Homeschooling laws can change, so be sure to check the DC State Board of Education and DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education websites for updates.
Are you ready to start homeschooling in Washington DC? 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 Washington DC 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 Washington DC homeschool requirements to get you started:
Washington DC Homeschool Law
According to the Code of the District of Columbia § 38–202, “Every parent, guardian, or other person, who resides permanently or temporarily in the District during any school year and who has custody or control of a minor who has reached the age of 5 years or will become 5 years of age on or before September 30th of the current school year shall place the minor in regular attendance in an educational institution during the period of each year when the public schools of the District are in session. This obligation of the parent, guardian, or other person having custody extends until the minor reaches the age of 18 years.”
“In the District of Columbia, parents and legal guardians may elect to homeschool their children. The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) provides information, resources and monitoring to families that choose to homeschool. Homeschooling is a private, parent/legal guardian-directed education program for children who are subject to the compulsory education laws in their state” (OSSE).
What do I need to be eligible to be a homeschool parent?
According to the OSSE, “To administer a homeschooling program in the District of Columbia, parents/legal guardians must have a high school diploma or its equivalent, or they may petition OSSE for a waiver by providing evidence that they can provide the student with a thorough and regular education. Parents/legal guardians may not provide home instruction to the students of other parents […].”
Do I need to notify the school district of my intent to homeschool my child?
Yes! “To homeschool, parents/legal guardians must complete a Notification of Intent to Homeschool at least 15 business days prior to the first date of home instruction. Additionally, for any year the parent/legal guardian chooses to continue a homeschooling program, they must complete a Notification of Homeschool Continuation by Aug. 15. Parents/legal guardians may choose to discontinue a homeschooling program at any time and, to do so, must complete a Notification to Discontinue Homeschooling at least 15 business days prior to discontinuation” (OSSE).
“When transitioning a student from public schooling to homeschooling, parents/legal guardians must notify their student’s school of their intention to withdraw the student. OSSE provides parents/legal guardians with a verification letter after approving their Notification of Intent to Homeschool. This letter should be given to the school to begin the official withdrawal process. If the parent/legal guardian is unable to locate a copy of their verification letter, they may request a copy at [email protected] A student may not be registered to homeschool while concurrently attending a public or public charter school and OSSE notifies parents that, until the student has been officially withdrawn, their child will remain registered in the school, accrue unexcused absences, and are subject to the school’s truancy reporting requirements” (OSSE).
What educational options are available to my homeschooler?
When homeschooling in the District of Columbia, parents “are not required to use a specific curriculum, and may include the use of an online curriculum, administered by a third party provider” (OSSE).
Washington DC Homeschool Requirements
Even though Washington DC does not highly regulate homeschooling, there are some Washington DC homeschool requirements you must satisfy when you homeschool:
- Begin homeschooling by age 5.
- File the required Notification of Intent to Homeschool at least 15 days prior to the start of homeschooling or the Notification of Homeschool Continuation by August 15 of each year.
- “Provide thorough and regular instruction of sufficient duration and, at a minimum, include language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, art, music, health, and physical education” (OSSE).
- “Maintain a portfolio of the student’s education materials, which includes evidence of the student’s current work in a range of subjects (e.g., writing, completed work in mathematics, and assessments). This portfolio must be maintained for at least one year and be available to OSSE for review, upon request” (OSSE).
- File a Notification to Discontinue Homeschooling at least 15 days before ending a homeschooling program.
- Stay current with homeschooling laws and requirements.
Do I need to administer testing to my homeschooler?
Administration of standardized testing for homeschool students in the District of Columbia is not required. However, “homeschooled students are eligible to participate in regularly scheduled statewide assessments administered throughout DC’s public schools. Homeschooled students may participate in these assessments free of charge and assessment results are available to families to provide information on student progress. To register a student for participation in statewide assessments, including obtaining information on annual testing schedules, please contact your neighborhood District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) school” (OSSE).
What records do I need to keep when I homeschool my child?
In the District of Columbia, you are required, as a homeschooler, to “maintain a portfolio of homeschooling materials for each child which includes evidence of the child’s current work, such as examples of the child’s writings, worksheets, workbooks, creative materials, assessments, or any other materials that demonstrate that the child is engaged in thorough, regular educational activities in a range of subjects” (5205.1). “The portfolio should be maintained for at least one year […]” (5205.2).
“At any time, OSSE may request to review the portfolio of educational materials for each student in your homeschooling program. These requests are made by OSSE in writing at least 30 days prior to the date of review. Portfolio reviews may be conducted online or in-person at a mutually agreeable location (e.g., OSSE’s offices or your local library). OSSE will provide you with written feedback on portfolio materials shared during your review, including areas where additional support is needed. When needed, OSSE will also provide you with a corrective action plan to help improve the outcomes of your program. Corrective action plans are designed to provide specific action steps that you, as the program administrator, can take to enhance outcomes in your homeschooling program. OSSE staff is also available to provide technical assistance to navigate the corrective action plan” (OSSE).
See Things to Consider for Homeschool Portfolio Review in order to make sure you are prepared with the required materials and the District of Columbia Homeschool Regulations to find out more about the portfolio review and appeal process.
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 Board of Education or other legal entities or to prepare for re-entry into public school or postsecondary 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 Washington DC homeschool requirements through your local school district.
Other Washington DC Homeschool Policies
Once you make sure that you are following Washington DC homeschool law and meeting Washington DC homeschool requirements, here are some other things you need to know:
Can my homeschooled child participate in extracurricular activities or services offered by the public school?
“Homeschooled students may petition the DC State Athletic Association to participate in sporting activities. For more information about this process please visit the District of Columbia State Athletic Association” (OSSE). Homeschool students are also eligible for free transportation benefits through the Kids Ride Free Program, and families may benefit from extended borrowing and librarian support through the DC Educator’s Library Card Program.
On the other hand, “students who receive specialized instruction and/or related services while enrolled in public school are no longer eligible to receive those services once the student has been withdrawn from public school” (OSSE).
What if I want to re-enroll my child in public school after homeschooling?
For any number of reasons, you may decide to re-enroll your child in public school. “Parents/legal guardians may choose to discontinue a homeschooling program at any time by submitting a Notification to Discontinuation Homeschooling to [email protected] at least 15 business days prior to discontinuation. Once the discontinuation notification has been processed, OSSE will provide the parent/legal guardian with a discontinuation letter” (OSSE).
“Upon application of a child to enroll in a District of Columbia public school from a homeschooling program, placement of the child and any credits to be awarded toward high school graduation shall be determined by evaluation. The evaluation may include administration of standardized tests, other examinations, and interviews with the child” (5210.1).
What are my child’s postsecondary options after homeschooling?
When helping your child to plan for life after homeschooling, you may want to contact colleges and universities, branches of the military, and/or other postsecondary organizations to determine admissions requirements.
See the Home Schooling in the District of Columbia page on the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education’s website for even more information on homeschooling in Washington DC.
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 Washington DC homeschool law and Washington DC 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 Washington DC Homeschool Groups.