A lot of our families are dealing with school districts who refuse to create Individualized Education Plans (IEP’s), or who refuse to implement hard-fought for plans, or who actually lose IEP’s. (Yes, you read that correctly!)
So for many of our families, homeschooling has become an important option. Homeschooling allows families to set their child’s educational goals, allows the child to learn in a way that is best for the child, and lets families breathe a sigh of relief from fighting with their school district.
And homeschooling in West Virginia is not hard. However, I strongly recommend that you send everything required by law to your district by certified mail, with a return receipt, and to keep copies of absolutely everything you send to your district, or receive from them that are required under the law. I have had districts lose all my papers, so having copies and proof of receipt in hand is really important to prove that you are complying with the law. When I visit my district, I also have someone stamp the date and sign every paper I give them. And I make copies. 🙂
But don’t let making copies and getting certified proof of mailing scare you! Here are the steps for homeschooling in West Virginia:
1: Every year, a parent must notify the superintendent of their school district that the family intends to homeschool their child(ren).
You must provide the superintendent the name, address, age and grade level of your child (ren).
2: In your notice to the superintendent that you will be homeschooling your child(ren), you must include some kind of evidence that you have completed a high school degree or your GED. You can send a copy of your high school diploma or GED, or you can send a degree from a higher education program if you have it. Don’t send the originals!! Remember, copy, copy, copy.
3: In your notice, you must include an outline (very brief) of the plan for instruction for the school year.
Either mail your above notice with your child(ren)’s names, addresses, ages, and grade levels, with your diploma or GED copy, and the school year plan to the superintendent by certified mail with a return receipt. When the receipt comes, copy it, and save both the original and copy in case the district loses them (which has happened in West Virginia!) This notice and the receipt prove that you are homeschooling and can not be brought up on truancy charges. Or, take the notice to your district, have an official copy all of it and sign that it has been received and on what date. Again, copy and save at home.
4: By June 30 of each school year, you must submit proof that an education is taking place in your home. You can do this a couple of ways:
You can have your child tested with a nationally recognized test, such as the California Achievement Test, which must be administered by someone other than a parent, and if scores are in the 50 percentile rank or higher, then you have proof your child is progressing. You can order the five subject California Achievement Test for $37 (including the final report) here. (no affiliate; this is just the test I prefer!) You can ask for the test’s results in pdf in an email to make this even faster.
You can also send your child to your local school for the WestTest, or its local equivalence, and if those scores are in the 50 percentile rank or higher, then you have proof your child is progressing. (However, your school district may use your child’s scores as part of their own rankings).
You can hire a certified WV teacher to evaluate your child’s work by submitting a portfolio of things you have done during the year for evaluation. This is not for grading! The evaluator will judge whether or not your child is making adequate progress as a student, and give you a letter affirming so for your school district. I know of portfolio evaluators who charge from $30 – $50 for each evaluation. Lists of evaluators are available online from the Christian Home Educators of West Virginia website or other homeschool groups.
You can even work with your district to establish a form of evaluation not mentioned here or in the law. Examples include evaluations by umbrella homeschooling groups (K12, for example), where your child has attended online classes and your district agrees to accept the grades from your online school. You must negotiate this at the beginning of the school year, however.
Mail whichever proof you have (your test scores, or your certified teacher affidavit, or your other proof of progress) to your district by June 30th, again with certified mail, return receipt, and again saving the receipt when it comes as proof you are complying with the law. Or take the proof to your district, and again have it copied, signed and dated to prove you are complying with the law. And again copy your proof and keep for your records.
And that is it!
I homeschool my 14 year old, who took the California Achievement Test this June, and I submitted those scores to my county Superintendent. She scored higher than 50% on all sections, so she is by law making adequate progress. And that is it! The test cost $36 online, and I mailed the results (a copy) plus a cover letter to the district, certified and with a return receipt.
There are lots of WV homeschool organizations online who will help you, so check them out. Many area groups have fun field trips, game nights for the whole family, and outings to local play parks. So check locally! One of our intrepid moms started her own Facebook group, and had 12 families within a day or two. So remember you are done fighting the district and have time to organize yourself!
If you have any questions, you can also ask us! Please do not construe any of this as legal advice, as WHOLE Families West Virginia is not a law firm. If you do need to, consult a lawyer. Or better yet, read the WV homeschool law, with annotations to explain it, here.