Home Education Frequently Asked Questions
Definition and Responsibilities
- What is home education?
Section 1002.01, F.S., defines home education as the sequentially progressive instruction of a student directed by his or her parent or guardian, in order to satisfy the requirement for compulsory education as defined in Section 1002.20, F.S. Current law does not prescribe a curriculum or course of study for home education programs.
- Who can teach in a home education setting?
Any parent who complies with the reporting, record keeping, and student evaluation requirements specified in statutory law may conduct a home education program. The parent is not required to be a certified teacher.
- What are the responsibilities of parents who establish a home education program?
As required by Section 1002.41, F.S., to establish a home education program and maintain compliance with the statute, a parent must:
- Send a written notice of intent to the school district superintendent.
- Maintain a portfolio of records, consisting of a log of educational activities, writings, worksheets, and creative materials used or developed by the student
- Make the portfolio available for inspection by the superintendent upon a 15-day notice. (The legislation does not require the superintendent to inspect all portfolios.)
- Provide an annual educational evaluation for the student’s educational process to the school district superintendent.
- Preserve each student’s portfolio for two years.
- Submit a letter of termination upon completion of the home education program or change of residence.
- How long has home education been a means of meeting the regular attendance requirement in Florida?
The law creating Florida’s home education program became effective June 17, 1985.
- What is the distinction between a home education program and an umbrella/satellite school?
A home education program refers to a parent who has registered with the local school district home education office and has agreed to comply with the home education requirements as listed in Florida Statutes. An umbrella/satellite school refers to a private school offering programs or services to home schooling families.
- Must a district’s packet of information regarding home education include a form letter for the registration and termination of home education program?
No. School districts are not required to provide forms, although some districts do so to facilitate processing of information.
- Does the school district have the authority to exceed the Florida Statutes with local policies?
The school district must abide by the home education guidelines as listed in Florida Statutes. A district may not enact policies that would apply additional guidelines to home education programs or that would make it more difficult for students to participate in home education.
- If a home education parent employs a tutor to instruct his or her student, who is responsible for the records?
If the parent is participating in a home education program, as defined in the law, the parent is responsible for all records.
- What happens to the records of a student who withdraws from a public school and enters into home education?
Cumulative records are retained by the school district, pursuant to local board policies.
- How do districts report transcripts to the Department of Education for home education students who take courses at a public school?
Districts may report this information using the number 0998. This will place home education transcripts in a separate and unique category, identifiable from all other students.
- Do parents have access to any state-appropriated funds for home education?
No. There are no funds appropriated to a home education student.
- Are home education students eligible for Bright Futures Scholarships?
Yes. Home education students may qualify for a scholarship through the Bright Futures Scholarship Program if they are registered with their districts as home education students during the 11th and 12th grades. The Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program provides a Home Education Program Packet, which conveys eligibility criteria specific to home education students, including required college admission test scores, community service documentation, district registration confirmation, and dates for financial aid application deadlines. The Home Education Program packet is available from http://www.floridastudentfinancialaid.org/ssfad/bf/homepac.htm or by telephone, toll-free at 1-888-827-2004.
- How may a parent contact other parents who have chosen home education for their children?
There are home education support groups in every district. In addition to district support groups, there are also statewide groups to support home educators. Additional resources may be found by visiting the School Choice Website at http://www.floridaschoolchoice.org/information/home_education/.
- May a parent implement a home education program for a 5-year old, even though regular attendance begins at age 6?
Districts are not required to accept a letter of intent for a 5-year old; however, some districts have chosen to accept these letters. In that case, the home education parent should maintain a portfolio, and the student will be evaluated in the same manner as a student who is subject to regular attendance.
- How can a parent provide “sequentially progressive instruction?”
There are many methods a parent may use to direct a home education program. As reflected in Florida Statute, a parent may:
- Instruct the student;
- Enroll the student in courses part-time in a public or private school;
- Enroll the student online in the Florida Virtual School;
- Enroll the student in correspondence courses;
- Hire a tutor, or
- Choose any other means that provides “sequentially progressive instruction” directed by the parent.
