Homeschooling laws can change, so be sure to check the Louisiana Department of Education website for updates.
Are you ready to start homeschooling in Louisiana? You may have many questions about topics like what you need to do to begin, what recordkeeping and testing is required, and how you need to interact with your local school district. You will want to start by understanding Louisiana homeschool law. You may feel overwhelmed as you start this process, but there are resources available and other homeschoolers who have already succeeded on this adventure!
Here is some information on Louisiana homeschool requirements to get you started:
Louisiana Homeschool Law
Based on Louisiana Statute R.S. 17: 221. A.1-4, “Every parent, tutor, or other person residing within the state of Louisiana having control or charge of any child from that child’s seventh birthday until his eighteenth birthday shall send such child to a public or private day school, unless the child graduates from high school prior to his eighteenth birthday.”
In order to fulfil this requirement, “Louisiana Families may choose to independently provide an excellent education to their children from their home. Louisiana families typically provide this independent education through a Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved home study program or a nonpublic school (not seeking state approval). […] Parents who enroll their child in a home study program are solely responsible for deciding the curriculum and providing instruction. Louisiana does not provide funding or resources for home study programs” (Louisiana Department of Education).
For purposes of this post, the focus will be on laws and requirements for Board of Elementary and Secondary Education [BESE]-Approved Home Study Programs. The Louisiana Department of Education ensures that “a child who participates in a BESE-Approved Home Study program is considered: a) in attendance at a day school; and b) compliant with state compulsory attendance laws.”
Make sure to research the School Expense Deduction offered by the Louisiana Department of Revenue to see if you qualify to offset some of your home education costs.
What do I need to be eligible to be a homeschool parent?
According to the Louisiana Department of Education, “A parent or tutor may be permitted to provide the instruction; there are no teaching certification requirements.”
Do I need to notify the school district of my intent to homeschool my child?
“To comply with state attendance laws, parents who want to educate their children in a home study program must apply and be approved annually by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. A child enrolled in an approved home study program is considered in attendance at school.
Families may now use a simple, user-friendly online application system to submit a home study application. This new system will allow families to easily complete and submit applications online, as well as receive automatic emails once the Department both receives and approves the application. […] Families without internet access will still be able to submit a paper application. The paper application may be found in the Home Study Guidelines PDF” (Louisiana Department of Education).
The guidelines also state the following: “Parents must submit an initial application to the LDE to receive BESE Approval. Once initially approved, parents must submit a renewal application within 12 months. The approvals are valid for one year from the date of approval for the grade level indicated on the application. If a student transitions to a new grade level before the 12- month period ends, parents should submit a renewal application indicating the student’s current grade level.”
What educational options are available to my homeschooler?
The curriculum used is completely the decision of the homeschool parents. However, according to the Louisiana Department of Education, “parents have the option to use a state-approved textbook from the local school system if extra copies are available. Local school systems may charge a deposit for each book borrowed, with that deposit being refunded when the book(s) is/are returned. Please note: parents are not required to use state-approved textbook along with their selected curriculum.”
Louisiana Homeschool Requirements
Even though Louisiana does not highly regulate homeschooling, there are some Louisiana homeschool requirements you must satisfy when you homeschool:
- Begin homeschooling by age 7.
- Submit initial and renewal home study applications to the Louisiana Department of Education for approval.
- Provide a “sustained curriculum of quality at least equal to that offered by public schools at the same grade level” (Louisiana Department of Education). See the Louisiana Academic Standards for grade level expectations.
- Stay current with homeschooling laws and requirements.
Do I need to administer testing to my homeschooler?
According to the Louisiana Department of Education, “Students in a home study program are not required to take state assessments.” Although not required, a parent may contact the local school board’s testing administrator (in early January) to schedule state testing in English Language Arts, mathematics, science, and social studies, according to the enrolled grade level. There will be fees assessed (which will be refunded if the student enrolls in public school in the semester immediately following testing), and results will be provided to parents after receipt by the public school.
What records do I need to keep when I homeschool my child?
