Compulsory attendance is required for children ages 5 through 18.
Parents providing home instruction are in compliance with the compulsory attendance law if they meet all requirements of the Code of Virginia governing home instruction. Va. Code §22.1-254.
Instruction in the home of a child or children by the parent, guardian, or other person having control or charge of such child or children shall not be classified or defined as a private, denominational, or parochial school. Va. Code §22.1-254.
Parents may also teach their own children under the "tutor" provision or the "religious exemption" provision of the compulsory attendance law. A tutor must have a valid Virginia teaching license in any area. Va. Code §§22.1-254.A, 22.1-254.B.1.
A parent who elects to home instruct must
1) notify the school division superintendent no later than August 15 of the intent to do so for the coming school year;
2) provide a list of subjects to be studied for the coming year; and 3) provide evidence of having met one of the criteria to permit home instruction. Va. Code §22.1-254.1.
Parents who move into the school division or begin home instruction after the school year has begun must notify the school division superintendent of their intent to provide home instruction within a reasonable amount of time. After doing so, the parents have 30 days to present the required information to the school division office. Va. Code §22.1-254.1.B.
Parents, guardians, or other persons in charge of a child being home instructed or exempted from school attendance must ensure that the state immunization requirements required of a child enrolled in and attending school are being met. Va. Code §§22.1-254, 22.1-254.1, 22.1-271.4, 32.1-46.
Parents are permitted to provide home instruction in lieu of school attendance if they meet any one of the following four conditions. The teaching parent
1) holds a high school diploma or higher credential certificate (a high school equivalency examination approved by the board of education [formerly known as a GED] will not satisfy this requirement);
2) meets the qualifications for a teacher prescribed by the board of education;
3) enrolls the child or children in a correspondence course or distance learning program; or 4) provides evidence that he or she is able to provide an adequate education for the child (parents' instructional plan includes content of "reasonable scope and sequence"). Va. Code §22.1-254.1.
Annually by August 1, the parent is required to submit to the local superintendent evidence of the child's home instruction accomplishments or academic achievement. The parent may either present evidence that the child has attained a composite score in or above the fourth stanine on any nationally normed standardized achievement test or provide an evaluation or assessment that, in the judgment of the division superintendent, indicates that the child is achieving an adequate level of education growth and progress.
The latter option includes but is not limited to "(a) an evaluation letter from a person licensed to teach in any state, or a person with a master's degree or higher in an academic discipline, having knowledge of the child's academic progress, stating that the child is achieving an adequate level of educational growth and progress; or (b) a report card or transcript from a community college or college, college distance learning program, or home-education correspondence school." Va. Code § 22.1-254.1.C.
The local school board is required to notify families of homeschooled students about Advanced Placement (AP) and Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude (PSAT) tests as well as the availability of financial assistance for low-income and needy students who may be interested in taking these exams. Va. Code §22.1-254.1.F.
Those homeschooled students 16 years or older who have completed their homeschool instruction may participate in the state's program of testing for general educational development (GED) and earn a high school equivalency certificate or a diploma. Va. Code §22.1-254.2.A.2.
Local school boards may permit part-time enrollment of home-school students. Students may be allowed to enroll in classes in English, mathematics, science, history, social science, foreign language, career and technical education, health education, physical education, or fine arts. Va. Code §22.1-253.13:2.N.
Participation in certain interscholastic activities such as varsity sports is governed by policies of the Virginia High School League (VHSL). Other extracurricular activities are governed by policies of the local school board. Virginia Administrative Code, 8 VAC 20-131-200.
Children who are taught by their parents under the religious exemption provision of the compulsory attendance law are not eligible to enroll in a public school on a part-time basis. Va. Code §§22.1-254.1, 22.1-253.13:2(N).
Virginia Department of Education
P.O. Box 2120
Richmond, VA 23218; or
Virginia Department of Education (street address)
James Monroe Building
101 North 14th St.
Richmond, VA 23219
In Virginia, parents must ensure that a child attends school in compliance with the state compulsory attendance law, as specified in § 22.1-254 of the Code of Virginia, when the child has reached his 5th birthday on or before September 30 of any school year and has not passed his 18th birthday.
Nothing in this section shall prohibit a pupil and his parents from obtaining an excuse from school attendance by reason of bona fide religious training or belief pursuant to subdivision B 1 of § 22.1-254
Home instruction (also referred to as home schooling) is one alternative to school attendance. Parents may home school “when the requirements of § 22.1-254.1 of the Code have been satisfied.”
