The Ochs family in Illinois was informed in late September that their student would be unable to participate in PSAT testing at the high school in their district because he was homeschooled. Officials told the Ochs that the school’s contract with College Board does not allow them to let homeschooled students participate in PSAT testing.
In Illinois, as is the case in most (but not all) states, there is no law guaranteeing homeschoolers access to the PSAT. Testing access is ultimately discretionary on the part of the district.
But the school’s assertion that College Board does not allow homeschoolers to take the PSAT was simply incorrect. College Board generally encourages schools to allow homeschool students to sit for its exams.
Unfortunately, the Ochs family’s case is not unique; this year, we have seen a stark increase in the number of homeschool students who are being told they cannot take the PSAT at their local school.
PSATs can be important for students who plan to attend college. The PSAT helps prepare them for other college entrance exams, and it is the qualifying test for entry to the National Merit Scholarship Program.
Alternatively, homeschool students may be able to find a private or public school in their area (sometimes outside their district) that is administering the PSAT, but this is not always possible.
In the Ochs’ case, their son’s inability to take the PSAT was initially due to the school’s misunderstanding of College Board’s policies. Because the school district gave the Ochs family no options for accessing the PSAT, they contacted HSLDA.
Setting the Record Straight
We wrote a letter to the district clarifying that College Board does not bar homeschoolers from taking the PSAT at local public schools and urged officials to allow this homeschooled student to take the test. The Ochs family continued their conversation with the district and encouraged them to do the right thing for their student, expressing their willingness to bear the financial cost of the test.
The school contacted the Ochs family shortly after and informed them that their son would be allowed to take the PSAT.
We’re grateful for the high school’s willingness to work with the Ochs family to allow their student to participate in the PSAT.
HSLDA will continue to work to find a more permanent solution to the problem of homeschool families being denied access to PSAT testing. In the meantime, if you are an HSLDA member family and encounter a similar PSAT-related problem in Illinois, please feel free to contact us. We would be happy to assist you!