Here’s how to follow the Tennessee Homeschooling Laws to legally homeschool your child in TN.
Compulsory attendance – Between 6 (on or before August 15) and 17 years of age.
Educational requirements for parents. (See below.)
Standardized testing required in some grades. (See below.)
Attendance records must be kept.
Four (4) hours a day of instruction for 180 days as district or Church school requires.
*This is not intended to be legal advice and is distributed for information purposes only. Check for updates at your public library or on the Department of Education website. Here is the 2016 Tennessee Code Annotated from Lexisnexis. Look under Title 49, Part 6, Part 30, then 3050 “Home schools.” I can’t deep link into this.
Requirements for Homeschools in Tennessee
Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. §49-6-3050, the Tennessee Homeschooling Laws, parents in Tennessee may conduct a home school for their own children.
*** Current through Chapter 1087 of the 2016 Session.
The commission may make editorial changes to this version and may relocate or redesignate text.
Those changes will appear on Lexis.com and Lexis Advance after the publication of the certified volumes and supplements. Pursuant to TCA sections 1-1-110, 1-1-111, and 1-2-114, the Tennessee Code Commission certifies the final, official version of the Tennesse Code. Until the annual issuance of the certified volumes and supplements, references to the updates made by the most recent legislative session should be to the Public Chapter and not TCA. ***
SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 49-6-3050(a), is amended by deleting the subsection in its entirety and substituting instead the following:
Parents also have the option of having their children attend a church-related school. This is not home schooling, because the church-related school is not being conducted by parents or legal guardians for their own children. This school is being operated by a denominational, parochial, or other bona fide church organization as required by Section 49-50-801. Under this option there is no need to comply with any of the home school provisions of Section 49-6-3050.
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This option allows parents to enroll their child in a State of Tennessee School Board designated Category III school and comply with the compulsory attendance laws. Home education using a Category III school is categorized as private schooling by the state and is not included in the state’s definition of “homeschooling.” Catagory III schools include many familiar accredited distance learning programs. Tennessee has been slow to adopt on-line school and heretofore parents wishing to utilize an on-line or correspondence school outside of the state had to also register with either their LEA or a Tennessee church-related school in order to comply with the compulsory attendance laws. That is now, no longer the case saving lots of parents that extra step and/or registration fee.
Tennessee Home School Statute (Effective July 1, 2016)
Tennessee Code Annotated Section 49-6-3050. Home Schools.
(1) A “home school” is a school conducted or directed by a parent or parents or a legal guardian or guardians for their own children. Public school facilities may be used by home school participants with the approval of the principal of the school, but this permissive authority shall not be construed to confer any right upon the participants to use public school facilities. If approved, use shall be in accordance with rules established by the local board of education.
(A) Home schools that teach kindergarten through grade twelve (K-12), where the parents are associated with and where students are enrolled with a church-related school, as defined by § 49-50-801, that are supervised by the church-related school’s director and that administer or offer standardized achievement tests, are exempt from this section.
(B) Parent-teachers who register with an organization, as defined by § 49-50-801, for conducting a home school for students in grades nine through twelve (9-12) shall possess at least a high school diploma or general education development certificate (GED).
(3) A parent-teacher may enroll the parent’s home school student or students in a church-related school, as defined in § 49-50-801, and participate as a teacher in that church-related school. Such parent-teacher shall be subject to the requirements established by the church-related school for home school teachers and exempt from the rest of this section.
