FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – A report on homeschooling in Kentucky was the topic during a meeting of the General Assembly’s Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee on Tuesday.
Report author Deborah Nelson, presenting for the Office of Education Accountability, told the panel that enrollment in homeschooling is increasing across the nation and at a faster rate in Kentucky.
An estimated 3.3 percent are homeschooled nationwide, while the number in Kentucky is 3.6 percent.
In 2017, the statewide number stood at more than 26,500.
“Public school officials,” said Nelson, “worry that some families are reporting their children as homeschooled, but are not truly operating a home school.”
The report summarized available data and reviewed the legal requirements for homeschooling in Kentucky, compared to other states.
Nelson said the Kentucky Department of Education considers home schools to be private, unaccredited schools operated by a parent or guardian.
“The Kentucky Constitution protects one’s right to educate a child consistent with conscience. They receive no state support or financial assistance, and because they are not accredited, a diploma does not necessarily have the same legal status as one from an accredited school.”
Nelson said there are numerous reasons families choose homeschooling, such as social, academic, religious, and the flexibility to address the individual needs of the child or family. More recently, homeschooling is seen as a solution for concerns about school safety.
"The Christian Home Educators of Kentucky surveyed members and reported the number one reason for homeschooling was a lack of trust in the information provided by public schools to parents or children," Nelson said.
While information on outcomes for the majority of homeschooled students does not exist, Nelson said, “available data indicates homeschool graduates who enroll in Kentucky colleges, outperform public school graduates, although they enroll in lower percentages.”
She said requirements for home schooled students in Kentucky are higher than some states, while lower than others.
The report, which did not include any recommendations, also found data to support claims that some families may be reporting their children as homeschooled, as a way to avoid legal consequences for public school truancy.
-- State law authorizes the Kentucky Board of Education to play a role in establishing criteria required for attendance and scholarship reports. The board has not proposed regulations for the keeping of scholarship reports.
-- State law requires home schools to keep attendance in a register provided by the Kentucky Department of Education, but the board does not provide such a register.
-- The law allows the Kentucky Department of Education to play a role in inspecting attendance and scholarship reports, but the board currently does not play such a role.
-- The Best Practice Document established in 1997 and updated since then attempts to provide clarity to homeschooling families and public school district. Many public school officials are not aware of the document or are confused about whether it represents the law or suggested practices.
5). By law, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, through the Department of Community Based Services, and local courts have sole authority to determine if a child is being educationally neglected. Currently, guidance and tools to make determinations of educational neglect are made based on the discretion of Department of Community Based Services workers or judges.