- Are parents required to have a Florida teaching certificate to home educate?
No. A parent is not required to have a valid Florida teaching certificate to home educate a student. Furthermore, the instruction is no longer required to take place in the home nor must the parent be the person to deliver instruction.
- Are home education students bound by the required school hours that apply to public school students?
No. There are no specific hourly attendance requirements for students in a home education program.
- Do home education students have the same opportunity as public and nonpublic school students to enter a college of their choice?
Yes, depending on the student’s qualifications and the admission requirements of the postsecondary institution. In order to understand the specific admission requirements of a postsecondary institution, home educators should directly contact the admissions office of the institution in which they have an interest.
- Do school districts provide instructional materials to home education students?
There is no requirement for districts to provide instructional materials to home education students.
- May home education students enroll at specialized or magnet schools?
Yes. Most districts have established a selection process for any student wishing to attend a magnet school. A home education student would adhere to the same process as a public school student.
- May home education parents dually enroll a home education student at a postsecondary institution?
Yes. Home education students may enroll directly with the postsecondary institution pursuant to Section 1007.271(10)(a), F.S., or use the district’s interinstitutional articulation agreement. Contact the district home education contact for specific information about the local interinstitutional articulation agreement. If the home education student enrolls through the district’s interinstitutional articulation agreement as the basis for dual enrollment, the student is effectively enrolled in the district for the course(s) and the district may earn FTE and must provide instructional materials.
A home education student not using the district’s interinstitutional articulation agreement must provide proof of enrollment in the home education program and be responsible for instructional materials.
- May home education students participate in local district course offerings?
Although there is no requirement to do so, some districts provide opportunities for home education students to enroll in specified courses in district schools. Districts may report FTE funding for home education students enrolled in district courses.
- What type of diploma do home education students receive?
School districts, adult high schools, and community colleges are not authorized to award a regular high school diploma to home education students. However, a home education student may take the General Educational Development (GED) test at an education center and be awarded a Florida GED diploma if the student receives a passing score. The toll free number for information pertaining to the GED is 1-877-352-4331.
- Do students who have been home educated have the option to return to public school?
Yes. Any student who is within the compulsory attendance age has the right to enroll in a public school. Current district policies and Florida State Board of Education Rule 6A-1.09941, govern the grade placement of home education students.
- How does a home education student at the high school level transfer into a public school when the previous course work is not awarded in the traditional manner?
State Board Rule 6A-1.09941 establishes a uniform transfer of credit at the high school level as follows: If the student does not possess an official transcript or is a home education student, credits shall be validated through performance during the first grading period.
- May a home education student attend summer school?
Home education students may be allowed to attend summer school, if the district offers summer school.
- What does the annual educational evaluation include?
A student in a home education setting must be evaluated once a year to demonstrate educational progress at a level equivalent to his or her abilities. The parent/guardian selects the method of evaluation from those provided in Florida Statute, then files a copy of the evaluation annually in the superintendent’s office. The evaluation must consist of one of the following:
- A Florida certified teacher chosen by the parent/guardian may evaluate the child’s progress based on the review of the portfolio and discussion with the student;
- The student may take any nationally normed student achievement test administered by a certified teacher;
- The student may take a state student assessment test used by the school district and administered by a certified teacher, at a location and under testing conditions approved by the school district;
- The student may be evaluated by a psychologist holding a valid, active license pursuant to the provisions of Section 490.003 (7) or (8), F.S.; or
- The student may be evaluated with any other valid measurement tool as mutually agreed upon by the school superintendent of the district in which the student resides and the student’s parent/guardian.
- What requirements must be met by a teacher conducting an annual evaluation of a home education student?
As defined in Section 1002.41, F.S., a teacher who evaluates a home education student must hold current certification in academic subjects at the elementary or secondary level in the state of Florida. Of the five evaluation options described in the law, three involve a certified teacher.
- How does a parent locate an evaluator for the annual evaluation?
Parents may contact the local district home education office or a local parent group to obtain the names of available evaluators.
- Does the home education student have the right to take standardized tests at the local school district?
