Homeschooling in New York

New York is one of the toughest States for Homeschoolers. However, you do not have to let that fact scare you. The laws for homeschooling in New York State can be compared to hoops through which a parent must jump.

Hoop 1: A parent must file a “notice of intention” to instruct at home. This notice must be submitted to the school district before the school year starts or within 14 days following the commencement of home instruction within the school district.
Possible complications: The school district then sends the parents forms with explicit instructions that must be followed to the letter. The parents have four weeks of the receipt of such materials to submit the completed IHIP (individualized home instruction plan) form to the school district. The school district will then respond with approval or demand changes with another deadline. This can go back and forth a few times, with parents being allowed the right to appeal any such final school district determination within 30 days after receipt of such determination. In the end, the parent can still be denied the right to homeschool.
Solutions: To avoid the hassle of being denied, you should consult with other homeschoolers who have passed this approval stage and have them help you.

Hoop 2: Parents must keep attendance records and provide them upon request.
Possible complications: Considering that it is unlikely a child would not be present in a homeschool, failure to jump through this hoop will land the parents in trouble for having a truant child.
Solution: No matter how silly it seems, get a simple notebook and keep attendance records in it. Each child must spend an equivalent of 180 days of instruction each school year.

Hoop 3: Parents must provide Quarterly reports on or before the dates specified by the parent in the IHIP to the school district. It must contain the number of hours of instruction during said quarter; a description of the material covered in each subject listed in the IHIP; either a grade for the child in each subject or a written narrative evaluating the child’s progress; and a written explanation in the event that less than 80 percent of the amount of the course materials as set forth in the IHIP planned for that quarter has been covered in any subject.
Possible complications: If a curriculum turns out to be wrong for your child, it can be difficult to make changes, as you are required to teach what you said you would teach.
Solution: New Yorkers need to choose homeschool curriculums carefully. New homeschoolers should avoid making up their own programs or using unproven programs. You may also want to consider using a charter school.

Hoop 4: The parent must proved results of an assessment test. The test must be commercially published norm-referenced achievement tests, chosen from amongst the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, the California Achievement Test, the Stanford Achievement Test, the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills, the Metropolitan Achievement Test, a State Education Department test, or another test approved by the State Education Department. The test must also be administered by the public school, at a registered nonpublic school, at a non-registered nonpublic school, or at the parents’ home or at any other reasonable location, by a New York State-certified teacher or another qualified person, provided that the superintendent has given consent. In addition, the test shall be scored by the persons administering the test or by other persons who are mutually agreeable to the parents and the superintendent of schools.
Possible complications: If a score on a test is determined to be inadequate, the homeschool program shall be placed on probation.
Solutions: Take time to prepare your child for standardized testing. Thirty minutes a day on test taking skills will remove any worries about your child’s abilities. If a dispute arises between the parents and the superintendent of schools, the parents may appeal to the board of education. If the parents disagree with the determination of the board of education, the parents may appeal to the Commissioner of Education within 30 days of receipt of the board’s final determination.

There is a reason New York homeschooling laws seem so outdated and controlling. The laws have not changed in 18 years. They are outdated. Currently a Homeschool Freedom Bill has been introduced with the intent give parents a bit more flexibility when homeschooling their children in New York. HSLDA (Homeschool Legal defense Association) would like to see the
� Elimination of the Individualized Home Instruction Plan (IHIP);
� Elimination the requirement of quarterly reports;
� Elimination of required subjects at all grade levels;
� Alternative method of evaluation permitted
� Permit parents to test their children using any nationally-normed standardized achievement test
� Elimination of local superintendent consent
� Lower minimum standardized test score
� Elimination of the provision for home visits while a home instruction program is on probation.

It is not likely that all of these wishes will be granted though the amendment could pass with minus several proposed items.
To make planning your homeschool program easier, New York State Department of Education recommends the following websites, among others:
A&E Classroom
Awesome Library
Blue Web’N
Community Learning Network
Discovery School
Education Index
Education Virtual Library
Education World
Educator’s Reference Desk
Fun Brain
Kids Identifying and Discovering Sites (KIDS) Report
Learners Online
Marco Polo
New York Times Learning Network
PBS Teacher Source
What Works Clearinghouse
World Almanac for Kids

The most important thing you can do while homeschooling in New York is to stay informed. You will want to know if any laws change (in your favor or not) as well as share ideas tips with other New York homeschooling parents. You can do this by joining

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