A new bill, HB 1263, would require parents to report a home-school student’s academic progress to either the state commissioner of education, a resident district superintendent, or a nonpublic school principal.
Unsatisfactory results could result with the child being removed from the home school.
Current homeschooling law
Approximately 5,000 students are educated at home in the Granite State.
Before 2012, homeschooled children were evaluated by the state. Parents of homeschoolers were required to submit their annual year-end assessment results to their "participating agency”—either their local superintendent, a private school principal, or the state Department of Education.
That requirement was eliminated when the Legislature passed HB 1571 in 2012. Since then, the assessment results of homeschooled kids are private. The record of those results, along with a portfolio of the child's work and a reading list, must be maintained by the parent for a minimum of two years, but there is no third-party review of that material.
There is also no procedure in place for the state to intercede and terminate a homeschool program. The Department of Health and Human Services has power to investigate a parent or guardian for "educational neglect," but that process does not involve the Department of Education.
Proposed review process
Under HB 1263, a state or local educational official will review a homeschooled student's performance. If it doesn't meet basic academic standards for the student's age and ability, parents get a warning, with a one year probationary period.
If the child does not demonstrate adequate educational progress at the end of the year, the Department of Education will hold a hearing to determine if the homeschooling can continue.
A need for oversight?
Proponents of the legislation note that most homeschoolers get a good education, but they are concerned that some are schooled by parents who don’t make any effort at all.
The Legislature is also considering a bill that gives parents state aid to send their children to private schools or for home schooling. Some argue that if state funds will be helping to pay for homeschool programs, the state should have better oversight of home-based education, ensuring that those tax dollars are being spent responsibly.
"It looks like the (legislative) committee has given the go-ahead for these education scholarships," said state Rep. Larry Laflamme, D-Berlin, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, "and I think that's going to pass. So we are going to actually have a financial incentive for parents to home-school."
Unnecessary state involvement?
Opponents of the bill, which includes the private nonprofit School Choice for New Hampshire, described the bill as overreach.
"This bill is completely misguided and unnecessary," said Michelle Levell, director of School Choice for New Hampshire. "Home-schoolers already have to perform some year-end evaluation. That has never changed, and there is no evidence of home educational neglect, so I believe it's a solution in search of problem."
What do you think. Do homeschooled students need outside oversight? Share your opinion in the comments below.