c/o Philip Hills
265 Middle Road
Deerfield, NH 03037
Revised July 2012
This information should NOT be considered legal advice. For legal advice, get in touch with the Home School Legal Defense Association or (540) 338-5600.
In New Hampshire, homeschooling law covers children who are six years old before September 30 until the child’s eighteenth birthday. You may conclude your homeschool program before your child is 18, however, by ”[d]ocumenting the completion of a home school program at the high school level by submitting a certificate or letter to the department of education.” A letter to the NH Commissioner of Education (101 Pleasant Street, Concord, NH 03301-3494) stating that your child’s high school education at home has been successfully completed should suffice.
In order to homeschool in NH, parents need to:
Now for the fine print.
Choosing a Participating Agency
The agency may be the NH Commissioner of Education, the local superintendent of schools, or a nonpublic school that will agree to act in that capacity. The Commissioner is probably a poor choice, since the NH Department of Education would like as few homeschoolers as possible to use them as a participating agency. They have enough other things to do. Most homeschoolers use the local superintendent, which usually works out quite well. You may want to consider the third option: a Christian school.
Why choose a nonpublic school? Chances are that administrators at a Christian school are going to be more in tune with your own way of thinking. They may be more understanding of your desire to homeschool and your reasons for homeschooling. They may be more sympathetic with your curriculum choices, and if problems arise in your program they may be more willing to work out a solution.
The downside is that not every Christian school is willing to act as a participating agency, they usually charge for their services, and some require more information from homeschoolers than a public agency is allowed to demand. To find a Christian school which will work with you, ask other homeschoolers where they go, or go to http://nhhomeschooling.org/non-public-schools.
Within 5 days of commencing a home school program or provide subsequent notice if withdrawing a child from a public school or upon a change of participating agencies when moving into a new school district or upon terminating a home education program, send a letter of notification to your participating agency stating your intention to homeschool your child. Include the following information:
Sending in the notification letter “return receipt requested” could help you prove that you have complied with the law.
The participating agency must acknowledge receipt of your notification within 14 days. This acknowledgment letter is important. It demonstrates your compliance with the compulsory attendance law. You might want to consider keeping this letter, or a copy of it handy and visible, should authorities come inquiring why your children were seen at the supermarket with you during school hours.
During the school year homeschoolers are required to keep a portfolio, which is a collection of samples of the child’s work as well as a log of reading materials. Homeschoolers are required to keep this log for two years, so don’t throw it away. This portfolio is the property of the parents, who are not required to show it to anyone unless they have chosen a teacher evaluator to review it. If your participating agency demands or requests to see it, you have a right to refuse.
Parents are required to annually evaluate their children. There are four evaluation options:
Although a public school is required to provide a teacher evaluation if you request it, and although you can request to be included in testing at the school, you may want to think long and hard about pursuing evaluation that way. Homeschoolers usually find it a good investment to pay for an independent teacher evaluation or a standardized test and then send it in to the participating agency. To find a teacher, get a recommendation from other homeschoolers.
The teacher evaluatuion is based on a teacher’s review of the child’s portfolio and a conversation with you or your child. It should include:
If you do not sign the evaluation, it is not considered valid.
Another evaluation option is any standardized state or national test. State tests (currently the “NECAP”) are geared to the public school curriculum, so they are probably not a good choice for most of us. National tests (such as the “Iowa,” “PASS,” and “CAT,” among others) are usually more appropriate. Again, get recommendations from other homeschoolers. Some of these tests can be administered by the parent - it depends on what the publisher says.
The child must achieve a composite score of at least the 40th percentile for this evaluation to be considered successful. Not all testing services automatically send you the composite score. The composite score is defined as the “one score that is provided by the publisher of the standardized test, or the average of all such scores that have been provided by the publisher of the standardized test.” So if they don’t provide such a score, compute the average of all the scores.
A final evaluation option is the “mutually agreed upon method”. This kind of agreement should be made in advance in writing and should be signed by the parent and the agency. This option lets you and the agency decide what is the most appropriate method. This choice is rare, but can be useful in certain situations.
Whatever method you choose, plan ahead so that you will have time for a second evaluation if your first doesn’t work out. For example, if your child was feeling unwell on test day he/she might not achieve the 40th percentile, even though his/her ability is far beyond that. What can you do in that situation? If there is enough time, you can get a teacher evaluation that would more accurately measure your child’s progress.
You are NOT required to submit the evaluations to anyone but must keep them as part of your records.
Homeschooled children may participate in public school activities in the local school district no matter who the participating agency is.
School districts are required to provide special education assessment and evaluation if requested by the parent, but they are not required to provide any other special education services, though they may be willing to do so.
In New Hampshire parents do not have to have children immunized. Parents can seek a religious exemption, which is routinely granted. Immunization information does not have to be submitted to the school district unless the child participates in school activities.
Public School students as well as any homeschooled children who participate in school activities are assigned a SASID, a State Assigned Student Identifier. The NH Department of Education says, “Each student who must be tracked by a public school system will be issued a student identifier. Every student receiving public school services in NH will receive and retain a state assigned student identifier (SASID) used throughout his/her K-12 public education in NH This number will remain with them at least until age 21.” At present, homeschooled children who do not participate in public school activities are not assigned a SASID.
If you have any question about the issues raised in this article, please feel free to get in touch with CheNH or HSLDA.