Article: States Loose on Homeschooling Regulations

Find the original post from the Middletown Journal here: http://www.middletownjournal.com/news/middletown-news/many-states-loose-on-homeschooling-regulations-1348366.html

Many states loose on homeschooling regulations

By Richard O. Jones and Denise Wilson, Staff Writers
Updated 12:15 PM Friday, March 23, 2012

With ever-tougher academic standards coming from both state and federal legislatures, schools are under unprecedented, increasing pressure to perform well on a variety of measures, including mandatory testing and more rigorous teacher evaluations.

But much of the pressure that trickles down to the students can be avoided when parents adopt a do-it-yourself approach to education.

To many, homeschooling is an effective way for families to educate their children, to others it is a loosely regulated world of education.

Since 1989, Ohio has given parents the option to home school their children without interference — or assistance — from the public school system. The Ohio Administrative Code outlines the rules of home education “to safeguard the primary right of parents to provide the education for their child(ren).”

Charles Russo, an education professor at the University of Dayton, called Ohio’s system “loosey-goosey” and said it is a potential end run around compulsory education for some families.

With no federal regulation of home schools, it’s left to the states to decide how much regulation is needed. Stanford University political science and education professor Rob Reich likened it to “the Wild West,” with nearly half the states having either no regulations or low regulations.

All a parent needs to do is register with the local public school district in which they live, providing them with a curriculum that meets a specified course of study, a list of textbooks and an “assurance” that they will provide a minimum of 900 hours of instruction a year.

Parents must also provide documentation that the home teacher, usually a parent, has a high school diploma, an equivalent certificate or a standard test score that demonstrates high school equivalence. Lacking that, the home teacher would have to work under the direction of someone with a bachelor’s degree “until the child’s or children’s test results demonstrate reasonable proficiency.”

Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute in Oregon, said research shows home schoolers on average perform better on standardized tests than public school students.

But Reich disputes such claims, saying they are often tiny samples of home schooling students: “There is simply no existing study that gets a genuinely representative sample of all homeschoolers and that is in part because we don’t even know who is being home-schooled because regulations are so minimal.”

An estimated 22,000 children in Ohio are home-schooled, though Ohio Department of Education spokesman Patrick Gallaway acknowledged the estimate is derived from individual district reports.

At the end of the year, parents must submit a standardized, nationally-normed achievement test administered by a certified teacher or other authorized person, or a written narrative review or “alternative academic assessment.”

Beyond that, school districts have no authority to advise or interfere with the child’s education.

Individual districts are responsible for keeping tabs on parents who teach children at home, but the state administrative code specifies no penalties for districts that don’t comply.

“They don’t have to give us a reason (for homeschooling), but a lot of them do,” said Tim Carr, the Hamilton City School District’s director of student services. “Religion is the biggest reason they give, but sometimes we get people who are just disgruntled at the school system or if the child is missing a lot of school because of illness.”

The Home School Legal Defense Association, a nonprofit advocacy organization in Virginia that provides legal services for its 80,000 member families, ranks each state according to their degree of regulations.

Ten states — including Michigan and Indiana — have no requirement for parents to register their home-schooled students.

“It’s as if they have gone off the grid entirely,” Reich said.

States that have attempted to tighten regulations have met with strong resistance from the well-organized home-school movement.

Russo said if a parent reports a problem, the Home School Legal Defense Association is likely to have a lawyer there the next day.

“Home-schooling advocates are very aggressive, and the Legal Defense Association is an in-your-face group that will be there in a heartbeat,” he said.

Michael Donnelly, one of the association’s 10 attorneys, said, “We just work wherever we can, whenever necessary, when opportunities present themselves to advocate in favor of reduced regulation because we don’t think it’s necessary. In fact in many respects we think it’s counterproductive. (Parents) are spending time jumping through hoops instead of spending time educating their kids.”

