For many families, homeschooling is a long-term commitment for many years or even decades. For others, homeschooling is a short-term solution, one of many steps in the parenting journey.
The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers frequently receives questions from parents who are sending their children to school after months or years of homeschooling. If you are contemplating a return to public or private school, we have compiled information which may be helpful.
Public and private schools frequently test or evaluate homeschooled children who are entering or re-entering their school. They have the right to do this to determine grade placement and to decide whether credit should be given for work done in the home school.
Homeschooled children of any age or grade level may be tested when they enter or re-enter school. In our experience, early elementary and high school aged children are most likely to be tested, as are children who have been labeled as Gifted/Talented or Learning Disabled. Some school divisions may routinely test or evaluate all incoming homeschooling children, regardless of age, grade, or ability level. A school division’s decision to test your child should not be seen as a reflection on your parenting or homeschooling abilities.
Parents who provide home instruction to their child are required to provide annual proof of progress, either in the form of testing or evaluation (§22.1-254.1 C). If you homeschool your child for a year, then send him back to school the following year, you are still required to submit annual proof of progress for your homeschool year, even if you know that the school will test him again upon his return to school.
Before enrolling your child in school, you will need to provide proof of immunization. Homeschooled students are subject to the same laws concerning vaccinations as public and private school students (§22.1-271.4). Public and private schools require children entering school to show proof of immunization against various communicable diseases. Religious or medical exemptions may apply in certain cases (§32.1-46).
High School Transfer Credits
School divisions are required by law to make provision for transfer students from home instruction to high school(§22.1-253.13: 4 A). However, each school division makes its own decisions as to how to evaluate coursework completed during the home school years. Some school divisions are far more flexible about accepting certain types of home school transfer credit than others. Check the policy manual for your local school division (available online, through your local library, or through your school board offices) or contact the homeschool coordinator for your school division for more information.
Again, the school division has the right to ask for additional information about the student’s curriculum, or test or evaluate the student when he enters school. School divisions may interview the parent and student, ask to see curriculum materials the student has used, or ask the entering student to take an end-of-year exam or even the SOL exam for that subject before granting transfer credit.
Parents of home instructed students in Virginia are not required by law to keep any records of their homeschool year other than the annual notice of intent and testing/evaluation paperwork (§22.1-254.1). However, parents of high school age children may wish to create a paper trail of coursework and curriculum to have on hand in case entry into public or private school is necessary. These records also may be useful for college or work applications in the future. You can read more about creating high school transcripts and recordkeeping through various resources on the VaHomeschoolers’ Homeschooling Teens Resource Page.
Note: State regulations on transfer credit procedures for homeschooled and nonpublic students changed in fall 2006. VaHomeschoolers anticipates that the new regulations will resolve some longstanding problems and create some new ones. To learn more about the new regulations and how they may affect your family, read High School Transfer Credit Procedures.
For more information on Virginia homeschooling legal and political issues, please contact VaHomeschoolers Government Affairs.
The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers is a non-profit public charity with 501(c)(3) status; your donation is tax-deductible to the extent provided by law. A financial statement is available from the Virginia Division of Consumer Affairs upon request.