Washington State's Homeschool Law


~ as presented and explained by Barb Shelton ~


What I present here is a basic overview of the homeschool law in Washington state, not a comprehensive, verbatim duplicate of it. But this should suffice for the needs of the general public. 

For a copy of the booklet issued by the Superintendent of Public Instruction in Olympia, you can write to: SPI/Old Capitol Bldg.; FG-11, Olympia, WA 98504 and ask for the free booklet on the Homeschool Law. This booklet is written in question-and-answer form rather than being an actual documentation of the law itself. I found it to be rather confusing as it goes beyond homeschooling issues and gets into private school issues, mixing them together in one booklet which makes it hard to tell where one area leaves off and the other starts. That's why I wrote this info sheet.

Before we delve into the law, it is vital to first grapple with the issue of "qualifying to homeschool."  Please refer to the article in this section entitled "Obeying the Law, Testing, and Qualifying to Homeschool."  With (and only with those thoughts in mind as your foundation, here are the basics of the Washington State Homeschool Law:  (Anything specifically relating to the law is in Italics and bold.)
Under Wash's Homeschool Law, the instructional activities must be provided by a parent who is instructing his or her children only and qualifies in one of these 4 ways:

1 - be supervised by a certificated teacher for one contact hour per week, OR...
2 - have earned 45 college-level credit hours or 1 year of college, OR...
3 -be deemed sufficiently qualified to homeschool by the superintendent of the school district in which you reside, OR...
4 - have completed a course in home-based instruction at a post-secondary institution or vocational-technical school.
(Note: you do not need such a course to "qualify" ~ according to the state ~ if you already qualify in one of the first three ways. If you do not "qualify" by having completed one year of college, then a "home-based instruction course is probably your best option, although I personally believe that every homeschooling parent ~ college or no college ~ puts themselves and their families a great advantage by putting themselves through a homeschool course.  


Now, of course, "qualifying" by any of the above four means is assuming you have a conviction to "qualify" at all. And I am not saying that you should.  My above-mentioned "Obeying the Law" article presents my entire perspective (or at least a good chunk of it; there's always more to say) and was written to help parents grapple with this whole area from a godly and biblical perspective.  Two more thoughts on this:
I (Barb Shelton) offer a homeschool course that I call a "Season of Re-Education and Renewing of the Mind" which is done by correspondence. Please click here for an introduction to and overview of it.  (Yes, this course does fulfill Washington state's requirements for a homeschool course.)
Here is a complete list of the homeschool courses offered in Washington State.  (Please be aware that many of these courses lean more toward the "school at home" approach, so I make no recommendations of such, other than my own, and here's an
Intro to my (Barb Shelton's) Course; which I unabashedly recommend, considering you're at my website.)  
According to the WA Homeschool Law, the responsibilities of the homeschooling parents are:
1 - to file annually a signed "Declaration of Intent" to homeschool for any children between 8 and 18.  You may obtain this form:


a)  from the school district in which you reside. Unless you're pretty gutsy, I'd just call ~ rather than go into ~ the Superintendent's office and ask them to just mail you the form. If they tell you that you need to come there to pick it up, say "I'd really appreciate it if you'd just mail it, thank you." And if they still insist, tell them that the law does not state you are required to go in to the office and there's no reason for you to do so. "I am homeschooling my children and do not need to make an extra trip. If you want me to fill out [your] form, please be so kind as to send it to me."  This worked for me.


b) from the WHO (Washington Homeschool Organization) website: here or here is the full URL: http://www.washhomeschool.org/homeschooling/Declaration.pdf


On it you give your name and address, the children's names, and ages. Check (with a checkmark) the statement about having a certified teacher over you only if you are doing so, otherwise just leave it blank. (And if you're not, that's totally fine.  They don't really explain anything about that on there, but should, as it can be confusing.)  If the form requires any further information or that you provide them with curriculum, lesson plans, etc., you are not required to do so under Wash. State's Homeschool Law. (If you get into a sticky situation over this, please email me.)
2 - You are also required to have your child either tested or assessed annually. If you opt for testing, it is to be done with a standardized achievement test approved by the State Board of Education (listed on the back page of the booklet on the law, the SAT and CAT are two of them.) and "administered by a qualified individual."  The other option is to have your child's academic progress assessed by a "certificated person who is currently working in the field of education."  No additional specifics are given on how the assessment is to be administered.
3 - The other requirement is to ensure that test or assessment records and immunization records are kept in the child's permanent record ~ which is to be kept in your possession until such time as you would transfer the child to a public school.. So, if a school asks for any test scores before then, you are not required by law to do so. Quoting from the Law:
"If it is determined that the child is not making reasonable progress consistent with his or her age or stage of development, the parent shall make a good-faith effort to remedy any deficiency."   (yes, actual wording of the law.) Therefore, no action against the parents is mandated in the law if the child does not "measure up." No power is given to either the police agencies, school district, or child protective services to either force you to place your child back in regular school or to take your child away from you. (Even if a state law did mandate this, it would be in direct violation of the higher law of our land, the U.S. Constitution. See my "Obeying the Law" article.)  I mention this because many homeschoolers do not know the law and live in fear of what "authorities" might do if their children do not score high enough on tests.
According to the law, to be considered home-based instruction, it "must consist of planned and supervised instructional and related educational activities including curriculum and instruction in the basic skills, (occupational education, science, mathematics, language, social studies, history, health, reading, writing, spelling, and the development of an appreciation of art and music) and it must be provided for a number of hours equivalent to the total annual program hours per grade level established for approved private schools," which vary per grade level and are listed in the booklet. This requirement can be intimidating to homeschoolers as it can seem that we are required to do formal school for 4 to 6 hours a day. This needn't be fear-inducing or intimidating. As parents, we are teaching by precept and example all day long. Plus, here is an additional quote directly from the law that is not mentioned in the booklet, but is stated in the statute itself: "The legislature recognizes that home-based instruction is less structured and more experiential than the instruction normally provided in a classroom setting. Therefore, the provisions of subsection (4) of the section relating to the nature and quantity of instructional and related educational activities shall be liberally construed."
Another point to consider is that in the tutorial setting, material is learned much more quickly due to the ability to teach at the child's own pace. Therefore, a homeschooled child may be able to learn "equivalent" to a regular-schooled child in one-third the time! In our own family, we did an average of maybe 1 hour of formal, academic "school" a day, when they were younger, and our children still tested at and above their grade level. So the remainder of our "required hours" are/were spent in the more creative subjects. (Note: Once our two oldest entered the high school arena, they then spent considerably more time in "formal academics" as they were then on a time-based system of credits; though they still enjoyed a great deal of freedom within that system, filling those hours as we saw fit. See my book entitled Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+U+la for complete how-to's for my method and approach. It's the first item on this page.)



