Virginia State Requirements in Homeschooling

In order to be allowed to teach one’s children at home, the teaching parent must meet at least one of the following criteria:

   1. Possess a valid high school diploma (or a higher degree, such as can be obtained through a university) which must be submitted to the district’s superintendent. A GED does not fulfill this requirement.
   2. Hold a valid teacher’s certificate as approved by the state.
   3. Provide a distance or correspondence curriculum approved by the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
   4. Provide evidence that they as the teaching parent are capable of handling the child’s education in a way that meets the Virginia Standards of Learning objectives.

The teaching parent must annually inform the district of their intent to instruct the child(ren) at home. The child(ren) in question must have all state-mandated vaccinations required of students in public education with the exception of those under the protection of religious exemption (i.e. the tenets of that family’s faith prohibits them from attending school). Part-time enrollment, allowed but extremely rare, allows for home-instructed students to take some classes (often higher level math and science or electives like foreign language that parents don’t feel confident teaching) within the context of a public school. A homeschooled student may or may not be eligible to play sports for the school in their area, depending on the school.

Other options that are not governed by the above are (1) home instruction by a certified tutor with a valid Virginia Board of Education teaching license and (2) religious exemption. A provision unique to Virginia, the latter is due to a family’s irreconcilable religious difference with a public education, often relating back to topics of science and social studies which are in direct opposition to the held beliefs of that family. If sufficient evidence is given that a child’s family has religious backing that attending school is abhorrent to their faith and the proper forms are filled out, none of the above is required to instruct a child at home.

At the end of each year must provide the district with written documentation that the child(ren) has(have) made academic progress. This could be (1) through a letter from an educator holding a masters degree or higher in education who has evaluated the achievement of the child(ren) through the submission of a portfolio or (2) through a report card and/or transcript from an accredited program (i.e. a community college or correspondence program employed as the primary curriculum). If these are not available, the use of some form of “nationally normed standardized achievement test” is required.[17] The scores attained must be at or above the 23rd percentile. Some tests that may be used include “the Stanford Achievement Test, the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS), the California Achievement Tests (CAT), the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS-TAP), Science Research Associates (SRA), or the Woodcock-Johnson Educational Battery.”

Because homeschoolers do not receive a diploma from the state of Virginia, one of the major struggles faced is entering community college or higher education. Those who do correspondence curricula get diplomas from the program, while others get GEDs. Children who receive home instruction are not required to take the SOL examinations, which may contribute to the inability to obtain a diploma accredited by the state. However, this does not stop many homeschooled students in Virginia from going to college and studying a wide variety of subjects. It just means that there is a lot of consideration given to scores on achievement tests like the SATs and the Advanced Placement exams.

Virginia’s home educated students are mostly found in rural areas where the funding is lower for public education and values are more conservative. The parents feel like they can give their children a better education that also reflects their values. Parents who instruct their children at home are likely to have been homeschooled themselves. This would imply that the parent, if they were homeschooled in Virginia, had to go to college or have religious exemption in order to homeschool their own children due to lack of high school diploma.