For Hamilton mother of five Peggy Bradshaw, it’s partly a matter of religion, but she said she homeschools her children because she enjoys it and it allows her to manage the family lifestyle better.

Page 2 of 2

“We’re not morning people, so we mostly work in the afternoon,” she said. “We have a little more freedom to do things without missing out on school work.

“Some days are more rigid than others, but we do school work every day.”

“The process basically in statue is really a right of families to homeschool,” said Lori Thesken, assistant superintendent for human resources at the Butler County Educational Service Center, which manages home school paperwork for the county’s local school districts. “If they choose to homeschool, they are required to notify us. They don’t request, they don’t submit an application, they notify us of their intent to homeschool.”

The only time a district has the authority to interfere is if the assessment at the end of the year fails to show any progress.

“Then we may be able to say this isn’t looking so good,” Thesken said. “I would say rarely has that occurred. We’ll hold this, until we get that assessment, and they can then be excused from compulsory education for the next year.”

“The school district has no responsibility for these families. Sometimes they’ll call and say, ‘I’m homeschooling can you send me the curriculum. No, we don’t have curriculum. Can I borrow textbooks? No, that is your responsibility. Most families take that responsibility very seriously. They either hire teachers, they share teachers amongst themselves and they will purchase a curriculum.”

Thesken said they know the students that are trying to fall between the cracks. “And there isn’t anything we can do about it.”

Because the students are excused from compulsory attendance, they are not counted in a district’s report to the state, and therefore the district does not get that child’s portion of state funding. But neither do the parents.

When homeschool students graduate, they do not get a high school diploma from the home district.

“They have to create their own diploma,” Carr said. “If they want a certificate, they can print one out from a computer program or whatever, but if they’re not in our curriculum, they can’t get a Hamilton City School District diploma.”

Maren Rausch, of West Chester Twp., has been homeschooling her two biological children, Kailey, a 14-year-old freshman, Justin, a 12-year-old sixth-grader and her two adopted children Elijah, a seven-year-old first-grader and Arilyan, a 5-year-old preschool student since 2002. Her kids have never been to school or attended Lakota.

She said she chose to homeschool her kids to teach them what she believes (Evangelical Christian) in without competition and to make sure they succeed.

“I have a better child teacher ratio than any classroom can afford. I’m 1 to 4, and there’s not a single public or private school with better ratios than that,” Rausch said.

Hamilton mother Peggy Bradshaw has been homeschooling her five children for 17 years. She graduated one and one decided not to finish. She now has a high school sophomore, an 11-year-old and a 10-year-old.

Bradshaw believes that a well-rounded education is “not just something you do at school.”

“If you want to instill a love of learning in your child, whatever they want to learn, they’ll learn,” she said. “We’ve always talked a lot with our kids about current issues and other subjects, so even if we’re not formally doing school, we have classroom-like discussions.”

Cherilu DuVal, who lives outside Trenton, along with her husband, Dave, started the Beth Yada Home School Group in 1988-89. The amilies are from Fairfield, Lebanon, Middletown, Monroe, Oxford, Springboro and Trenton. Beth Yada means house of learning.

She said 57 family member parent-run group, which today homeschools between 90 to 100 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 and features 46 Christian co-op families — started out in Franklin and then moved to Middletown where it currently meets at the Breiel Boulevard First Church of God on North.

“When I started homeschooling 23 years ago there wasn’t much information out there. It was hard to find curriculum. It was hard to find people who were homeschooling so people needed a lot of information about how to do it and they needed fellowship. As time has gone along with the internet there’s a lot of information and a lot of curriculum.”

Copyright © 2012 Middletown Journal, Middletown, Ohio, USA. All rights reserved.
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Homeschooling 101 Seminar by Unplugged Mom

You have to hear Laurette Lynn via a few of her podcasts to truly appreciate where she’s coming from and what she wants to instill in you. She wants you to be “educated” not “schooled.

