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Should parents of homeschooled children be required to submit academic performance evaluations to a school official (either the commissioner of education, a local superintendent, or a private school principal)?

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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.

Comments

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Jim

The parents who are dedicating the time and effort to home school their kids do not need a third party oversight which will only bloat the State run education system further. I had educated my daughters at home for two years after we returned from Europe. My son is educating his four children at home as they expect to become missionaries in the future and want to make sure the have the process working for them. Keep the State, who is failing the children they are supposed to be teaching, out of the parent led home school.

Carol

No, homeschoolers should not be required to submit their year-end assessments to government and school officials. HB 1571 in 2012 ended that requirement. There is no reason to move backward. All children neglect, whether educational or otherwise is already handled by the Department of Health and Human Services. There is no need to add additional burdens to homeschool families.

Karen

Educational neglect is real. While many if not most homeschooling parents provide a decent education for their children, some are simply not capable of doing so. It's not easy and not everyone can do it. With the total lack of oversight that is enshrined in current state law, there is no safety net for children whose well-intentioned parents are unable to provide an adequate education (not to mention the children whose parents take advantage of the homeschooling laws to hide abuse). Statistics on how prevalent a problem this is don't exist in part because the homeschool laws are so opaque. I have been homeschooling my children in New Hampshire for several years, and I have seen instances of educational neglect. The child abusers are better hidden, because they don't bother joining co-ops or homeschooling groups. It is true that the public school system has problems of its own that need to be addressed, but an imperfect safety net is better than none at all.

Kara

If you have seen cases of neglect and failed to report them to the proper channels, like DCYF, then why would you be in favor of this legislation? Do you really believe that an evaluation will suss out neglect or abuse? If you don't have the responsibility to take care of the "instances of educational neglect", then why would the state be any better at it? Since you witnessed it first hand and did nothing to stop it?

Doris

No. HB 1263, proposing to increase regulation of home schoolers, is inequitable. Students in private or public schools are never individually held to any particular standard. Private or public schooled children, who fail to demonstrate "basic academic standards for the student's age and ability," are never placed on probation or removed from their respective schools. Why propose legislation that arbitrarily targets home schooled children?

In your article you claim that "Before 2012, homeschooled children were evaluated by the state." That statement is not true. Before 2012, homeschooled children could choose to be evaluated by private school teachers.

In your article you claim that "The Legislature is also considering a bill that gives parents state aid to send their children to private schools or for home schooling." That statement is not true. SB 193 was amended in the house education committee to remove any consideration of state aid to parents who home school their children.

Deb

There is NO legislature putting children who are not progressing in public or private schools, this is yet another angle to limit or stunt growth of homeschool families.
Trying to push an agenda to limit or stop homeschooling altogether. Get out of our families, leave our kids alone, stop trying to usurp control over our children. They are OUR children not the states or department of education's responsibility.

Jack

Make them pass equivalency test of some sort. Reagan. Trust but verify.

Kara

HB 1263 would completely undo everything that we fought for in 2012 regarding homeschooling families being innocent until proven guilty. There are programs(ie DCYF) already in place to worry about abuse or neglect. Since these are anonymous reports, DCYF cannot even find the person who reported neglect or abuse, so if you see it, report it, if you truly think the child is being abused or neglected.

These regulations that "decide" whether a child is progressing or not do not stand against the public school standards of moving children who are "failing" along. And then you have to consider whose job is it to police those who have done nothing wrong. Added expense to the state, and thus taxpayers, for no reason at all. If you think a child is not be adequately taught, then feel free to contact the proper authority about it, but do not assume or imply that every home schooling family is guilty of this. That is what this introduced legislation does, and why it was struck in 2012, because it does not assume that home school families are innocent until proven guilty, it assumes we are guilty until proven innocent, and that is not how we work here in the free country of the United States.

Antonet C

HB 1263 is an attempt to find a solution for a problem that does not exist. It would be gross over reach by state and/or local government . Home schooling is NOT where you will find the deficit in education! Parents who abdicate their responsibilities in their children's education are the ones who send them to public indoctrination centers a.k.a. public schools which, since the implementation of COMMUNIST (falsely called Common) CORE curriculum. Say NO HB 1263 AND STOP INTERFERING WITH EDUCATIONAL EXCELLENCE!

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