Here we are in the middle of May. Time flies when you’re having fun, right?
For those of us who homeschool in states that require some sort of end-of-the-year reporting to our school districts, right about now is when we start scampering around collecting work samples, finishing up portfolios, and having our kids interviewed by our homeschool evaluators.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Not.
As we finish up our 8th year of homeschooling one very important issue keeps creeping up on me again and again- overcompliance. (Watch my video on this subject here.)
I’m pretty sure that most people don’t think much about this, but as someone who tends to dwell on things, I do, and with good reason.
3 Reasons to Avoid Overcompliance with Your State Homeschool Laws
(and how to go about doing it!)
1. It makes things harder for homeschoolers who follow the law as it is written.
When I was a newbie homeschooler, I used to love giving my school district overflowing, phone book-sized portfolios to show them just how awesome our home education program was. Since I was new to the game (and a bit naive), I didn’t know much about our state homeschool laws. Unbeknownst to me, I was giving our school district waaaay more than the law required, which may not seem like a problem at first, until you realize this one thing…
Overcompliance can make families who comply with the homeschool law by doing exactly what it says, and no more, look like they aren’t doing their job, which is not true.
The thing is, presuming that the law requires some work samples, if one family turns in a 3-inch thick binder, while another family gives a folder with 2 or 3 samples for each subject, the school district may start to expect everyone to give huge portfolios, even though the amount of samples is not specified by law.
Another example I can give actually happened to me a few years ago. Back in 2014, our state homeschool laws actually relaxed quite a bit, to the point that we now only have to turn in a letter from an evaluator and nothing else. When I handed in our evaluation letter that first year after it changed, the school district employee asked me for my children’s standardized test scores. I explained to her that now that the law changed, only the evaluator sees the results. She replied that she hadn’t heard that and left it at that.
A month or two later when I got the new homeschool year letter from the school district, it stated that at the end of the year, we were to turn in our evaluation letter and our standardized test scores. I’m guessing that some parents must have either been uninformed or unwilling to say anything, so they turned in their scores anyway, which is why the district was still confident enough to ask for them, despite the fact that it is not required.
So far, they’ve never asked me for the scores again, but I’m willing to bet that if enough homeschoolers comply with the school district’s request, they may bring it up again.
2. Homeschooling advocates have worked diligently to get the most reasonable homeschool laws in your state that they can.
There are so many people who have put their heart and soul into advocating for our right to homeschool, and for our right to do it with reasonable regulations. When we fall into overcompliance, we are, in essence, negating their hard work by brushing off many of the freedoms they’ve won for us.
We should be thanking these people, not subconsciously fighting against their efforts.
3. It gives homeschooling parents more work than necessary.
I love homeschooling, but I’m not going to lie. It can be tough. Homeschooling is a full time job, and it’s not the only one we have. Even if you’re not employed, there’s still child rearing, housekeeping, cooking, laundry, and so many other things to deal with every day.
Why unnecessarily add more to your never-ending to-do list by tacking on a slew of extras to your end-of-the-year homeschool errands that are not required by law?
I know there are evaluators out there who ask for more than what the law requires. Don’t fall for it. Don’t do it.
Aren’t your hands full already?
How to Avoid Overcompliance
1. Know your state’s homeschool laws.
I know this seems pretty obvious, but it’s amazing how many people are completely uninformed about what their state regulations actually require. And don’t rely solely on what other people say. Find out for yourself. Look up your state’s laws on hslda.org.
In addition, most states have a go-to website that also breaks down the laws in layman’s terms. In PA, we have askpauline.com. It is a treasure trove of information.
If you don’t know your state laws, how can you know whether or not your school district is following them?
2. Be firm with your school district.
Do not give them more than the law requires. Ever. And this is why ⇑ (#1) is so important. You have to be your own advocate.
I’m not saying that school districts mislead you on purpose (although the whole issue with the standardized test scores makes me wonder about ours…), but I am saying that it is your responsibility to know the law and comply with it as it is written. Don’t let the school district intimidate you into giving more than you should.
3. Choose your evaluator wisely.
Make sure you find an evaluator who is on the same page with you about how your state homeschool laws are interpreted. If you find that they are asking you for more than what the law says, I really suggest that you move on to someone else.
For example, here in PA, all the evaluator gets is a book log, test scores, some work samples, and documentation that 180 days were completed. I know there are some evaluators who require written summaries of every subject, photocopies of the table of contents from textbooks, letter grades, and detailed journal-type daily logs, among other things.
None of these things are specified in PA homeschool law.
Again, this is why it is so important to know your state laws.
Praise God homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, and it’s fairly easy to follow the laws, even in the harder states. Let’s keep it that way by turning in what we need to and not one thing more!
I would love if anyone could leave helpful websites for their state homeschool laws in case any visitors here need advice for that locality. Let’s help each other out!