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What is it she wants you to learn? Simple: Skipping “School,” even home(schooling) will lead to a more balanced and enlightened life for your children AND your family.

But don’t take my word for it. You can check out Laurette’s unique and engaging lessons live. But you have to act quick. The Unplugged Mom’s ten-week Homeschooling 101 Seminar begins TOMORROW! (July 27th, 20011)

Don’t fret if you miss them, though. She’ll be recording them so you can learn on your own time and at your own pace. Which, when we think about it, is what home education and self-learning are all about, isn’t it?

UPDATE: July 30, 2011 – Ten Week Seminar Series Begins August 3

Laurette will be scheduling weekly live web seminars beginning August 3, 2011, and ending October 5, 2011. The cost is very reasonable and there is a 20% discount for reserving all 10 seminars. Read more and reserve your space here.

Archive: Graduation Rates by the Numbers

The following is a reprint (copy/paste) from a a supplement to an article I archived here.

Graduation Rates by the Numbers

Written by The StarPress
10:46 PM, May. 21, 2011

The following represents the number of students from each graduating class (2006-2010) who dropped out or completed a home-school transfer anytime during their high school years before their expected date of graduation. The graduation rate for each year is also included.

Muncie Community Schools

2006
Graduation rate: 68.1 percent
Dropouts: 68
Home-school transfers: 11

2007
Graduation rate: 73.4 percent
Dropouts: 51
Home-school transfers: 48

2008
Graduation rate: 78.9 percent
Dropouts: 25
Home-school transfers: 121

2009
Graduation rate: 84.5 percent
Dropouts: 16
Home-school transfers: 146

2010
Graduation rate: 90.3 percent
Dropouts: 7
Home-school transfers: 143

Delaware Community Schools

2006
Graduation rate: 83.8 percent
Dropouts: 22
Home-school transfers: 1

2007
Graduation rate: 85 percent
Dropouts: 24
Home-school transfers: 6

2008
Graduation rate: 85.7 percent
Dropouts: 13
Home-school transfers: 8

2009
Graduation rate: 90.8 percent
Dropouts: 7
Home-school transfers: 20

2010
Graduation rate: 93.2 percent
Dropouts: 8
Home-school transfers: 18

Wes-Del Community Schools

2006
Graduation rate: 89.7 percent
Dropouts: 7
Home-school transfers: 0

2007
Graduation rate: 91.8 percent
Dropouts: 5
Home-school transfers: 0

2008
Graduation rate: 87.7 percent
Dropouts: 5
Home-school transfers: 3

2009
Graduation rate: 96.7 percent
Dropouts: 2
Home-school transfers: 5

2010
Graduation rate: 93.7 percent
Dropouts: 4
Home-school transfers: 2

Liberty-Perry Community Schools

2006
Graduation rate: 85.6 percent
Dropouts:
Home-school transfers: 0

2007
Graduation rate: 87.2 percent
Dropouts: 6
Home-school transfers: 1

2008
Graduation rate: 90.9 percent
Dropouts: 3
Home-school transfers: 2

2009
Graduation rate: 96.6 percent
Dropouts: 1
Home-school transfers: 3

2010
Graduation rate: 97.5 percent
Dropouts: 1
Home-school transfers: 6

Cowan Community Schools

2006
Graduation rate: 98 percent
Dropouts: 1
Home-school transfers: 0

2007
Graduation rate: 92.2 percent
Dropouts: 3
Home-school transfers: 0

2008
Graduation rate: 84.8 percent
Dropouts: 3
Home-school transfers: 1

2009
Graduation rate: 89.8 percent
Dropouts: 2
Home-school transfers: 0

2010
Graduation rate: 95.7 percent
Dropouts: 1
Home-school transfers: 3

Yorktown Community Schools

2006
Graduation rate: 88.3 percent
Dropouts: 11
Home-school transfers: 2

2007
Graduation rate: 93.2 percent
Dropouts: 5
Home-school transfers: 2

2008
Graduation rate: 88.1 percent
Dropouts: 15
Home-school transfers: 5

2009
Graduation rate: 93 percent
Dropouts: 5
Home-school transfers: 8

2010
Graduation rate: 95.3 percent
Dropouts: 2
Home-school transfers: 14

Daleville Community Schools

2006
Graduation rate: 84.4 percent
Dropouts: 2
Home-school transfers: 1

2007
Graduation rate: 81.6 percent
Dropouts: 6
Home-school transfers: 0

2008
Graduation rate: 85.2 percent