School districts are required to provide state assessment tests, if the parent chooses this option as a form of evaluation. School districts may offer standardized tests to home education students.
- May a district set a deadline for the annual evaluation?
“Annually” is defined in Florida Statute as one year from the date of the letter of intent. However some home educators may choose to follow the requested deadline in order to follow the traditional school calendar.
- What is the appropriate recourse when a district does not receive an annual evaluation on a home education student?
Section 1002.41, F.S., requires the parent to provide for an annual evaluation of the home education student. Failure to do so places the home education program in non-compliance and permits the superintendent, after notice to the parent, to terminate the program. Non-compliance with this requirement should trigger the district’s policy regarding non-compliance with compulsory school attendance.
- What is the definition of a portfolio?
Section 1002.41, F.S., defines a portfolio as “A log of educational activities which is made contemporaneously with the instruction and which designates by title any reading materials used and samples of any writings, worksheets, workbooks, or creative materials used or developed by the student.”
- How long must the portfolio be preserved?
The portfolio shall be preserved by the parent/guardian for two years and shall be made available for inspection by the superintendent, or the superintendent’s agent, upon a 15-day written notice. The superintendent, or the superintendent’s agent, is not required to inspect all portfolios.
- May a school district require that a home education student take the FCAT or other statewide assessment in order to return to public school?
- May a home education student use more than one of the methods listed in Section 1002.41, F.S., to satisfy the annual evaluation component?
No. While a parent may utilize several methods to assess student progress in the regular course of providing a home education program, for the purposes of Section 1002.41, F.S., only one method may be selected and submitted to the school district.
- May a home education student take the FCAT or other statewide assessments for reasons other than fulfilling the evaluation requirement of Section 1002.41, F.S.?
The only statutory authority which permits home education students to take the FCAT or other statewide assessments is the provision for use as the official annual evaluation.
- Can the parent of a student who has been found to exhibit a pattern of nonattendance enroll that student in a home education program?
Yes. However, at the time that a student who has been found to exhibit a pattern of nonattendance is enrolled in a home education program, the home education contact will:
- Provide the parent or guardian with a copy of the home education law, Section 1002.41, F.S., and the accountability requirements of the truancy law, Section 1003.26, F.S.; and
- Refer the parent or guardian to a home education review committee composed of members as specified in Section 1003.26, F.S.
- How will the home education contact know which students have been found to exhibit a pattern of nonattendance?
When a school’s student study team determines that a student has been found to exhibit a pattern of nonattendance, the law requires that the principal of the school notify the superintendent of schools and the district home education contact. The home education contact is expected to maintain this information to verify whether a student who is being enrolled in a home education program has been found to exhibit a pattern of nonattendance.
- What are the accountability requirements for home education, once a student has been found to exhibit a pattern of nonattendance?
The parent must submit a portfolio, as defined by Section 1002.41, F.S., to be reviewed by a home education review committee every 30 days until the committee determines that the home education program is in compliance with Section 1003.26, F.S. The first portfolio review must occur within the first 30 calendar days of the establishment of the home education program.
- Who serves on the home education review committee?
According to Section 1003.26, F.S., the home education review committee is to be composed of the school district contact for home education and at least two home educators selected by the parent from a list of eligible home education parents maintained by the district. Eligible home education parents are those who have conducted a home education program for at least three years and who have indicated a willingness to serve on a home education review committee.
- How does the school district home education contact develop a list of eligible home educators?
The home education contact may wish to send a letter to all parents who have conducted a home education program for at least three years, inviting them to submit their names as possible candidates for a home education review committee. The list will be made up of those parents who indicate a willingness to serve on such a committee.
- What will happen if the home education review committee determines that the home education program is in compliance with the statute?
Once the committee determines that the home education program is in compliance, the parent will no longer be required to submit a portfolio to the home education review committee. The parent will be required to comply with the requirements of a home education program pursuant to Section 1002.41, F.S., as is any parent involved in a home education program.
- What will happen if the parent of a student who has been found to exhibit a pattern of nonattendance, and who has been enrolled in home education, fails to provide a portfolio for review by the committee?
