Washington State Homeschool Law

Washington State Homeschool Law

The “official” statewide homeschooling group is the Washington Homeschool Organization, or WHO. They have a great website with links to all of the homeschooling laws, broken down for you.

The basics:
There are six parts to the law in Washington.
It looks complicated, but in practice,  to fulfill the requirements, once a year  you have to write a letter to the school and do some testing.
The law applies to ages 8 and up, you need to make sure you qualify to teach your child (and that’s an easy fix if you don’t qualify,) you have to tell the school system that you’re homeschooling, you have to teach certain subjects, and you have to do some testing and keep records (pretty straightforward.)

1: Compulsory Attendance

(Here’s the law)

In Washington, compulsory attendance applies to kids over eight OR whenever they become enrolled in public school. In other words, your seven-year-old homeschooler does NOT have compulsory attendance, and these laws don’t apply to her. At all. But her twin sister who’s been in public school since kindergarten does have attendance laws apply.

If you want to take a child that’s younger than eight out of public school, you do have to officially withdraw.
However, you do not have to file a declaration of intent for children under eight. (See Declaration of Intent, below.)

Home-based Instruction Law affects children who are eight years old and older.

2: Parent Qualifications

 (Here’s the law) 

To qualify to homeschool you must fulfill one of the following:

  • Have earned 45 quarter units of college level credit.
  • Attend a Parent Qualifying Course. Here is the link to WHO with a list of courses available. There is usually a course at Whatcom Community College in the spring that fulfills the requirement, but it is also offered online.
  • Work with a certificated teacher who meets with your student on the average of an hour a week.
  • Be deemed sufficiently qualified to provide home-based instruction by the superintendent of your local school district.

    3: Required Paperwork

 

III – Required Paperwork

RCW 28A.200.010 (1)

  • Declaration of Intent to Provide Home Based Instruction must be filed annually. Also Also see our Top 10 Questions regarding the Declaration of Intent
  • This form is obtained from and returned to the superintendent of the school district in which you live, or the district that accepts the student as a transfer student.
  • The information you need to include on the form is your child(ren’s) name and age, parent’s name, address and indicate if qualifying to homeschool by using a supervising certificated teacher, sign and date. School districts are not legally authorized to vary the format of the Declaration of Intent or to request additional information.
  • This form protects the school – they are not responsible for the education of the child. This form protects the parent – your child(ren) are not truant.
  • Your declaration of intent does not limit your ability to use the public school for part-time enrollment and/or ancillary services.
  • Under absolutely NO circumstance is a child under 8 ever obligated to be included on a Declaration of Intent, including a child previously enrolled in school.  Many school district officials erroneously believe otherwise.  Use this form Formal Withdraw Letter to formally withdraw your <8yo student without submitting a Declaration of Intent.

IV – Required Subjects

RCW 28A.225.010 (4)

The 11 required subjects need to be included in your curriculum.
The 11 required subjects are reading, writing, spelling, language, math, science, social studies, history, health, occupational education, and art and music appreciation.
These do not have to be taught separately. A unit study on frogs could include reading, writing, spelling, science, math, art and occupational education.

V – Annual Testing

RCW28A.200.010 (3)

Your students must participate in annual testing.

Testing can be accomplished one of two ways:

  1. Non-test Assessments – an assessment of the student’s academic progress is written by a Washington State certified teacher who is currently working in the field of education.
  2. Standardized Testing – a standardized achievement test approved by the State Board of Education is administered annually to the child by a qualified individual.
  • Test results are part of your private homeschool record, no one else receives a copy.
  • WHO maintains a list of individuals who administer tests in your area.

VI – Record Keeping

RCW 28A.200.010 (2)

You must keep records.

  • Your homeschool records should include the student’s annual test scores or assessment report (see V) and immunization records, together with any other records that are kept relating to instructional and educational activities.
  • The law is not specific on how or in what form these records are to be kept.
  • These are your private records and do not need to be shared with any state agency.
  • These records can, and probably will be, requested by school administration if your child is later enrolled in a traditional school setting.

RCW 28A.200.020 states that parents who are causing their children to receive home-based instruction shall be subject only to those minimum state laws and regulations which are necessary in ensuring that a sufficient basic educational opportunity is provided to the children receiving such instruction. Therefore, all decisions relating to philosophy or doctrine, selection of books, teaching materials and curriculum, and methods, timing and place in the provision or evaluation of home-based instruction shall be the responsibility of the parent except for matters specifically referred to in Chapter 28A.225 RCW.

The homeschool law also states that the legislature recognizes that home-based instruction is less structured and more experiential than the instruction normally provided in a classroom. Therefore, the provisions relating to the nature and quantity of instructional and related educational activities shall be liberally construed.

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