Dropouts: 7
Home-school transfers: 2

2009
Graduation rate: 87.5 percent
Dropouts: 6
Home-school transfers: 5

2010
Graduation rate: 78.7 percent
Dropouts: 8
Home-school transfers: 6

Source: Indiana Department of Education

Archive: MCS Graduation Rate Too Good to Believe

Due to the practice of archiving (and effectively burying) articles published online, I archived various articles of importance, in the event that they can not be found at the original source. This is a “copy/paste” job and of course, all rights still belong to the author and the publisher. The original Post can be found at: http://www.thestarpress.com/

Are MCS graduation rates too good to be true?

11:09 PM, May. 21, 2011
Written by Michelle Kinsey

MUNCIE — Over the last four years, Muncie Community Schools has seen a significant increase in its graduation rates — from 68 percent in 2006 to 85 percent in 2009.

Too good to be true? Well, it’s complicated.

To get to the reasons behind the growth, you have to look at the ways the district is trying to keep kids in school, as well as the ways in which those who are leaving are being documented.

There’s no doubt the district has created legitimate and successful means of keeping students on track to graduate. But the recent improvement in graduation rates across the state is also misleading, thanks to a change in the law that allows parents to simply indicate their child is home-schooled to avoid the “drop-out” label.

So graduation rates are better than they’ve been in many years, but are the needs of at-risk students really being served? Well, that depends on the district and how far they’re willing to go to meet the needs of troubled students.
Credit where credit is due

The efforts to keep students in the classroom until they get that diploma are centered on the credit recovery program, which began four years ago.

“We have seen a significant improvement in graduation rates since it began,” according to MCS Director of Secondary Education Jo Ann McCowan.

This semester, 26 seniors are on track to graduate next month with their class after earning credits through the program.

DaTiana Jolly, 18, is one of them.

On Tuesday, Jolly was five questions into her chemistry final, the last credit needed for her diploma.

“I like it here,” she said of the lab, which is lined with 25 computers at the Muncie Area Career. “It gives you a chance to teach yourself; to find a way that’s easiest for you.”

After last semester at the lab, Jolly decided to return to finish out the remainder of her credits here.

“No, I don’t think I would be graduating without this program,” she said. “No way.”

One size does not fit all

The key part of this credit recovery program is its flexibility.

“We really work with the student to find the best fit,” McCowan said.

(Page 2 of 4)

While the first year of the program’s existence offered a limited amount of labs, students now have the option to recover their credits in one-hour increments during labs at their school; attend half- or full-day labs at the Muncie Area Career Center during the school day, or go into the MACC a few nights a week. They can even do the lab work during summer school.

Students get to move at their own pace thanks to an online program (PLATO) that allows students to test out of sections they already know and spend more time in sections requiring more effort.

Surrounding Jolly were more than a dozen other students working on a variety of subjects, from algebra to world history. Forty credits in all are offered through the recovery program.

For many students — not all, mind you — the program is just what they need to keep them on track until they get that cap and gown.

“Some kids do much better in the MACC labs because they are away from all the distractions at their home school,” McCowan said.

Students here will do the credit recovery work as well as their normal class work.

“It’s like a one-room schoolhouse,” McCowan said.

The one-room teacher is Angie Johnson.