(b) Except for home schools operated under subdivision (a)(2) or (a)(3), a parent-teacher conducting a home school shall comply with the following requirements:
(1) Provide annual notice to the local director of schools prior to each school year of the parent-teacher’s intent to conduct a home school and, for purpose of reporting only, submission to the director of schools of the names, number, ages and grade levels of the children to be home schooled, the location of the school, the proposed curriculum to be offered, the proposed hours of instruction and the qualifications of the parent-teacher relative to subdivision (b)(4). Information contained in the reports may be used only for record keeping and other purposes for which similar information on public school students may be used in accordance with guidelines, rules and regulations of the state board of education. The director of schools or the director’s designee shall ensure that attendance teachers are informed of parents’ rights to conduct a home school pursuant to § 49-6-3001(c)(4), subsection (a) and § 49-50-801 upon employment of the attendance teachers and at the beginning of each school year;
(2) Maintenance of attendance records, subject to inspection by the local director of schools, and submission of these records to the director of schools at the end of each school year;
(3) Instruction for at least four (4) hours per day for the same number of instructional days as are required by state law for public schools;
(4) Possession of a high school diploma or GED by the parent-teacher;
(5) (A) Administration by the commissioner of education, or the commissioner’s designee, or by a professional testing service that is approved by the LEA, to home school students of the same state board approved secure standardized tests required of public school students in grades five (5), seven (7) and nine (9); however, the test for grade nine (9) shall not be the high school proficiency test required by § 49-6-6001;
(B) (i) Tests administered by the commissioner or the commissioner’s designee shall be at the same time tests are administered to public school students, and shall be administered in the public school that the home school student would otherwise be attending, or at whatever location students at such school are tested. Tests administered by the commissioner, or the commissioner’s designee, shall be administered without charge. The parent-teacher may be present when the home school student is tested in grade five (5). Both parent-teacher and home school student shall be under the supervision of the test administrator;
(ii) Tests administered by a professional testing service shall be administered within thirty (30) days of the date of the statewide test. Tests administered by a professional testing service shall be administered at the expense of the parent-teacher;
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(iii) All test results from either administration by the commissioner or the commissioner’s designee, or by a professional testing service, shall be provided to the parent-teacher, the director of schools and the state board of education;
(6) (A) Consultation between the director of schools and the parent-teacher if the home school student falls three (3) to six (6) months behind the home school student’s appropriate grade level, based on the test required in subdivision (b)(5);
(B) If a home school student falls six (6) to nine (9) months behind the home school student’s appropriate grade level in the home school student’s reading, language arts, mathematics or science test scores or such of these areas, regardless of the term used on the test, as are actually tested for the student’s grade level, based on the tests required in subdivision (b)(5), the parent shall consult with a teacher licensed by the state board of education and having a certificate or endorsement in the grade level or course or subject matter in which consultation is sought. The parent and teacher shall design a remedial course to help the child obtain the child’s appropriate grade level. The parent shall report the remedial course for the child to the local director of schools;
(C) (i) If a home school student falls more than one (1) year behind the home school student’s appropriate grade level in the home school student’s comprehensive test score for two (2) consecutive tests based on the tests required in subdivision (b)(5) and if the child is not learning disabled in the opinion of a teacher licensed to teach at the child’s grade level, the local director of schools may require the parents to enroll the child in a public, private or church-related school, in accordance with this part, and the parents shall have all rights provided by law to respond to this requirement;
(ii) If a test indicates that a home school student is one (1) year or more behind the home school student’s appropriate grade level, the same test shall be administered to the child not more than one (1) year later, notwithstanding the required testing schedule in subdivision (b)(5)(A);
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(7) Proof shall be submitted to the local director of schools that the home school student has been vaccinated as required by § 49-6-5001 and has received any other health services or examinations as may be required by law generally for children in this state; and
(8) Submission by the home school student entering public schools to the evaluation test provided for in § 49-50-801, if the local system requires the test, or the tests required by the state board of education for transfer students.
(c) In the event of the illness of a parent-teacher, or at the discretion of the parent-teacher, a tutor, having the same qualifications that would be required of a parent-teacher teaching the grade level or course, may be employed by the parent-teacher.
(d) The department of education shall provide annually to home schools with which they have contact information about meningococcal disease and the effectiveness of vaccination against meningococcal disease at the beginning of every school year. This information shall include the causes, symptoms and the means by which meningococcal disease is spread and the places where parents and guardians may obtain additional information and vaccinations for their children. This information may be provided electronically or on the department’s web site. Nothing in this subsection (d) shall be construed to require the department of education to provide or purchase vaccine against meningococcal disease.
(e) (1) If any of the public schools established under the jurisdiction of an LEA are members of an organization or an association that regulates interscholastic athletic competition, and if such organization or association establishes or maintains eligibility requirements for home school students desiring to participate in interscholastic athletics at a member school, then the LEA shall permit participation in interscholastic athletics at those schools by home school students who satisfy the eligibility requirements established by the organization or association.
(2) This subsection (e) does not guarantee that a home school student trying out for an interscholastic athletics team will make the team or supplant the authority of coaches or other school officials in deciding who makes the team. This subsection (e) is intended to guarantee only that the home school student shall not be prohibited from trying out for an interscholastic athletics team, if the student is eligible under the rules of the organization or association, solely by reason of the student’s status as a home school student.
(3) This subsection (e) shall not be construed to limit or supplant the authority of the organization or association to determine eligibility and to establish, modify and enforce its rules and eligibility requirements, including those applicable to home school students.
(f) (1) As used in this subsection (f):
(A) “AP” means the advanced placement program offered by the College Board; and
(B) “PSAT/NMSQT” means the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test administered by the College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation.
