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West Virginia Homeschool Law: An Explanation

West Virginia Code 18-8-1(a), states:

... compulsory school attendance begins with the school year in which the sixth birthday is reached prior to September 1 of such year or upon enrolling in a publicly supported kindergarten program and, subject to subdivision (3) of this subsection, continues to the sixteenth birthday or for as long as the student continues to be enrolled in a school system after the sixteenth birthday.

(3) Beginning with the 2011-2012 high school freshman cohort class of students, and notwithstanding the provisions of section one of this article, compulsory school attendance begins with the school year in which the sixth birthday is reached prior to September 1 of such year or upon enrolling in a publicly supported kindergarten program and continues to the seventeenth birthday or for as long as the student continues to be enrolled in a school system after the seventeenth birthday.

[NOTE: A student under 18 who wants a driver’s license or permit should continue to file the notice of intent and annual assessment.] 

West Virginia Code 18-8-1 subsection (c) contains two subdivisions that allow an exemption to compulsory attendance for “home instruction.” Under subdivision (1), the approval option, the county superintendent and school board must approve a “request for home instruction;” each county determines its own guidelines for homeschool approval and reporting (see below for more details). In subdivision (2), the notice of intent option, the law specifies what a family must do to homeschool. It also requires that a superintendent must obtain an order from the circuit court to stop a family from homeschooling, which means that the superintendent must have proof that a child’s education is being neglected.

Most WV homeschool students file for an exemption to compulsory attendance under subdivision 2, the notice of intent option.

Notice of intent option -- subdivision (2) – requires the person providing home instruction to:

1)      file a notice of intent to homeschool annually with the county board of education. The notice must include the name, age, grade level, and address of the children to be instructed; 

2)      submit evidence of the instructor’s high school diploma or equivalent;

3)      outline a plan of instruction

4)      submit a report of an academic assessment each year by June 30 for each homeschooled student. Assessment options include:

a)      Any nationally normed, standardized achievement test

·         in reading, language, math, science, and social studies

·         administered under standardized conditions according to publisher’s instructions (WVHEA’s testing service is authorized by the publisher, McGraw-Hill, and has been approved by the West Virginia Department of Education.)

·         may NOT be administered by the parents

·         must have been published within the previous 10 years

·         criteria for acceptable progress can be met in one of two ways:

1)      Mean percentile score is equal to or greater than 50.

2)      If the mean percentile score is less than 50, but shows improvement from previous year. WVDE agrees that improvement can be shown by a 1% increase in percentile score (as per ESEA – No Child Left Behind Act) or an increase in the scale score in the same test series (CTB/McGraw-Hill).

b)    WESTEST -- participation in the testing program in the public schools. Criteria for progress is determined by current state guidelines for school testing programs. Parents should notify the county superintendent's office as early as possible if they plan to use this option to ensure space and materials will be available.

c)    Portfolio -- a portfolio of samples of the child’s work reviewed by a certified teacher. The portfolio itself is not “turned in” to any county official. The parent submits a narrative signed by the reviewer stating whether the child’s progress is in accordance with his/her abilities. The narrative must include a statement about the child’s progress in reading, language, mathematics, science, and social studies and note areas, if any, which show need for improvement or remediation.

d)    Alternative academic assessmentthe type of assessment is agreed upon by the parent and the county. Possibilities include grades and evaluations from a correspondence school or video curriculum; results of a developmentally appropriate skills test or professional assessment; evaluation through a program for special needs; a daily log of instruction; a standardized test administered with modifications to published instructions such as extended time limits or reading done by the test administrator. If you have some other idea, check with your superintendent when you submit your notice of intent and see what can be worked out.

5)    initiate a remedial program if the student does not demonstrate acceptable yearly progress (AYP).

a.    After the 1st year that AYP is not achieved, the county board must notify parents in writing of the services available to determine whether the child is eligible for special education services. Parents are not required to use such services nor will the identification of a disability preclude the continuation of homeschooling. 

b.    After the 2nd consecutive year that AYP is not achieved, parents must provide evidence that appropriate instruction is being provided. This does not give the superintendent or the school board the power to approve or disapprove the home instruction.   

Approval option -- subdivision (1) – specifies that:

·         the county board of education and the county superintendent approve the home instruction program, including the instructor and the place where the instruction takes place.

·         the county board may deny someone the right to homeschool. The board must furnish good and reasonable justification in writing when it denies a request to homeschool.

·         the length of the school year must equal the school term of the county.

·         the county superintendent may request that information and records related to instruction, progress of the student, and attendance be submitted to the county board.

Subdivision (3) applies to both subdivision (1) and (2): 

·       The county must provide all available textbooks, resources, and other teaching materials, at the request of the instructor.

·       The county can allow homeschooled children to attend classes at the local public school, if the instructor requests it, subject to availability and normal registration.