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November 8, 2013

Common Core Testing Affects Homeschoolers this Year

Senior Counsel Dee Black answers questions and assists members with legal issues in Tennessee. He and his wife homeschooled their children. Read more >>

According to the Tennessee Department of Education, as stated on its website in the FAQs section of the Common Core State Standards History and Fact Sheet, “The adoption of Common Core State Standards has no impact on homeschooling.” Not exactly.

Because of a state test mandated for public school students in Tennessee this year, school administrators will expect some homeschoolers to take this test that is based on the controversial Common Core State Standards (CCSS). How can this be? State law requires that students not being homeschooled through enrollment in a church-related school but through their local school district must take the same standardized tests required of public school students in grades 5, 7, and 9. In February of 2014, all public school students in grades 5, 8, and 11 will take an online writing assessment based on the CCSS as part of the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP). This means that some homeschool students in the 5th grade this year will be included in the testing. Full implementation of the CCSS assessments in math and English language arts for grades 3-11 is planned for the 2014-2015 school year.

The vast majority of homeschooling parents in Tennessee teach their children through enrollment in a church-related school where they are not subject to state tests. So only a small percentage of families will have to deal with the CCSS testing. Even these families have a good legal argument to avoid it.

The federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) requires states to test public school students in grades 3-12 to determine whether state academic standards are being met. The CCSS adopted by Tennessee in 2010 and the resulting state tests will be employed to meet these federal requirements. Here’s where the federal law helps homeschoolers. The NCLB expressly states that homeschool students are exempt from state assessments used to comply with this federal law. Even so, we at Home School Legal Defense Association have to overcome the contrary language in state law when dealing with state officials who do not readily accept the exemption. HSLDA members who are notified to participate in the online writing assessment test should contact us for assistance.

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