The committee shall notify the superintendent of schools who shall then terminate the home education program and require the parent to enroll the student in an attendance option provided under Section 1002.41, F.S., within three days. Failure of a parent or guardian to enroll a student in an attendance option after termination of a home education program shall constitute non-compliance with the compulsory attendance requirement and may result in criminal prosecution of the parent under Section1003.27(2), F.S.
- How long should the home education contact keep a student’s name on the list of students who have been found to exhibit a pattern of nonattendance?
If a student was placed on the list more than 90 days prior to the parent enrolling the student in a home education program, the home education contact should check with the school to determine if the student is still considered to be at-risk for nonattendance.
- How can I get more information about truancy and driver’s licenses for home education students?
You may contact the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles at (850) 922-9000.
- May a home education student be automatically dropped at the age of 16?
No. The family must notify the school district if the student wishes to terminate the home education program. Section 1003.21, F.S. requires that students terminating enrollment at age 16 must be notified that their earning power is likely to be reduced. It is in the best interest of the student for the district to maintain home education records until the completion of high school.
- Which member of district personnel is responsible for processing waivers for employment of home education students?
School districts are not required to process waivers for employment of home education students except to confirm, with a release for information from the parent, that the student is enrolled in home education.
Interscholastic Extracurricular Activities
- How is the term “extracurricular activity” defined by the law?
An “extracurricular activity” is defined as “any school-authorized or education-related activity occurring during or outside the regular instructional day, Section 1006.15, F.S.” This definition was added to the Act to make it clear that any activity outside of classroom activities and instruction should be considered extracurricular.
For example, some school districts had excluded home education students from musical clubs and ensembles by stating that the performance groups were part of curricular instruction and outside of the realm of extracurricular activities. The 1997 amendment clarifies that a district may not define “extracurricular” in such a narrow way. District policies that apply a more narrow interpretation of “extracurricular,” and exclude students on this basis, are contrary to the law and legislative intent. Activities outside of classroom instruction are generally defined as extracurricular and open to home education students.
- May home education students participate in “interscholastic extracurricular activities” offered at public schools?
Yes. To participate in “inter-scholastic extracurricular activities”, Section 1006.15 F.S., requires that home education students be given the same opportunity as public school students. The law prohibits any requirements that would make participation less accessible for home education students and creates a broad definition of “interscholastic extracurricular activities” that covers any activity occurring during or outside the regular school day. However, the law does allow for home education students to develop an agreement to participate in “interscholastic extracurricular activities” at a non-public school.
- Is there a difference between an “extracurricular activity” and an “interscholastic-extracurricular activity?”
No. The terms are used interchangeably.
- What grade levels are allowed to participate in interscholastic extracurricular activities?
Section 1006.15, F.S., primarily addresses students in grades 9-12 but does not prohibit students in lower grades from participation. The by-laws of the governing organization regulate which students, and under what circumstances those students, may participate in the interscholastic extracurricular activity.
For example, Section 1006.20, F.S., designated the Florida High School Activities Association as the governing organization for athletics. For the purpose of athletics, the Association defines “high school” as grades 6-12. If athletics are offered in a grade 6-8 school that is governed by this Association, the athletic program must be made available upon request to home education students at that grade level. Section 1006.15, F.S., states that public schools may not belong to any governing organization that discriminates against an eligible home education student.
- What if the extracurricular activity requires a class to be taken in order to participate?
If a class is required in order to take part in the extracurricular activity, such as band class during the day in order to take part in the school’s marching band, the district must afford the home education student the opportunity to enroll for that class, pursuant to Section 1006.15(5), F.S.
- Do districts receive any funding when home education students participate in extra-curricular activities?
No, unless the home education student enrolls in a class required to participate in the extracurricular activity. The district may report that student for FTE purposes. Additionally, home education students may be required to pay any of the fees or costs that are required of all participating students.
- May a district develop policies that restrict the access of home education students to extracurricular activities?
