Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Questions on Home Schooling in Illinois, Part 1
1. What authorization is required to make a home school legal in Illinois?
The Illinois School Code (105 ILCS 5/26-1 et seq.) states that children between the ages of 7 and 17 must attend public school; however, an exception is made for "…..any child attending a private or parochial school where children are taught the branches of education taught to children of corresponding age and grade in the public schools, and where the instruction of the child in the branches of education is in the English language." Based on this law, the Illinois Supreme Court held in 1950 that the phrase "private school" included home-schooling if the teacher (either the parent her or himself or a private tutor) were competent, the required subjects were taught, and the student received an education at least equivalent to public schooling. (People v. Levisen, 404 Ill. 574 (1950)).
2. What subjects must be covered in my home school?
Biological and physical sciences;
Fine arts; and
Physical development and health.
3. How much time must the student spend on home-schooling?
Illinois law does not set any minimum number of hours per day, or days of instruction per year, for students in private schools. However, the Illinois courts have ruled that home-schooling must provide an education that is equivalent with the standards set for public schools. (e.g. Scoma v. Chicago Board of Education, 391 F.Supp. 452 (N.D. Ill. 1974)).
4. Am I required to register my home school?
No. In Illinois, registration of home-schooled students is not required. Parents may choose to notify their regional superintendent of education and/or the State Board of their intention to home-school. Here is a link to the one-page form:
A directory of Regional Offices of Education may be found at:
5. Are there any testing requirements for students enrolled in an Illinois home school?
There is no requirement that students in a home school be tested. If parents choose to administer tests to their children to assess their progress, they are not required to submit the results to any school official.
6. May a home-schooled student take assessment tests through his/her district of residence?
The public school may choose to allow a home-schooled student to participate in some assessment tests. However, state assessments such as the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) are not considered appropriate tests for students in nonpublic schools, since the content of such assessments was designed specifically for the Illinois public school curriculum.
7. My child is currently attending a public school. Is there a formal procedure I must follow to withdraw him from school to begin home-schooling?
It is highly recommended that you give the public school a dated letter (keeping copies for your records) that states you will be withdrawing your student to place him/her in a private school. Such a letter indicates your intent to continue your student’s education and will make it less likely that the school reports your student to county officials as truant after a prolonged absence. Home-schooling organizations provide samples of this type of letter.
8. Does the State Board of Education give advice to parents on effective home-schooling?
No. The State Board of Education’s jurisdiction generally does not extend to private or parochial schools and for most purposes a home school is regarded as a private school. We give basic (legal) information to parents and others interested in home-schooling, including references to private education in Illinois law or in court cases. In addition, we have provided links to some state and national websites of possible interest (see below).
9. Where can I find information on how to begin a home-schooling program?
Here are some of the resources available to parents and others interested in home-schooling:
• Your public library should have information on home-school groups in your area as well as state-wide or national home schooling associations. Some or all of these contacts may share information on home-schooling textbooks, study guides, homework materials, and curricula. Your library would also have information on home-schooling magazines and books.
• The Internet has thousands of links to home-schooling information ranging from suppliers of home-schooling materials to home-schooling "ezines"and support groups to research studies and legal analyses. Parents interested in purchasing a home-schooling curriculum or related materials through the Internet are advised to first research the products, and their claims, as they would do before making other types of on-line purchases.
• Your Regional Office of Education may have information on local home-schooling organizations as well as links to state and/or national organizations. For a directory of Regional Offices see: http://www.isbe.net/regionaloffices/Default.htm
• You may have friends, neighbors and/or relatives who are home-schooling their children and would be willing to share their experiences with you.
10. Are any home school programs accredited by the State Board of Education?
The State Board does not accredit any nonpublic schools. There is a voluntary process for private schools located in Illinois that wish to pursue registration and/or recognition through this agency; however, the law excludes home-based schools from this process (105 ILCS 5/2-3.25o(e)).