Homeschooling laws can change, so be sure to check the Tennessee Department of Education website for updates.
Are you ready to start homeschooling in Tennessee? 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 Tennessee 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 Tennessee homeschool requirements to get you started:
Tennessee Homeschool Law
According to Tennessee Code Annotated § 49-6-3001, “Every parent, guardian or other legal custodian residing within this state having control or charge of any child or children between six (6) years of age and seventeen (17) years of age, both inclusive, shall cause the child or children to attend public or nonpublic school.” This requirement does not apply to any child who “is six (6) years of age or younger and whose parent or guardian has filed a notice of intent to conduct a home school with the director of the LEA or with the director of a church-related school; or a student enrolled in a home school who has reached seventeen (17) years of age.”
Per the Tennessee Department of Education, “Parents in Tennessee may choose to homeschool their own children in grades K – 12. The Tennessee Home School law (Tennessee Code Annotated § 49-6-3050) states: “A home school is a school conducted or directed by a parent or parents or a legal guardian or guardians for their own children.”
Parents have three options for homeschooling in Tennessee:
- Independent Home School: Parents homeschool their own children (see details below).
- Church-Related Umbrella School: “By authority of the same statute, parents may also home school their own children by registering with a church-related “umbrella” school defined by Tennessee Code Annotated § 49-50-801. Parents who choose this option will be required to provide evidence to the local school district that their child is enrolled in a church-related school. An Intent to Home School form is not required for students who enrolled in a church-related school. The church-related school will determine record keeping and test requirements for students enrolled in an umbrella program” (Tennessee Department of Education).
- Accredited Online School: “Parents may also enroll their child in an accredited online school. Parents choosing this educational option must be sure to determine that the school has legitimate accreditation status and will be required to provide evidence to the local school district that their child is enrolled in an accredited online school” (Tennessee Department of Education).
Parents choosing to homeschool should begin by contacting their local school district’s Home School Coordinator (list is provided on the Home Schooling in Tennessee page on the Tennessee Department of Education website).
What do I need to be eligible to be a homeschool parent?
A parent homeschooling a child in Tennessee must hold a high school diploma or GED. Note that “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” (TCA § 49-6-3050).
Do I need to notify the school district of my intent to homeschool my child?
Yes! Independent home school families must “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 the purpose of reporting only, submission to the director of schools of the names, number, ages and grade levels of the children to be homeschooled, the location of the school, the proposed curriculum to be offered, the proposed hours of instruction and the qualifications of the parent-teacher” (Tennessee Department of Education).
“The cutoff date for registering to homeschool has been removed from the home school law. A parent should be allowed to withdraw their child from the public school and register for home school at any point in the school year” (Tennessee Department of Education).
What educational options are available to my homeschooler?
Independently homeschooled students may be able to take classes at a public school under certain conditions. “In the case of special needs courses, such as laboratory sciences, vocational education, special education, for example, premises approved by the local director of schools may be used” (TCA § 49-6-3050).
Tennessee Homeschool Requirements
Even though Tennessee does not highly regulate homeschooling, there are some Tennessee homeschool requirements you must satisfy when you homeschool (TCA § 49-6-3050):
- Begin homeschooling by age 6.
- Fill annual notice of Intent to Home School to the local Director of Schools.
- Submit attendance records to the Director of Schools at the end of each school year.
- Provide instruction for at least four hours per day for 180 days per year.
- Teach the suggested subjects of reading/language arts, math, science, and social studies. This is recommended because your child will be tested on the grade level state curriculum in grades 5, 7, and 9. See the Tennessee Academic Standards and Tennessee Graduation Requirements as guides when determining curriculum.
- Arrange for standardized testing of independent homeschool students in grades 5, 7, and 9.
- Stay current with homeschooling laws and requirements.
Do I need to administer testing to my homeschooler?
According to the Tennessee Department of Education, independent homeschool students in grades 5, 7, and 9 must be tested using the “same state board-approved secure standardized tests required of public school students.” Standardized testing takes place “in the local public school which the student would otherwise attend at no charge OR by a professional testing service at parent’s expense” (Tennessee Department of Education). A test administered by a professional testing service must be administered within 30 days of the statewide assessments.
Grade 9 students should not be given the high school proficiency test. “If a homeschool student in grade 9 is taking a course for which there is an end of course test, that student should be required to take that end of course exam. That will mean some 9th grade students, depending on the courses they are taking, will have less tests to take that year than others” (Tennessee Department of Education).
If homeschool students score “1 year or more below grade level for 2 years in a row, superintendent MAY require parents to enroll child in public or private school (unless child is learning disabled)” (Tennessee Department of Education).
What records do I need to keep when I homeschool my child?
According to the Tennessee Department of Education, independent homeschool families must “maintain attendance records and submit these records to the Director of Schools at the end of each school year; and submit proof of vaccination and receipt of any health services or examinations as required by law.”
In addition to the required recordkeeping, we also 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 postsecondary pathways. This includes the following:
- Attendance, required
- Immunization records, required
- 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 Tennessee homeschool requirements through your local school district.
Other Tennessee Homeschool Policies
Once you make sure that you are following Tennessee homeschool law and meeting Tennessee homeschool requirements, here are some other things you need to know:
Can my homeschooled child participate in extracurricular activities and services offered by the public school?
Your homeschooled child may participate in extracurricular activities under certain conditions. “As written in Tennessee Code Annotated § 49-6-3050, 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” (Tennessee Department of Education).
“Independently registered home school students have the right to try out for sports/athletic teams at their local school district. TCA § 49-6-3050 states: […] If any of the public schools established under the jurisdiction of an LEA (Local Education Agency) 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” (Tennessee Department of Education).
Special education services may also be provided: “Students who are home schooled are entitled to the same services as children who are placed in private schools by their parents. This is provided via a “services plan” and is generally some type of related service, such as speech therapy, as determined by the school district where the student is registered to home school. The parent should contact the local school district for complete information” (Tennessee Department of Education).
What if I want to re-enroll my child in public school after homeschooling?
If you decide to re-enroll your independent homeschool student in a public school or an approved private school, your child will be tested for grade placement. If your child is in grades 9-12, your child will be tested in each subject for credit toward graduation.
“Since homeschooling in kindergarten is in compliance with the compulsory school attendance law, it is deemed an approved kindergarten program. A student who has been home schooled during the kindergarten year may enter the first grade in a public school if they demonstrate acceptable performance on the district’s placement test” (Tennessee Department of Education).
What are my child’s postsecondary options after homeschooling?
Independently homeschooled children who graduate in Tennessee do not receive a high school diploma or certificate of attendance from the state or local school district. Parents are responsible for creating graduation documents.
Note that “home school students shall be permitted to take the AP and PSAT/NMSQT examinations at any public school offering such examinations” (TCA § 49-6-3050).
As you plan for postsecondary pursuits, you may want to contact colleges and universities, organizations, and/or branches of the military to find out about admissions requirements.
See the Home Schooling in Tennessee page on the Tennessee Department of Education’s website for even more information on homeschooling in Tennessee.
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 Tennessee homeschool law and Tennessee 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 Tennessee Homeschool Groups by county.