(2) Each public school that administers the AP and PSAT/NMSQT examinations shall provide notice of the dates on which the school will administer the examinations on the school’s web site. The notice shall include:
(A) The availability of AP and PSAT/NMSQT examinations; and
(B) The availability of outside financial assistance to low-income and needy students to take the AP and PSAT/NMSQT examinations.
(3) Home school students shall be permitted to take the AP and PSAT/NMSQT examinations at any public school offering such examinations.
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Tennessee Church-Related Schools Statute
Tennessee Code Annotated Section 49-50-801.
(a) As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires, “church-related school” means a school operated by denominational, parochial or other bona fide church organizations, which are required to meet the standards of accreditation or membership of the Tennessee Association of Christian Schools, the Association of Christian Schools International, the Tennessee Association of Independent Schools, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the Tennessee Association of Non-Public Academic Schools, or a school affiliated with Accelerated Christian Education, Inc.
(b) The state board of education and local boards of education are prohibited from regulating the selection of faculty or textbooks or the establishment of a curriculum in church-related schools.
(c) The state board of education and local boards of education shall not prohibit or impede the transfer of a student from a church-related school to a public school of this state. Local boards may, however, place students transferring from a church-related school to a public school in a grade level based upon the student’s performance on a test administered by the board for that purpose. In local school systems where the local board of education requires tests for students transferring to that system from another public school system, the same test shall be administered to students transferring to such system from church-related schools. Church-related schools shall be conducted for the same length of term as public schools.
(d) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as prohibiting church-related schools from voluntarily seeking approval by the state board of education, nor prohibiting the state board of education from extending such approval when it is voluntarily sought.
Tennessee’s Compulsory Attendance Statute
Tennessee Code Annotated Section 49-6-3001.
(a) The public schools shall be free to all persons above the age of six (6) years, or who will become six (6) years of age on or before August 15 (effective 2014-15), residing within the state.
(1) Any child residing within the state who is six (6) years of age or who will become six (6) years of age on or before August 15 (effective 2014-15) may enter at the beginning of the term the public school designated by the local board of education having appropriate jurisdiction; provided, that such child enters within thirty (30) days after the opening day of the term.
(2) Any child who will not become six (6) years of age until after December 31 shall not enter school during that school year; provided, that school systems having semiannual promotions may admit at the beginning of any semester children who will become six (6) years of age within sixty (60) days following the opening of the semester.
(3) Where a pupil meets the requirements of the state board of education for transfer and/or admission purposes, as determined by the commissioner of education, such pupil may be admitted by a local board of education, notwithstanding any provision or act to the contrary.
(1) Every parent, guardian or other person residing within this state having control or charge of any child or children between the ages of seven (7) and seventeen (17) years, both inclusive, shall cause such child or children to attend public or non-public school, and in the event of failure to do so, shall be subject to the penalties hereinafter provided.
(2) The provisions of (c)(1) do not apply to any child who:
(A) Has received a diploma or other certificate of graduation issued to the person from a secondary high school of this state or any other state;
(B) Is enrolled and is making satisfactory progress in a course leading to a general educational development certificate (GED) from a state-approved institution or organization, or has obtained such certificate. Any institution or organization which enrolls a child who is under eighteen (18) years of age shall provide a report to the local board of education at least three (3) times each year relative to the progress of all such persons under eighteen (18) years of age. If the local board of education determines any child under eighteen (18) years of age is not making satisfactory progress, then such child shall be subject to the provisions of subdivision (c)(1); or
(C) A student enrolled in a home school who has reached seventeen (17) years of age.
(3) For the purposes of this part, public school and non-public school are defined as follows:
(A) “Non-public school” means a church related school, home school or private school;
(i) “Church related school” means a school as defined in Section 49-50-801;
(ii) “Home school” means a school as defined in Section 49-6-3050; and
(iii) “Private school” means a school accredited by, or a member of, an organization or association approved by the state board of education as an organization accrediting or setting academic requirements in schools, or which has been approved by the state, or is in the future approved by the commissioner of education in accordance with rules promulgated by the state board of education; and
(B) “Public school” means any school operated by a local education agency or by the state with public funds.
(4) A parent or guardian with any good and substantial reason as determined by such parent or other person having legal custody of a child and agreed to by the respective local board of education, may withdraw such parent or other person’s child from a public school; provided that within thirty (30) days the parent or person having legal custody of the child places the child in a public school designated by such local board of education, or in a non-public school, as herein defined.