The Home Instruction Statute §22.1-254.1 requires parents to provide “evidence of progress” at the end of the school year. Parents may either submit:
- (i) A composite score in or above the fourth stanine on any nationally normed standardized achievement test
- (ii) An evaluation or assessment which the division superintendent determines to indicate that the child is achieving an adequate level of educational growth and progress, including but not limited to: (a) an evaluation letter from a person licensed to teach in any state, or a person with a master’s degree or higher in an academic discipline, having knowledge of the child’s academic progress, stating that the child is achieving an adequate level of educational growth and progress; or (b) a report card or transcript from a community college or college, college distance learning program, or home-education correspondence school.
Who Needs to Test/Evaluate?
Under the Home Instruction Statute, evaluation or testing must be provided for all children who are between the ages of 6 and 18 as of September 30th of the current school year (regardless of grade level).
The following do not have to provide evidence of progress:
- Children under the age of 6 as of September 30th. For more information regarding kindergarten options, see Kindergarten Options.
- Children older than 18 as of September 30th.
- Children 16 years or older as of September 30th who have graduated and/or taken the GED. For more information about homeschoolers and the GED, see Homeschoolers and the General Educational Development Exam (GED).
- Children whose parents are complying with the Compulsory Attendance Code by using the Approved Tutor Provision. For more information, see All About the Approved Tutor Provision.
- Children who are exempt from the Compulsory Attendance Code due to a Religious Exemption. For more information, see Religious Exemption from Compulsory Schooling.
Evidence of progress must be submitted to the superintendent by August 1st following the school year in which the child has received instruction and is required even if homeschooling begins near the end of the school year.
Evidence of Progress Options
There are two options for providing evidence of progress:
- Option (i): Provide evidence that the child has scored in or above the 4th stanine on any nationally normed standardized test. For more information on this option, see Evidence of Progress Option (i): Standardized Testing.
- Option (ii): Provide an evaluation or assessment that the superintendent determines to indicate the child has achieved an adequate level of growth and progress. For more information on this option, see Evidence of Progress Option (ii): Evaluation or Assessment.
Failure to Provide Adequate Evidence of Progress
If evidence of adequate progress is not submitted, the home instruction program of the child may be placed on probation for one year. The parents must file with the superintendent proof of their ability to teach their child and a remediation plan for acceptance by the superintendent. If this plan is not accepted or the required evidence of progress is not provided for by August 1 following the probationary year, home instruction for that child may be ended.
Unless you submit the results of a nationally normed standardized test (Option (i)), the local superintendent is required to make a determination as to whether the evidence of progress submitted demonstrates adequate growth and progress. Most school divisions are fair and reasonable. Rarely, they are not. If the superintendent determines that adequate evidence of progress has not been provided, the superintendent may (at his or her discretion) place the homeschool on a probationary status. However, if a portfolio is rejected as not showing satisfactory progress, a parent might offer to submit a standardized test as an alternative, or offer to have a credentialed person evaluate the child and his or her work. It is up to the superintendent’s discretion as to whether to agree to an alternative.
If probationary status is not acceptable to the parent, or if alternative assessments are not practical or acceptable to the parent or the school division, the parent may appeal a superintendent’s decision. This entails simply notifying the superintendent (within 30 days of his negative decision) that you want to appeal the decision to an independent hearing officer. The superintendent then must make arrangements for the hearing. Independent hearing officers are attorneys and they are selected from a list maintained by the state Supreme Court. You do not need an attorney to make such an appeal.