No. Districts may establish policies for participation that apply to all students, such as evidence of required immunizations, medical clearance for sports activities, auditions and class participation. However, the district may not enact policies that would apply different standards to home education students or make it more difficult for them to participate.
- Must home education students who participate in extracurricular activities offered at public schools comply with school entry immunization requirements?
Yes. If the home education student is participating in extracurricular activities under Section 1006.15, F.S., the student must meet the same immunization requirements as students attending any non-home education program.
- How are grade point average requirements applied to extracurricular activities?
In order to participate in extracurricular activities, a home education student must have the required 2.0 or better grade point average in academic courses. This applies to both public and home education students. The law allows for a method of evaluation of the student’s progress to be agreed upon by the parent and the principal. The evaluation may be based on a teacher’s review of the student’s work, grades earned through correspondence or at a postsecondary school, standardized test scores, or other method as allowed by Section 1002.41, F.S.
- How does the district determine at which school the home education student may participate in extracurricular activities?
The home education student must meet the same residency requirements as other students to participate in extracurricular activities.
Exceptional Student Education
- If a home education parent suspects that their child has a disability, is the school district required to evaluate the child?
Yes. The school district is obligated to “identify, locate, and evaluate” all children with disabilities, including those attending private schools and home education programs, in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This evaluation must be at no cost to the parent.
- In this circumstance, how would a home education parent access evaluation services?
The parent should contact the exceptional student education administrator in the school district in which they reside.
- What would be required of the home education parent?
The school district would require that the parent sign a written consent for the evaluation. The district is also required to review existing information on the child before conducting an evaluation. The parent may be asked to provide information from the child’s portfolio and may also be asked to complete checklists and/or informal observations.
- After the evaluation is conducted, what will occur?
The parents will be invited to attend a meeting in which school district staff will review the outcome of their child’s evaluation. Following that review, a determination will be made regarding whether or not the child is considered an eligible child with a disability as defined by Florida State Board of Education Rules.
- What is the school district’s obligation, if the child is eligible?
If the home education parent chooses to enroll the child in public school, the school district must ensure that a free and appropriate education is made available to the child.
- What if the parent does not elect this option?
The district will typically propose to provide some level of service to the child through the use of a services plan. For instance, if it is determined that the child needs speech/language therapy services, the school district could allow the child to come to a public school near the child’s home for these services during the week.
- Does a home education student have to receive permission from the school district to participate in dual enrollment on the community college campus?
No. College and state universities often request proof of registration from the home education student. That information can be obtained from the local school district home education coordinator.
- What is the school district required to do for home education students who have an articulation agreement with the community college or a state university?
The school district must provide the community college or state university with proof that a student is enrolled in a home education program pursuant to s. 1002.41 F.S.
- May home education students take dual enrollment courses at district high schools?
Yes. Districts that have a part-time enrollment policy may enroll home education students in the school district and receive FTE for the student. This is a local decision that is articulated in the district pupil progression plan.
- Does a community college have to provide instructional materials /textbooks for home education students?
No. The law specifically states that a community college is not prohibited from providing dual enrollment materials/books to home education students if the college is providing materials/books to other public or private students in dual enrollment pursuant to s. 1007.271(17), F.S.
- Is the school district responsible for the transportation of a home education student to a dual enrollment course?
- Is a home education student limited to the same course options as a public school student?
Home school students are limited to the dual enrollment courses and programs offered by institutions for that term.
- Should community colleges report course grades to the student’s school district?
No. The school district has no record-keeping responsibility for home educated students.
- Is there a minimum age or grade level required of a home education student for participation in dual enrollment?
The minimum age and the maximum years allowed for dual enrollment should be outlined in the local articulation agreement.
- Is there a minimum GPA for home education students to participate in dual enrollment?
- Are home education students and postsecondary institutions required to develop an articulation agreement?
Yes. Postsecondary institutions must provide an articulation agreement for home education students to clarify responsibilities, identify registration timelines, and coordinate procedures for efficient program implementation.
- Does the District Interinstitutional Articulation Agreement apply to home education students?
No. Home education students are not subject to the provisions set forth by the district agreement.