Maine Education Code For Homeschooling
Homeschooling laws can change, so be sure to check the Maine Department of Education website for updates.
Are you ready to start homeschooling in Maine? 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 Maine 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 Maine homeschool requirements to get you started:
Maine Homeschool Law
According to Maine Statute M.R.S. §5001-A, school attendance is required as follows: “Persons 6 years of age or older and under 17 years of age shall attend a public day school during the time it is in regular session. […] A person 5 years of age or older and under 6 years of age who is enrolled in and who has not withdrawn from a public day school is required to attend that school during the time it is in session. A home instruction program is considered an “equivalent instruction alternative” per M.R.S. 20-A §5001-A(3)(A).
In Maine, according to the Maine Department of Education, “parents take full responsibility for the child while providing home instruction—they legally direct the child’s education by choosing the curriculum, facilitating the process and determining academic needs. Home instruction is funded exclusively by the parent.” The parent must complete the requirements of M.R.S. 20-A §5001-A(3)(A)(4).
What do I need to be eligible to be a homeschool parent?
There are no required qualifications for you to homeschool your child.
Do I need to notify the school district of my intent to homeschool my child?
Yes! In accordance with M.R.S. 20-A §5001-A(3)(A)(4), “The student’s parent or guardian shall provide a written notice of intent to provide home instruction simultaneously to the school officials of the administrative unit in which the student resides and to the commissioner within 10 calendar days of the beginning of home instruction. The notice must contain the following information:
- The name, signature and address of the student’s parent or guardian;
- The name and age of the student;
- The date the home instruction program will begin;
- A statement of assurance that indicates the home instruction program will provide at least 175 days annually of instruction and will provide instruction in the following subject areas: English and language arts, math, science, social studies, physical education, health education, library skills, fine arts and, in at least one grade from grade 6 to 12, Maine studies. At one grade level from grade 7 to 12, the student will demonstrate proficiency in the use of computers; and
- A statement of assurance that indicates that the home instruction program will include an annual assessment of the student’s academic progress that includes at least one of the forms of assessment” (described below).
According to the Maine Department of Education, “One submission of a home instruction Notice serves as notification to both the Maine Department of Education and the resident Superintendent, as required by law, and will prompt an acknowledgment to parents who supply a valid email address.” Non-digital submission of the initial and yearly notices can be accomplished through submission of a printable version of the Notice of Intent to Provide Home Instruction to the Department of Education Office in Augusta.
What educational options are available to my homeschooler?
According to the Maine Department of Education, “Public schools are permitted to partially enroll home instruction students into classes or extra-curricular activities that are available at the school, as space and resources allow. In certain situations, students participating in home instruction may access certain public school programs” (see M.R.S. 20-A §5021-5025).
Note that enrolling your child in one of Maine’s two virtual public charter schools—Maine Connections Academy or Maine Virtual Academy—is not considered home instruction.
Maine Homeschool Requirements
Even though Maine does not highly regulate homeschooling, there are some Maine homeschool requirements you must satisfy when you homeschool:
- Begin homeschooling by age 6.
- File the required notice of intent to homeschool (within 10 calendar days of beginning homeschooling and withdrawal from school), as described above.
- Provide at least 175 days annually of instruction. Note that there is no hourly requirement, per day or per year. Each school year begins on July 1 and ends on June 30.
- Teach the following subject areas: “English and language arts, math, science, social studies, physical education, health education, library skills, fine arts and, in at least one grade from grade 6 to 12, Maine studies. At one grade level from grade 7 to 12, the student will demonstrate proficiency in the use of computers.” While “there are no specific curriculum standards for home instruction,” according to the Maine Department of Education, Maine’s content areas and standards are available for you to review when planning your curriculum.
- Include an annual assessment of the student’s academic progress, as required for submission of the annual notice of intent (see below).
