Children are homeschooled for a variety of reasons and some of these reasons may dictate the type of educational materials selected. For example, a family may be interested in a classical education or perhaps a faith-based curriculum.
If there is no particular emphasis, a parent may want to use the planned courses, textbooks and other curriculum materials appropriate to the student's age and grade level used by the school district. These are available for borrowing simply by requesting them; there is no fee and the school district is legally required to lend them. See 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1 (f).
Other example resources may include the following:
- Public or private libraries
- Curriculum that may be purchased from many sources
- Online or correspondence courses ("umbrella schools")
There are many sources of instruction that may be used in conjunction with a home education program. All that is necessary for home education credit to be allowed for instruction from these sources is to show in the portfolio the evidence of the work completed. It is not necessary for the supervisor of the home education program to deliver all the instruction, but only to supervise it.
An "umbrella school” is an alternative source of education which oversees the homeschooling of children to fulfill the requirements of a state government. In PA, it includes instruction that is neither a public school nor a "brick-and-mortar" private school. Examples include correspondence courses, online (“cyber”) schools or any type of distance-learning school (e.g., webinar). Anyone using curriculum from such a source must operate as a home education program with all its legal requirements.
PDE does not recognize a diploma issued by an umbrella school, although other institutions may. However, a home education program utilizing the umbrella school's curriculum may obtain a PDE-recognized diploma. See the Diploma section.
The home education curriculum requirements are divided into elementary school level (K-6) and secondary school level (7-12). The required courses must be taught at some time during that grade-level interval, with the exception of "regular and continuous instruction in the dangers and prevention of fires," which is mandated as on-going.
Elementary school level (grades K-6), mandatory courses: English, to include spelling, reading and writing; arithmetic; science; geography; history of the United States and Pennsylvania; civics; safety education, including regular and continuous instruction in the dangers and prevention of fires; health and physiology; physical education; music; and art.
Secondary school level (grades 7-12), mandatory courses: English, to include language, literature, speech and composition; science; geography; social studies, to include civics, world history, history of the United States and Pennsylvania; mathematics, to include general mathematics, algebra and geometry; art; music; physical education; health; and safety education, including regular and continuous instruction in the dangers and prevention of fires. Such courses of study may include, at the discretion of the supervisor of the home education program, economics; biology; chemistry; foreign languages; trigonometry; or other age-appropriate courses as contained in Chapter 5 (Curriculum Requirements) of the State Board of Education.
Note: the Chapter 5 (Curriculum Requirements of the State Board of Education), mentioned in 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(c) as a resource to find other age-appropriate courses, has been repealed and replaced with Chapter 4 (22 Pa. Code Chapter 4), discussed below. Therefore, supervisors may consult 22 Pa. Code Chapter 4 for information regarding age-appropriate courses.
Graduation requirements: The following minimum courses in grades nine through twelve are established as a requirement for graduation in a home education program.
- Four years of English
- Three years of mathematics
- Three years of science
- Three years of social studies
- Two years of arts and humanities
Other Age-Appropriate Courses
CHAPTER 4. ACADEMIC STANDARDS AND ASSESSMENT (22 Pa. Code Chapter 4) contains very detailed standards for parents who are interested in comparing normal expectations for students in various grades for curriculum content or for preparing for standardized testing. Additionally, this section contains course suggestions for secondary school students (grades 7-12) listed as the "other age-appropriate courses" in the home education law.
HINT: On the webpage for Chapter 4 and Appendices, rather than using the hyperlinks at the top of the website, scroll down to the bottom of the page where there are assessment rubrics for various grade levels.
The appendices contain assessment rubrics for: (A) Reading; writing; speaking and listening; characteristics of the English language; research. (B) Science and technology. (C) Civics; government; economics; geography; history. (D) Arts and humanities; health; health, safety and physical education; family and consumer services. (E) Career education and work.
Additionally, the national Common Core standards for English/Language Arts and Math were adopted by the State Board of Education in July, 2010, as an amendment to the existing Chapter 4 regulations (Academic Standards and Assessment) with a three-year transition scheduled to reach full implementation by July 1, 2013. You can learn more about the Common Core Standards initiative at their website http://www.corestandards.org and http://corestandards.org/about-the-standards. This information may be helpful to homeschool families.
Assessment Anchors listed for each subject and grade level assessed by the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) are a subset of the state academic standards and define the academic content and skills that are assessed by the PSSA. These may be helpful in planning educational objectives.
A school district or private school may allow students that are homeschooled or being privately tutored to attend curricular classes in the district’s schools. Credits that are taken by dual enrollment count both toward secondary school requirements and graduation requirements.
School districts have written policies on participation of homeschooled students in curricular programs, such as science classes, computer labs, and foreign language courses. Please contact your local school district for this information. Unlike extracurricular activities, the provision of these services is totally dependent on the school district’s policy and not mandated. See 22 Pa Code § 11.41.
There is no set number of how many classes a homeschooled student may take under a dual enrollment program. See the Home Education section of the website on Dual and Concurrent Enrollment and 22 Pa Code § 11.33.
Concurrent enrollment allows a student who is enrolled in a school district, a charter school, an area vocational-technical school, a nonpublic school, a private school or a home education program under 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1 to take concurrent course through a concurrent enrollment program.
Concurrent enrollment is a program administered and developed by a school entity and an eligible postsecondary institution that allows students to concurrently enroll in postsecondary courses and to receive both secondary and postsecondary credit for that coursework. The term includes an early college high school program, a gateway to college program or a middle college high school program. See the Dual and Concurrent Enrollment section of this Home Education website and 24 P.S. § 16-1602-B.
Private Schools and Private Tutoring
Students may not enroll fulltime in a private school and simultaneously be homeschooled. A student may take a class or two from a private school, just as they may from a public school. Similarly, a student may not have a private tutor for all their courses and still operate as a home education program; this type of arrangement would fall under the private tutoring laws.
Last updated August 18, 2011