She has seen students walk through the door with F’s and walk out on the honor roll. But she said success in the program requires constant “tracking” by her and school counselors.

“I have them all on speed dial,” she said.

Muncie’s success with the program, she said, has led to the creation of similar programs at Cowan, Daleville, Delta and Wapahani high schools.

She added that the local credit recovery program has made such an impact that she has seen enrollment numbers drop for basic adult education classes, which are taken by students who drop out and then return via the MACC.

“Would we have more drop outs without this program?” she said. “Yes. Without a doubt.”

Home schooling, really?

Credit recovery is certainly one reason why the drop out numbers are declining and grad rates are improving.

But there might be other factors involved.

(Page 3 of 4)

Take home schooling.

As drop-out numbers have decreased, the numbers of parents opting to home-school their children have increased — an increase that began when the minimum age for legally dropping out of school changed in 2006 from 16 to 18.

The MCS graduating class of 2006 had 11 home school transfers and a graduation rate of 68.1 percent; the class of 2009 had 146 home school transfers and a grad rate of 84.5 percent. Are all of the 146 newly students actually being home-schooled? Very doubtful, say state officials and true home school advocates.

Muncie is not alone. You’ll find the recent jumps in home school numbers at other districts as well, including Delaware, Richmond and Anderson.

It turns out you do not have to do much to transfer your kids to home school.

You are required to inform the school of your decision, then asked to fill out an online form for the state.

After that, the district — and the state — have no way of knowing how much home schooling is actually going on.

“Indiana does have a home school registration database,” said Stephanie Sample, communications director of the Indiana Department of Education. “However, since home schooling is not really regulated by Indiana law, it’s a bit difficult to say the numbers we compile are accurate.”

According to the IDOE, home-schooling parents are supposed to keep track of attendance, but this does not have to be submitted unless requested.

“As with any other transfer, the public school’s responsibility ends when the administration of the child’s new school (in this case, the parent) verifies enrollment, either verbally or in writing,” according to the IDOE website.
Knee-jerk reactions

Ben Bennett, who started the Indiana Home Educators Network in 2000, said the number of people contacting him about home schooling has definitely increased over the last few years.

Many of those parents, he said, are what he calls “knee-jerk home schoolers” who are pulling their kids out in desperation because they are fed up with one or a number of issues at the school.

(Page 4 of 4)

But does he believe that all of the students who are reportedly transferring to home school are actually be educated by their parents?

No.

He said that for some it’s a win-win for the school and the parent. The parent no longer has to deal with the child’s difficulties at school — an attendance problem or behavioral issues, perhaps — and the school “gets the kid out of the system and raises its graduation rate.”

McCowan denied that any student or parent would be persuaded by, say, a school counselor to choose a home school transfer as an alternative to dropping out.

“Our administrators do a good job of counseling students to stay in school,” she said.

But the decision, ultimately, is the parent’s.

McCowan did say that it’s the school’s responsibility to stress the importance of getting a high school diploma.

It’s now considered the “baseline” of education. You have to have at least a high school diploma today, she said.

According to a 2010 Gallup poll, 92 percent of students nationwide think they will graduate high school. But the nation’s overall graduation rate is just 70 percent.

Those who land in the credit recovery program in an effort to get them to graduation day, Johnson said, often wish they could go back and talk to freshmen.

“They want to warn them, tell them what not to do so they don’t make the same mistakes,” she said, looking out over the students clicking toward graduation.

One credit at a time.

Contact Michelle Kinsey at 213-5822.

Learning Burnout? How About Schooling Burnout!

Please welcome my friend and SkippingSchool’s guest columnist, Linda Dobson. You can read more of her great work on homeschooling and learning outside the box of public schooling on her blog: Parent at the Helm.

Is Your Child Fired Up – Or Burned Out – On Learning?

