Last week, the Pennsylvania Legislature modified Pennsylvania’s homeschooling requirements for the 2019-2020 school year to protect the health and safety of homeschooling students amid the COVID-19 pandemic. One of these changes was a waiver of the annual evaluation requirement.

This has caused the parents of 12th graders to ask whether they must have their student evaluated prior to graduation.

Homeschooling parents who wish to use the PDE diploma form (and I recommend that they do because of its recognition and protection) must have a qualified evaluator sign the diploma, even though the specific requirements of the annual evaluation (namely, an interview, review of the portfolio, and certification of student progress) are not mandated for this year.

To be clear, the annual evaluation is not required under the homeschool statute for the 2019-2020 school year for any student. But to issue a diploma that receives specific statutory recognition and protection (24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(d.1), a homeschooling parent must still follow these three requirements.

  1. The student must complete the statutory graduation requirements.
  2. The supervisor must use the PDE diploma form.
  3. The student’s “12th grade evaluator” must sign the diploma “in confirmation of the student’s suitability for graduation.”

This third requirement assumes that there was an annual evaluation. The evaluator’s role in performing this annual evaluation is to interview the student, review the student’s portfolio, and certify whether an appropriate education is occurring—these specifics are not required for the 2019-2020 school year.

But an evaluator’s signature on the diploma is still required. The purpose of the 12th grade evaluator’s signature is clear: to confirm that the student completed the statutory graduation requirements.

The homeschool supervisor is still primarily responsible for providing instruction, grading student work, and issuing the diploma.

Parents using an approved diploma granting organization should ensure they comply with the organization’s requirements for issuing a high school diploma.

The above is meant to provide general information. For more specific questions or individualized assistance, please contact our office.