Q's 'n A's

Expert Chris Elliott Answers Your Questions Live May 3 On Facebook


Q: Wasn't there a new addition to Washington's homeschool law, about how they work it once a child under age 8 has been put in school?
A: by Janice Hedin (elcamino@halcyon.com)  "Actually there was no impact on our homeschool law. What happened is now, when a child who is 6 or 7 enrolls in the public schools parents can't just pull them out with out officially withdrawing them. It use to be that if a parent wanted to bring a child home that was under age 8, they could just do it. Now they have to officially withdraw them. Keep in mind though, that the parent does not declare until age 8. Once out of school, then the compulsory attendance laws goes back to what it was. In other words, once the child is age 8 the parent will have to decide whether the child will be homeschooled, private schooled or public schooled.
      There is information about this on the WHO website, www.WashHomeschool.org. Click on "Homeschooling" then click on "Law". This new law is RCW28A.225.015.





Q: How much detail does a parent need to provide in the way of lesson plans?


A: None in Washington State.




Q: What if we just don't finish something or the student doesn't show progress in an area?


A: All the law states is that we (the parents) are to make a "good faith effort to remedy the situation."  We aren't accountable to anyone. School officials aren't too happy about that, but it's totally right! Why should the schools, which have produced our country's six million functional illiterates and whose students average 20 points below homeschoolers have anything to say to homeschoolers or be their authority?




Q: My son is 13 and has exceptional science, math, and reading abilities but writes at a remedial level. I have no desire to try to recreate school at home.


A:  I totally agree!  And there's no need to do so (recreate school at home) as it is pointless.  And if our law were to change to require that, I would not be able to comply.  (See the above-mentioned "Obeying the Law" article for an in-depth explanation of why.)  You'd probably also enjoy many other articles at my Article Chart, especially ones in the "Legal, Testing, & Government Issues" section about half-way down the page.  As for the "why not re-create school at home" matter, please see the REST of my Article Chart!  Corporately, you will begin to see "why."




Q: How do the Washington rules and regulations affect your family?


A: Very little. The most it's going to affect anyone is in the taking of a homeschool course, if they don't have a year of college. I offer such a course called a "Season of Re-education and Renewing of the Mind." My personal feeling is that they should take a course (preferably mine ) anyway, *especially* if they have college!    Other than that, homeschoolers aren't connected or subject to the state or school system unless they choose that option ~ which is only one of four ~ see that page on WA's homeschool law that I referred you to above. Even the test or assessment isn't turned in to anyone ~ until such time as they would be put (back) in to a public school. WE keep it in "the child's permanent record" ~ which WE have in our possession until we would choose to put them into school.





Q: What agency oversees homeschooling families?


A:  No one oversees homeschoolers *unless* that option (of four options in WA state) is chosen as a way to qualify to homeschool. But most parents choose the option of either having a year of college *or* of taking a course in home-based instruction, one of which I offer. Just as those who are school officials are in charge of the school district they are employed by, so are the parents in charge of their own children's educations. The state of WA (correctly) recognizes that, under God and the U.S. Constitution, this responsibility falls on the parents, not on the school system.

The other two options are to either have the Supt. of the school district in which you live deem you qualified (which both homeschoolers and Supt's avoid; I have yet to hear of anyone who has done this) or to have a teacher over you for one hour a week. (A few do this.)

So the only *required* connection between homeschooling parents, and the school district, no matter which of the four options (to "qualify" to homeschool is chosen), is that we fill out and submit a "Declaration of Intent to Homeschool" form to them each year. This is not an "application" in which we are requesting permission to homeschool, or asking them to approve us or our homeschool, but we are simply *notifying* them that we will ~ "declaring our intent" to ~ homeschool our children.







Q:  What if at some point I feel my right to homeschool is being challenged or infringed upon?


A:  Contact the Rutherford Institute at 804-978-3888.







Q:  Is there any law against my mom having a job and homeschooling me? 

A: Nope!  Not in Washington!       You are still the parent who is "causing his or her child to be homeschooled."








   Q:  Is there a state homeschool organization where I can get more info on Washington's Homeschool Law?


A:  Yes.  You can go to the W.H.O. (Washington Homeschool Organization) website by clicking here.  (However, you will no longer be at this website, so, to return here, you will need to click your "BACK" button until you are at this page again.)  And click HERE for their own set of Q's and A's regarding filing a Declaration of Intent.











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