Summary of Home School Laws in the 50 States

Published February 1, 2005
Home Schooling in the United States: A Legal Analysis, by Christopher J. Klicka, contains a one-page legal summary for each state and territory in the union and is available for $20 from HSLDA, P.O. Box 3000, Purcellville, VA, 20132, or, or by calling 540/338-5600. Residents of the following states must add applicable sales tax: California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia.

Thirty-seven states have adopted home school statutes or regulations, in the following years:

1997, Alaska and Delaware
1996, Michigan
1991, Iowa
1990, Connecticut and New Hampshire
1989, Hawaii, Maine*, North Dakota, and Ohio
1988, Colorado, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina
1987, Maryland, Minnesota, Vermont, and West Virginia
1986, Missouri
1985, Arkansas, Florida, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington, and Wyoming
1984, Georgia, Louisiana, Rhode Island*, and Virginia
1983, Montana and Wisconsin
1982, Arizona and Missouri
1957, Utah*
1956, Nevada

* These three states still give superintendents or school boards the discretionary authority to “approve” home schools.

The rules governing home schooling in Maryland, New York, and Ohio are state board of education regulations rather than statutes. The rules governing home schools in Connecticut are Department of Education “guidelines.” The rest are home school statutes enacted by the state legislatures.

Forty-one states do not require home school parents to meet any specific teacher qualifications. Those requiring a high school diploma or GED are Georgia, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

The remaining two states have the following qualification requirements: North Dakota requires a high school diploma or GED and the parent must be monitored by a certified teacher for two years. West Virginia allows parents with a GED or high school diploma to teach until the child reaches high school. West Virginia parents’ formal education must remain four years ahead of the student.

At present, three states–Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Utah–subject home schools to the discretionary “approval” of the local school district, school board, or state commissioner.

Six states–Connecticut, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, New Jersey, and Nevada–require instruction or amount of time to be “equivalent” to those of the public schools. The term “equivalent” was struck down by courts as void because of vagueness in Minnesota and Missouri.

Three states–Delaware, Maryland, and Rhode Island–require instruction to be “regular and thorough.” Idaho requires instruction to be “comparable” to public schools.

Three states–California, Kansas, and New York–require home school teachers to be “competent,” “qualified,” or “capable of teaching.” In those three states, less than a GED is recognized as competent. New York parents who comply with the home instruction regulation are deemed “competent.”

Individual home schools may operate as private or church schools in at least 12 states: Alabama, Alaska, California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

Groups of home schoolers, rather than individual home schools, can qualify as private or church schools in five other states: Colorado, Florida, Maine, Utah, and Vermont.

Twenty-five states require standardized testing or other evaluation of the children. The following 10 states require only standardized testing: Arkansas, Georgia, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, and Tennessee. Two of those states–Georgia and Minnesota–do not require submission of results to the public school.

Of the 25 states that require some evaluation of progress, 16 provide an alternative to testing: Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia. Connecticut requires only a portfolio review, and Colorado, New Hampshire, and Washington do not require submission of test results or evaluation to the public school.

Oklahoma is the only state with a constitutional amendment that specifically guarantees the right to home school (“other means of education”).

Note: This information does not constitute the giving of legal advice.

Christopher J. Klicka ([email protected]) is senior counsel for the Home School Legal Defense Association and has intervened on behalf of thousands of home school families across the country.

For more information …

Further information about home schooling is available from the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) online at

Information also is available by writing HSLDA, P.O. Box 3000, Purcellville, VA, 20132, or by calling 540/338-5600. Call or write to receive a free copy of HSLDA’s newsletter and membership application.