For both the Initial and Renewal application, families are asked to submit the following:
- Student Information
- Family Contact Information
- Immunization Statement
- Birth Certificate Copy (Initial application only)
Families must also provide evidence of a “sustained curriculum of quality at least equal to that offered by public schools at the same grade level” (Renewal applications only) in the form of one of the following:
- Option 1: Curriculum “packet” (including such evidence as list of subjects, books, materials; statement from a 3rd party observer; sampling of student work; report card)
- Option 2: Standardized test scores (showing performance at or above grade level or one grade level of progress per year)
- Option 3: Certified teacher statement (after examination of the home study program)
In addition to the required recordkeeping based on the option you choose, we recommend you do some additional recordkeeping to provide verification of education in the event you would need to show some form of educational proof to the state or other legal entities or to prepare for re-entry into public school or post-secondary pathways. This includes the following:
- Immunization records
- Lists of texts and workbooks used
- Student schoolwork samples and/or portfolios
- Test and evaluation results
- Correspondence with school officials
You may also be able to find more information on Louisiana homeschool requirements through your local school district.
Other Louisiana Homeschool Policies
Once you make sure that you are following Louisiana homeschool law and meeting Louisiana homeschool requirements, here are some other things you need to know:
Can my homeschooled child participate in extracurricular activities offered by the public school?
According to the Louisiana Department of Education, “Students in a home study program may participate in interscholastic athletic activities.” The guidelines further state, “A home study student may be allowed to participate in interscholastic athletic activities at a public or at a state-approved nonpublic high school that is also a member of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association. Participation at a public school is based solely on the approval of the school principal. Participation at a non-public school is at the sole discretion of the governing authority of such school. For more information on the Louisiana High School Athletic Association, please visit: http://lhsaa.org/.”
What if I want to re-enroll my child in public school after homeschooling?
Louisiana’s home study guidelines clarify this process: “Parents who choose to enter their children in nonpublic or public schools after having been enrolled in a BESE-Approved Home Study Program are responsible for all educational documentation and/or verification required by the local school system. Students entering a school system must comply with all school or district requirements. The local public school system is required to have a written policy included in its Pupil Progression Plan for the admission or readmission of home study students to the public schools. Contact the nonpublic school or the child welfare and attendance supervisor at the local school board office for the procedures outlined in the Pupil Progression Plan.”
Administrators responsible for the BESE-Approved Home Study Program located at the Louisiana Department of Education will not offer an opinion as to the student’s grade level, achievement level, or appropriate academic placement. In addition, a receiving nonpublic school or local school system must conduct testing or evaluation of the student(s) to determine the student’s proper grade level or Carnegie credits. For students testing in order to enter the public school system, testing fees shall be refunded upon the student’s enrollment in that public school system the semester immediately following the testing.”
What are my child’s postsecondary options after homeschooling?
The Louisiana Department of Education offers this information on diplomas: “Diplomas from BESE-Approved Home Study programs have the same rights and privileges as those awarded to a BESE-Approved Nonpublic School. Parents create and issue the home study program diplomas; they are not awarded by BESE or the LDE. Therefore, a depiction, reproduction, or duplication of state seals or wording which implies from BESE or the LDE is unauthorized. All diplomas from BESE-Approved Home Study programs are recognized by all public secondary educational institutions, state departments, agencies, boards, and commissions and all other state/local government entities.”
According to the Louisiana Department of Education homeschool guidelines, students in BESE-Approved Home Study programs may be eligible for state-sponsored scholarships: “To be eligible for the TOPS Scholarship program, students must be enrolled in a BESE-Approved Home Study program for both 11th and 12th grade. In addition, students must meet TOPS’ ACT requirements. […] Parents who are interested in more information about the TOPS program should contact the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance at 800-259-5626, extension 1012. Or visit their website at www.osfa.la.gov.”
“The GED previously was the test used to qualify for a High School Equivalency Diploma in Louisiana. A High School Equivalency Diploma is now based upon passing the HiSET Test. […] The HISET – http://hiset.ets.org/ is available for students below the age of eighteen and beyond sixteen years of age who seek to exit their home study program” (Louisiana home study guidelines).
See the Home Study and BESE-Approved Home Study Program: Guidelines and Instructions pages on the Louisiana Department of Education’s website for even more information on homeschooling in Louisiana.
Connect With Local Homeschoolers
Remember, too, that you are not alone. You should connect with local homeschoolers from your state, who can help you with Louisiana homeschool law and Louisiana homeschool requirements and offer you all kinds of practical advice and suggestions. They can give you guidance on everything from curriculum to daily schedules to recordkeeping, and they may be able to share information about local resources, support groups, and field trips. Click the image below to find Louisiana Homeschool Groups by county.