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Google “homeschooling in PA” and you’re likely to come across a myriad of articles and blogs lamenting the fact that it’s one of the strictest states regarding homeschool law. I myself am guilty of having written a rather lengthy diatribe about the injustices of what Pennsylvanians have to endure compared to other less-regulated states.
Since the end of the year is looming and evaluations are creeping up on us, I felt that now was the time to clarify that homeschooling in PA is not so bad after all. As of October 31, 2014, some changes were made to this law that make our situation much more palatable than it once was. Here is a quick overview of the changes, but I do encourage anyone with questions to visit askpauline.com for a more detailed description of what is expected of homeschool facilitators.
- Portfolios and standardized test scores are no longer to be turned into the school district. Present them only to your evaluator. All that is now required to give to the school district is the evaluation letter you receive from your evaluator. That’s it. If your school district asks for anything else, inform them that you are in compliance with the law.
2. Evaluator-signed high school diplomas are now given equal weight with accredited diplomas. There is no longer any need to go through a third party for your child’s diploma if you do not wish to.
Beyond these changes, there are also a few things I learned about the existing law that I either misinterpreted or was misinterpreted for me. Since my former evaluator was a bit strict, I always believed that the required log was to include a short description of what was accomplished each day, or at the very least, some check marks to show which subjects were covered. This is not the case. The log is merely supposed to be a book log. That’s it. Some people write the dates they use each book and include any websites, DVDs, or documentaries used. I do not even do that.
I spent years writing down what my kids did for “school” every.single.night. This is not easy when you have a large number of kids to do this for. It would sometimes take me a good hour or more just to do this. When I discovered that this wasn’t necessary, I just about (or maybe did…) break out into the “Hallelujah Chorus.” I wish someone had told me that years ago. I could have saved so much time.
As for documenting the 180 day “school year,” this can be done several ways. If you enjoy writing out a detailed log, you can easily number the days. Otherwise, you can simply mark off 180 days on a printable calendar. My own evaluator only asks for a written statement that we homeschooled for 180 days because she, like most homeschoolers, believes that requirement is silly since our kids are certainly home and learning every single day, since living and learning can’t really be separated.
So, if you’re new to homeschooling and are more than a little anxious about PA homeschool law, I’m telling you now… it’s a piece of cake.
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