Any parent who elects to provide home instruction in lieu of school attendance shall annually notify their local school division by August 15 of their intention to so instruct the child. § 22.1-254.1
Parents may use the Sample Virginia Notice of Intent to Provide Home Instruction (Word) to meet the notice requirement.
Parents who move into the school district or begin home instruction after the school year has begun must notify the school division as soon as practicable and comply with the provisions of the law within 30 days of such notice.
All required documentation must be submitted to the local school division: Virginia School Division Directory.
The Code of Virginia requires the parent providing home instruction to submit evidence to their local school division that he or she meets one of the following options:
Option I: The parent holds a high school diploma or a higher credential.
Option II: The parent meets the qualifications of a teacher as prescribed by the Virginia Board of Education.
Option III: The parent provides the child with a program of study or curriculum which may be delivered through a correspondence course or distance learning program or in any other manner.
Option IV: The parent provides evidence that the parent is able to provide an adequate education for the child.
Provide a description of the curriculum, limited to a list of subjects to be studied during the coming year.§ 22.1-254.1.B
Parents may use the Standards of Learning (SOL) objectives as a basis for their programs of study under any of the options in § 22.1-254.1 , if they choose to do so.
Information about the SOL objectives is available on the Virginia VDOE SOL webpage.
Section 22.1-254 of the Code of Virginia allows parents to have their children taught by a tutor or a teacher who meets the teacher licensure qualifications prescribed by the Board of Education when that individual has been approved as a tutor by the school division superintendent.
To meet the qualifications prescribed by the Board of Education, the tutor must have a valid Virginia teaching license in any area and may be a parent who meets the tutor qualifications.
The teaching parent provides the child with a program of study or curriculum which may be delivered through a correspondence course or distance learning program or in any other manner.
If the child is enrolled in a correspondence course or distance learning program, the parent must submit evidence of such enrollment and a list of the subjects to be studied for the coming year to the school division; however, no judgment of the materials is required of the school division superintendent.
The parent who elects to provide home instruction shall submit to their local school division, by August 1 following the school year in which the child has received home instruction, evidence of the child’s academic progress with either:
1. Evidence that the child has attained a composite score in or above the fourth stanine on any nationally normed standardized achievement test; or an equivalent score on the ACT, SAT, or PSAT test; or
2. An evaluation or assessment which the division superintendent determines to indicate that the child is achieving an adequate level of educational growth and progress, including but not limited to:
a. An evaluation letter from a person licensed to teach in any state, or a person with a master's degree or higher in an academic discipline, having knowledge of the child's academic progress, stating that the child is achieving an adequate level of educational growth and progress; or
b. A report card or transcript from a community college or college, college distance learning program, or home-education correspondence school.
For additional information regarding the evidence of progress requirement, please contact your local school division: Virginia School Division Directory.
School boards shall make Advanced Placement (AP), Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), and PreACT examinations available to students receiving home instruction. School boards shall notify such students and their parents of such registration deadline and the availability of financial assistance to low-income and needy students to take such examinations.
Section 22.1-271.4 of the Code of Virginia requires that parents of students being taught at home or those excused from attendance under the provisions of § 22.1-254 or § 22.1-254.1 of the Code comply with the immunization requirements of § 32.1-46 of the Code in the same manner and to the same extent as if the child were enrolled in and attending school.
School superintendents are not required to collect this information with the Notice of Intent to Provide Home Instruction but may do so at their discretion.
Parents are required to provide the information upon request unless the parents submit an affidavit stating that immunization conflicts with their religious beliefs or the parents provide a doctor’s statement indicating that one or more of the required immunizations is detrimental to the child’s health. This statement must include the specific nature of the medical condition or the circumstances that contraindicate immunization.
Section 22.1-253.13:2.N of the Code of Virginia allows school boards to permit part-time attendance of children receiving home instruction.
Home instructed part-time students may be allowed to enroll in classes in English, mathematics, science, history, social science, foreign language, career and technical education, health education, physical education, or fine arts.
Parents are advised to check with local school divisions regarding this issue.
Typically, Virginia school boards do not award diplomas to students who are not enrolled in public schools under their supervision. Therefore, students taught at home may not receive diplomas unless those students are enrolled in a correspondence program or other program that awards a diploma or other exiting credential.
For driver education correspondence courses, VDOE approves these programs as specified in § D22.1-205, Code of Virginia. (See Virginia DMV's webpage for information about driver education correspondence programs for home schooled students.)
In addition to Virginia’s public schools in 132 divisions, there are a number of private schools that provide educational opportunities, including private day schools and private residential schools for children.
Source: Virginia Department of Education
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