Here is the fifth installment of A Guide to Homeschool Regulations in the United States. The purpose of this series is to give homeschooling parents and parents who are considering homeschool a reference that covers the very basics of their state’s homeschool laws. As laws are updated and changed frequently, use the links throughout the article to be sure you have the latest information.
This is a series of articles. It is set up as follows:
Part 1: Alabama through California
Part 2: Colorado through Georgia
Part 3: Hawaii through Iowa
Part 4: Kansas through Maryland
Part 5: Massachusetts through Missouri
Part 6: Montana through New Jersey
Part 7: New Mexico through Ohio
Part 8: Oklahoma through South Carolina
Part 9: South Dakota through Vermont
Part 10: Virginia through Wyoming
Massachusetts does not have a specific set of homeschool laws. Instead homeschool are governed by mandatory attendance laws and private school laws. Parents do not have to posses any specific qualifications to educate their children in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts has mandatory attendance laws. All children between the ages of 6 and 16 are required to attend school. Each school district will determine the actual number of days a homeschool student is required to attend school. The exact number of days of instruction will be consistent with the number of days required for traditional public schools.
All homeschooled children must receive instruction in reading, writing, English language arts, geography, math, art, music, history and civics. There are no requirements for mandatory testing, it is left up to the individual school districts to decide if a homeschooled student is required to provide test scores.
Homeschools must receive approval from the local superintendent’s office. If a homeschool is denied approval, the burden of proof falls on the local district to prove the home education environment is not acceptable.
Laws pertaining to homeschooling in Massachusetts:
Massachusetts General Laws ch. 76, § 1 (compulsory attendance and exemptions).
Michigan has a parents’ rights law on the books. According to Michigan Comp. Laws § 380.10, enacted in 1996, “It is the natural, fundamental right of parents and legal guardians to determine and direct the care, teaching, and education of their children.” This statement in addition to the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution makes it legal to homeschool in Michigan.
There are compulsory attendance laws in Michigan. Depending on whether or not the child was either 11 years of age or in the 6th grade before December 1, 2009 the requirements are different. If the child was born before that date or in the 6th grade before that date the mandatory attendance is between the ages of 6 and 16. A child born after December 1, 2009 or who was not yet in the 6th grade by that date must attend school from the ages of 6 to 18. Children falling into the latter category may be exempt from the mandatory attendance law if their parents inform the school that their child will no-longer attend school.
There are two options available for homeschoolers in Michigan. The first is to homeschool under the homeschool law. In this case, the local school district and the state have no authority to regulate hours taught, teaching methods, or attendance. Parents are not required to notify the local school district or state of their intent to homeschool. A parent is not required to have any specific requirements in order to teach their children at home. Reading, math, civics, English language arts, science and history are required subjects.
The second choice is to operate the school as an accredited non-public school. This choice requires anyone teaching the children to hold a Michigan Teaching Certificate. In addition the school must register with the state. An accredited school must provide a curriculum comparable to the public school curriculum.
Michigan does not require a specific number of days or hours of school. Norm-referenced testing is not required.
Laws pertaining to homeschooling in Michigan:
Mich. Comp. Laws § 380.1561(3) (compulsory attendance exemptions)
§ 388.552 (private, denominational and parochial schools)
Michigan Department of Education
Minnesota has mandatory attendance laws. Any child between the ages of 7 and 16 years of age must attend school. Once a child enrolls in a public school in grades kindergarten through 12, they are subject to the mandatory attendance laws even if they are less than 7 years of age. Minnesota does not have specific requirements regarding the number of hours taught or number of days of instruction.
Required subjects for homeschoolers to teach are reading, language arts, math, science, government, art, geography, health and physical education.
There are several items covered under the Minnesota homeschool law. First, parents are responsible for ensuring that their homeschooled children acquire the knowledge and skills essential for them to become good citizens.
Next there are several conditions that must be met in order for homeschooling to be legal. Parents are required to meet at least one of the following six conditions:
1) A parent must hold a valid teaching license for the grades being taught. The license must be issued by the State of Minnesota.
2) A parent must be directly supervised by a licensed teacher.
3) The parent must complete a teacher competency exam.
4) The parent must provide instruction in an accredited school.
5) The parent must hold a baccalaureate degree.
6) Must be the parent of a child who is assessed and has met the minimum score on a national norm-referenced achievement test such as the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, CAT or Terra Nova. The score must be no lower than the 31st percentile.
Parents are required to file a report with the local superintendent of schools no later than October 1 of each year. The report must include the names, date of birth and address of each student in the homeschool. Proof must be furnished to show compliance with items 1 through 6 listed above and provide an instructional calendar.
Laws pertaining to homeschooling in Minnesota:
Minn. Stat. § 120A.22(10) (instructor qualifications)
§ 120A.22(11) (testing requirements)
Minnesota Department of Education
It is mandatory that all children between the ages of 6 and 17 attend school. Homeschools are considered under the non-public school laws.
Parents must complete a “certificate of enrollment” and send it into the school attendance officer at the public school where their children would normally attend. This must be done no later than September 15 of each year.
Mississippi does not require norm-referenced testing and parents do not need any specific qualifications to teach their children.
Laws pertaining to homeschooling in Mississippi are:
Miss. Code. Ann. § 37-13-91 (compulsory attendance)
§ 37-13-91 (3)(c) (compulsory attendance exemptions for homeschool)
Children residing in Missouri who are between the ages of 7 and 17 must attend school. Missouri requires 1,000 hours of instruction per year with at least 600 hours in math, reading, language arts and science.
Parents must keep a log of daily hours and subjects taught. Samples of work must be kept. These items are required, but parents are not required to submit them, only keep them on file as proof of homeschool.
Missouri does not require standardized or norm-referenced testing and there are no qualifications for parents to meet in order to teach their children.
Laws pertaining to Missouri homeschooling are:
Mo. Rev. Stat. § 167.031 (compulsory attendance and exemptions; homeschool definition)
Missouri Department of Education
Home School Legal Defense Association, Summary of Homeschool Laws in the Fifty States
Education Commission of the States, State Policies on Homeschooling by Mary Fulton, October 2009.
The National Center for Education Statistics: December 2008 Issue Brief