Many of you have asked about the implications of a recent statement by the Trump administration, relative to annual student testing. We would like to clear up any confusion on this issue.
As part of the government response to COVID-19, President Trump has declared that federally required standardized testing for public schools has been waived.
The statement was in reference to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a federal program that grants funds to states that comply with requirements set by the United States Department of Education (DOE). It is the successor to No Child Left Behind, which was the successor to the Elementary and Secondary Students Act.
Federal Funds at Issue
Although the federal government lacks constitutional authority to make law regarding state education, it often promotes certain policies through programs such as ESSA by making money available to states that agree to abide by these policies. And one of the ways the DOE ensures its requirements are being met is by testing students.
It was this sort of annual testing that President Trump waived. It meant that, for this year, states do not have to test students in order to receive federal money from programs such as ESSA.
This waiver does not apply to homeschooling families.
States in Charge
Homeschool regulation is state specific (and we want to keep it that way). In most cases, only state legislatures have the authority to waive state educational requirements.
Home School Legal Defense Association is monitoring state legislatures for any such action. You can see the bills we are tracking at our Legislative Action Center. We have a special folder just for COVID-19 legislation.
Most states that require assessments usually allow for options other than testing. If your state does not have other options, please contact HSLDA for specific guidance.
Otherwise, HSLDA recommends that homeschoolers continue to follow the law as it relates to assessing their child.
In a few states, there may be problems in getting the required test, and we will intercede with the state to work out an equitable solution.
We understand this situation has affected homeschooling families in many ways, including the limitation on social gatherings and co-ops. This too will pass, so use it as an opportunity to do things as a family you would not normally do.
HSLDA attorneys will be communicating directly with our members and homeschooling communities regarding legislation or other changes. Continue to comply with the legal requirements set by state law for assessments, and use the flexibility the law allows through means such as online testing, portfolio assessments, progress reports, or other methods. You can get more information about your state’s assessment options here.
We’re Here for You
If you have any questions, please contact your state legal team by email at [your state name]@hslda.org (e.g., Colorado@hslda.org).
We continue to encourage our homeschool community to use appropriate means to reach out to neighbors and friends as an example that learning isn’t a place—it’s an experience that can happen anywhere!
HSLDA’s Starting Strong page is a good place for you to point people who have questions about homeschooling. We hope you will also encourage your friends to consider joining HSLDA so we can give them the same support you enjoy!
As we navigate unprecedented challenges in our country, all of us at HSLDA are thinking about and praying for our members and friends!
May God bless us all!