- Using the same link for the original Home Instruction Notice, file the required annual notice of intent to continue homeschooling on or before each subsequent year of home instruction to both the school officials and the commissioner by September 1. Enclosed must be a copy of one of the following forms of annual assessment:
- Option 1: “A standardized achievement test administered through the administrative unit in which the student resides or through other arrangements approved by the commissioner. If the test is administered through the administrative unit in which the student resides, that administration must be agreed to by the school officials of the administrative unit prior to submission of the written notice of intent to provide home instruction;”
- Option 2: “A test developed by the school officials of the administrative unit in which the student resides appropriate to the student’s home instruction program, which must be agreed to by the school officials of the administrative unit prior to submission of the written notice of intent to provide home instruction;”
- Option 3: “A review and acceptance of the student’s progress by an identified individual who holds a current Maine teacher’s certificate;”
- Option 4: “A review and acceptance of the student’s progress based on, but not limited to, a presentation of an educational portfolio of the student to a local area homeschooling support group whose membership for this purpose includes a currently certified Maine teacher or administrator;” or
- Option 5: “A review and acceptance of the student’s progress by a local advisory board selected by the superintendent of the administrative unit in which the student resides that includes one administrative unit employee and 2 home instruction tutors. For the purpose of this subdivision, a “home instruction tutor” means the parent, guardian or other person who acts or will act as a primary teacher of the student in the home instruction program. This provision must be agreed to by the school officials of the administrative unit in which the student resides prior to submission of the written notice of intent to provide home instruction.”
- File the Request to Update Home Instruction Record form if your child has graduated, has decided to return to public/private school, or has had a mid-year change of address or other correction.
- Stay current with homeschooling laws and requirements. To help you do this, you can subscribe to email updates from the Maine Department of Education.
Do I need to administer testing to my homeschooler?
Testing is one form of annual assessment that can be submitted with the annual notice, but there are other options: “Annually, toward the end of a school year (a school year for reporting purposes is always July 1 – June 30) an assessment must be administered and submitted by parents by September 1 of the same calendar year. If continuing home instruction, the assessment must be submitted together with the Notice of Intent to Provide Home Instruction, also due by September 1.
An assessment is most commonly comprised of a teacher letter written by a Maine certified teacher that has administered a portfolio review for the parent, and reviews portfolio contents such as the attendance record, lesson plans and sample work, to ascertain whether adequate progress has been made by the student. Another common assessment method is to request that the student participate in SAU spring MEA testing, or for a parent to administer a standardized achievement test such as the California Achievement Test, the Stanford Achievement Test, or the Iowa Achievement Test, and submit a copy of the summary page results of that test instead. Parents can find out more about purchasing and administering such tests on the vendor websites” (Maine Department of Education).
“In the event that the student will not be participating in home instruction in the subsequent year, annual assessment results are still required. However, it would be helpful to include a note along with the assessment results stating that the student will no longer be participating in home instruction” (Maine Department of Education).
What records do I need to keep when I homeschool my child?
Regardless of which option you choose for annual assessments, we recommend you do some personal 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 Maine homeschool requirements through your local school district.
Other Maine Homeschool Policies
Once you make sure that you are following Maine homeschool law and meeting Maine 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 Maine Department of Education, “A student receiving home instruction may participate in public school activities as outlined in Title 20-A, Section 5021.” In addition to participation in regular classes, these activities may include special education services, co-curricular activities, and extracurricular activities and may involve use of school facilities and equipment and use of school textbooks and library books, providing certain criteria are met (see link above for details).
What if I want to re-enroll my child in public school after homeschooling?
“Parents who opt for home instruction may request re-enrollment for their children in the public school setting at any time. […] The remote instructional method of enrollment may be offered in cases where other instructional methods are not available because of space or resource issues. Placement of students who enroll after the start of the school year should be based on capacity and based on the same accessibility and timelines for those who opted for remote instruction” (Maine Department of Education).
“For students in home instruction who are returning to public or private school in the subsequent school year, an assessment is also due. However, it will not be submitted via the portal or together with the Notice of Intent to Provide Home Instruction, which is designed for new or continuing home instruction students. In this case, the final assessment should be clearly marked “Returning to Public School in 2021” and submitted to the DOE. It may also be submitted via the Request to Update Home Instruction Record” (Maine Department of Education).
What are my child’s postsecondary options after homeschooling?
The Maine Department of Education has this to say about diplomas and postsecondary planning: “Since there are no standards of achievement for home instruction in Maine, the state does not issue grades, credits, diplomas, transcripts, letters of course completion or letters of grade level promotion. Parents are advised to contact postsecondary institutions, the military recruiter or potential employer to inquire about what will be required for acceptance, admission and employment.”
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 Maine homeschool law and Maine 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 Maine Homeschool Groups by county.