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June 29, 2011

Chained to a Test

Annual testing requirements and antagonistic school officials are causing difficulty for homeschoolers in Italy. Although families have the legal right to teach their children at home, most school and education authorities are still unfamiliar with homeschooling.

“It is a difficult time to be a homeschooling advocate,” explains Erika Di Martino, the moderator of Controscuola. In Italy, the law requires parents to provide an annual notice of intent to the school authorities. Yet parents who comply in this area are then expected to bring their students to the local school to take an end-of-year assessment—the exam covers a variety of subjects following the state curriculum and may be up to three days worth of written tests plus an oral portion. If a homeschool student does not take the exam, or if he fails twice, officials revoke a family’s right to homeschool. More importantly, in practice, these exam periods take on an investigative tone as officials often try to pry information from homeschool children: “Do your parents let you go out?” — “Do you eat?” — “Do you have any friends?”

Di Martino is receiving a high volume of emails and phone calls from parents who are confused and concerned about this interaction with the school, especially since most families do not interact with the schools at all throughout the year. “Some parents are hiding; a few have found sympathetic school principals who don’t require the tests, but most families have to face a very challenging situation,” Di Martino notes. “If parents do not have their students tested, they may encounter trouble. Just today one of my good friends had the police at her doorstep.”

Although the number of homeschoolers in Italy has been growing, Di Martino says that the circumstances surrounding the testing requirement are causing families to give up. “This dreadful exam doesn’t allow parents to freely decide how and what to teach their children.”

Many parents feel as though they are battling on their own. Still, Di Martino and others are persevering in their efforts to connect homeschoolers in Italy and to take steps to increase their freedom. A recent visit from several American homeschool families provided valuable encouragement. Italian and American homeschoolers alike spent a wonderful day together and enjoyed a tour through Milan, Italy.

 More Information

Learn more by visiting “Controscuola” and HSLDA’s Italy webpage.