing, you’re doing just fine.

Homeschool Graduation and High School Diplomas

Homeschool Graduation Requirements

In Tennessee, there are no specific graduation requirements for homeschooled students. It’s up to you, the parent, to determine when your child has completed their high school education.

Many homeschooling parents opt to stick with their state’s public school graduation requirements. Usually, this means students need to earn around 22 credits in subjects like English, math, science, and social studies.

But as a homeschooler, you have the flexibility to set your own graduation requirements based on your child’s individual goals and abilities.

Issuing a Homeschool Diploma

When your child has completed their homeschool education, you can issue them a high school diploma. In Tennessee, homeschool diplomas are typically issued by the parent or the umbrella school (if you’re enrolled in one).

When creating your homeschool diploma, be sure to include your child’s name, date of birth, and graduation date. Keeping a detailed record of their high school coursework and grades is also wise. These records can come in handy for college applications or job hunting.

Transcripts and College Admissions

If your homeschooled student plans to attend college, they’ll likely need to provide a transcript of their high school coursework. As a homeschooling parent, it’s your responsibility to create this transcript.

Your transcript should list all the courses your child completed in high school, along with the grades they earned and the credits they received. If you’re not sure how to format a transcript, there are plenty of templates and resources available online.

Make sure you reach out to the colleges your child is considering. They often have special admissions rules for homeschooled kids that could include more documents or exams.

Homeschooler Access to Public School Resources

Participation in Public School Classes and Activities

Did you know that homeschooled students in Tennessee have the right to participate in classes and extracurricular activities at their local public school? It’s true. Under Tennessee Code Ann. § 49-6-3050, homeschoolers can request to attend classes or participate in sports, clubs, and other activities at their zoned public school.

Of course, there are a few caveats. Your child will need to meet the same eligibility requirements as public school students. And their participation is subject to space availability and the school’s policies.

In general, homeschoolers can really benefit from using the programs and opportunities offered by nearby public schools.

Special Education Services

Homeschooled students with disabilities are entitled to special education services through their local public school district. If you suspect your child has a learning disability or other special need, you can request an evaluation from your district’s special education department.

When it turns out that your child needs some help at school, you’ll collaborate with the district to craft an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The IEP lists all the services and accommodations available—whether that’s therapy, additional tutoring time, or assistive devices.

Opting for special education services in your area means you’ll need to stick to their rules. Expect additional paperwork and possibly a few sit-downs with school personnel.

Education Savings Accounts

Tennessee’s Education Savings Account (ESA) program helps eligible students, including those who are homeschooled. It covers costs for things like curriculum, tutoring sessions, and therapy services.

To be eligible for an ESA, your child must have an IEP and meet certain income requirements. If approved, you’ll receive an annual deposit into a special savings account that you can use for approved educational expenses.

Homeschooling families can benefit from the ESA program, which offers extra financial support for their children’s education. Just make sure to go through all the requirements and guidelines before you apply.

Key Takeaway:

In Tennessee, homeschooling offers freedom but comes with specific laws. Parents must submit an Intent to Home School form yearly and keep attendance records. Kids aged 6-17 need schooling, which can include homeschooling if all requirements are met. Standardized testing is needed in grades 5, 7, and 9.

Conclusion

So there you have it – the essentials of homeschool laws in tennessee. It’s not as daunting as it may seem at first glance. With a bit of research and planning, you can confidently navigate the legal requirements and give your kids a top-notch home education.

Remember, there are different paths available like independent homeschooling, joining an umbrella school, or signing up for an accredited online program. Make sure you’re clear about what’s needed for each route. Stay organized with records and tests to keep things smooth.

If you’re homeschooling in Tennessee, it’s a fantastic chance to create an educational path that fits both your child’s needs and family beliefs perfectly. With the flexibility provided by state law, you’ve got all the tools to succeed! Keep it up, homeschool champion!