By Linda Dobson

I can’t say why, when, or how it happened, but it did. At some point after compulsory schooling began a mere 150 years or so ago, our society accepted it as perfectly normal and natural: Children hate going to school. As if this wasn’t bad enough, the school culture itself enforces the notion with an unwritten rule that those who are smart and/or enjoy classes are geeks, nerds, or just plain weird.

Then there’s that compulsion feature itself, compounded by No Child Left Behind’s focus on test scores. How often does the situation in learning coach Jennifer’s home play out across the nation?

“Three years ago Bethany couldn’t wait to go to kindergarten,” Jennifer remembers, “and she thrived. But within the first few months of first grade her attitude began to change. At first she just complained that she had to go to school, but by third grade she actively fought it.” Exasperated, Jennifer was unsuccessful trying to talk with Bethany, so she turned to the teacher.

“It happens all the time,” the teacher told Jennifer. “She’s burned out.”
Burned Out on Learning

“How does an eight year-old ‘burn out’?” Jennifer asked.

“There are a variety of contributing factors,” the teacher confided. “For some kids, we move too quickly and they can’t keep up. For others, the opposite is true; they get bored and tune out. Some don’t really wake up until after they’ve been in school for hours, while others get distracted while trying to keep childhood energy in check enough to sit still. Some don’t see a purpose, and still others just plain aren’t interested in what I’m talking about. Try as we might it’s impossible to be all things to all children, and we lose some along the way. For what it’s worth,” the teacher added, “Bethany is extremely bright and creative. That’s how we lost her.”

“Lost her?” exclaims Jennifer. “My baby had months to go in this woman’s classroom and she considered her ‘lost’? I don’t think I’ve ever been so angry in my life, and I vowed then and there to change burned out on learning to fired up at home.”

__________
“By the end of their sixth year in school, children whose preschool experiences had been academically directed earned significantly lower grades compared to children who had attended child-initiated preschool classes. Children’s later school success appears to have been enhanced by more active, child-initiated early learning experiences.”
__________

So what did Jennifer do when she didn’t want to lose any more precious family time together to school-related activities? Especially when she was unable to take complete educational responsibility through homeschooling?
Being Your Child’s Learning Coach Can Help!

In the warmth and comfort of home, she became Bethany’s learning coach. Instead of acting as just another in a long string of teachers, drilling the multiplication tables or quizzing her child on a long list of dates related to the Revolutionary War, Jennifer focused on three elements vital to academic success that aren’t addressed in crowded (or even many uncrowded) classrooms.

• One-on-one attention

• Basic learning skills the child may apply to any area of study

• Educational customization based on learning style, innate intelligences, and interests

Researchers, too, are noticing the results of facilitating learning in lieu of teaching. In 2002, the University of North Florida’s Rebecca A. Marcon reported on a comparison between three diverse preschool models. The first was child-initiated, including lots of free exploration of interests. Next was the academically directed approach, focusing on early curriculum material. The third was a “combination” approach. Marcon writes, “By the end of their sixth year in school, children whose preschool experiences had been academically directed earned significantly lower grades compared to children who had attended child-initiated preschool classes. Children’s later school success appears to have been enhanced by more active, child-initiated early learning experiences.”

From The Learning Coach Approach: Inspire, Encourage, and Guide Your Child Toward Greater Success in School and in Life by Linda Dobson

Read Linda’s companion article: “You Can Help Your Child Learn: The Learning Coach Approach” on her blog: ParentAtTheHelm.com. You can also find her books on Amazon.com.
Linda Dobson and family began their homeschooling journey in 1985. They were having so much fun together that she wanted to share news of this educational approach with as many other families as possible. She co-founded a local homeschooling support group that now offers support and learning activities to a growing membership. She helped found and for the first two years served as coordinator of the New York (State) Home Educators’ Network. Upon creation of the National Home Education Network (NHEN) in 1999 she served as its first public relations advisor as a media contact providing reporters, journalists, and researchers with background information and interviews. She was also Homeschool.com’s early years’ advisor.