Updated: Jul 11, 2020
Homeschoolers in some states may still be required to take national standardized tests this year, even though the requirement has been waived for public school students.
The majority of U.S. students, including homeschoolers, are required to take a national standardized test or evaluation to demonstrate adequate academic proficiency. After schools shut down nationwide due to COVID-19, these assessments were waived for public schoolers.
On March 20 President Donald Trump announced, “The Department of Education will not enforce standardized testing requirements” for the 2019-2020 school year. Instead, states could apply for a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education. By April 1, all 50 states and the District of Columbia had received an “initial approval of testing waiver.”
However, some states said the waiver doesn’t apply to homeschoolers, so they are still responsible for showing proof of academic progression. Many are angry and have decried this as unfair, even discriminatory. Also, for families who have lost jobs during the coronavirus shutdown, it could pose a financial hardship.
The frequency of testing homeschoolers varies from state to state. Many states require tests annually once a pupil turns 5 or 6 years old. In Colorado, however, testing begins in third grade and every other year thereafter. Florida requires assessments for every grade, except when a family homeschools through a private school’s umbrella program or through a private tutor. In Massachusetts, each local public school district gets to determine whether to require an annual standardized test or portfolio evaluations.
Twenty-six states (and the District of Columbia) don’t require any annual homeschool assessments. Those states include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Among the states that do require assessments, New York waived the requirement for public schools but not for homeschools. Ohio and Pennsylvania canceled assessments for homeschoolers. Tennessee did as well for families using the independent homeschool option. Some states headed off the problem early. Virginia homeschoolers are waiting for the governor’s signature and the state secretary of education’s approval to make a waiver official. West Virginia has extended the deadline for submitting standardized tests to Dec. 31, 2020, but not for other types of assessments.
Additionally, many families have been concerned about their children fulfilling the required number of school days this year. Maine, Missouri, and Tennessee have ruled that students don’t have to complete the full number of days or make up any lost days.
If you’re not sure whether your state has waived homeschool assessments, look for updates on the Homeschool Legal Defense Association website at https://hslda.org. Also check with homeschool groups in your state.