Legal Requirements

Disclaimer: The following information is provided as a courtesy to homeschooling families in New Hampshire and is not intended as legal advice. The New Hampshire Homeschooling Coalition strongly urges all parents or legal guardians to read and thoroughly understand the text of the home education law (RSA 193-A) and administrative rules (Ed 315) before initiating contact with their participating agency.

Summary of the Legal Requirements for Homeschooling in New Hampshire

RSA 193-A (New Hampshire Home Education law)

Ed315 (Department of Education Administrative Rules)

Ed315 (Department of Education Administrative Rules) This is a direct link to the rules on the New Hampshire general court site. You will have to scroll about halfway down the "page" to reach Ed 315, the home education rules.

RSA 193:1 (Compulsory Attendance Law)

193:1-c Access to Public School Programs by Nonpublic or Home Educated Pupils

Self-Certification of Secondary School Completion

Summary of the Legal Requirements for Homeschooling in New Hampshire

Home education in New Hampshire is governed by RSA 193-A, which went into effect on July 1, 1991. A few changes have been made to the original statute. Under this law, parents or legal guardians who wish to homeschool their child(ren) are required to:

  • Contact a participating agency (in most cases, the local school superintendent or a participating private school) of their intent to homeschool.
  • Keep a portfolio of the homeschooled child's work and log of reading materials
  • Have an annual evaluation demonstrating educational progress commensurate with the child's age and ability. These requirements are explained in more detail below.

Notification

The compulsory attendance law (RSA 193:1), and by extension, the home education law (RSA 193-A), applies to those children who are six years of age (by September 30) and under 18 years of age.

When you start homeschooling, you should send in your letter of notification by the time school starts in your district, and must notify within 5 days of withdrawing a child from school. If a child is withdrawn from a public school after the school year has started, parents should ensure that officials are aware that the child will be homeschooling in order to avoid being charged with truancy. You need to put this in writing and keep a copy.

Although the law states that parents may choose to notify either the commissioner of education, resident district superintendent, or a nonpublic school principal, we strongly recommend that you do not use the Commissioner of Education at the New Hampshire Department of Education (DOE) The Department of Education does not have the resources to handle a large number of homeschoolers. The DOE has returned, for lack of sufficient information, a large number of homeschool evaluations.

Most homeschoolers use their local school district as the participating agency. Many nonpublic schools make themselves available to homeschoolers to use as a participating agency. This private school does not need to be in your area. Typically, nonpublic schools that are willing to act as the participating agency charge a fee for this service, which may or may not include access to the nonpublic school's curriculum, classes or other activities, and/or participation in the school's testing/evaluation programs.

According to RSA 193-A, the letter of notification should include:

  • names, addresses and dates of birth for all children of compulsory attendance age (from 6 years of age, by September 30, and up to 18 years of age) to be homeschooled,
  • names and address of the parents
  • a phone number where the parent can be reached during the day
  • date on which the homeschooling program will start

We have two sample letters of notification that you can take a look at; one is a basic letter, the second has a place for the participating agency to sign and return to you.

To protect your privacy, you may also want to add "All information provided herein is considered privileged and confidential. Any further disclosure of this information requires written parental consent prior to such disclosure."

You only need to send in a letter of notification once for each student. It will be assumed that you are continuing to homeschool each year, and you do not need to notify again unless you change participating agencies or move to another school district. Do note that you need to keep your letter of acknowledgement from the school district or private school (and maybe an extra copy) in a safe place, since you will not be receiving a new letter each year.

If a child is withdrawn from a public school after the school year has started, parents should ensure that officials are aware that the child will be homeschooling in order to avoid being charged with truancy. You need to put this in writing and keep a copy.

The participating agency is required to acknowledge your notification, in writing, within 14 days, assuming it contains the information listed above.

If you decide to end your home education program prior to age 18, written notice should be filed with your participating agency within 15 days of termination of the program.

If your student has finished their high school homeschooling program but is younger than 18, you may certify high school completion with the New Hampshire Department of Education. Send a letter to the Commissioner of Education at the Department of Education. No homeschooling notification or evaluation is required for students enrolled full-time in college (“an accredited post-secondary education program”). We have provided a sample letter.

Portfolio

Parents are required to keep a log of reading materials and a portfolio of the child's work related to the homeschooling program for at least two years after the instruction is completed. The portfolio is the property of the parents; the superintendent cannot require that you submit it to the district for review.

If you plan to use the portfolio method for your evaluation, you will want to include enough samples of your child's work so the evaluator can determine that educational progress has been made. How much is enough? It varies depending on the evaluator, but one or two pages of work in each of the subject areas your child has studied, taken at three different times of the year, is often sufficient to demonstrate progress.

Evaluation

Parents are required to have their child's educational progress evaluated each year, but no longer must submit the results of the evaluation to the participating agency. The child's progress may be evaluated by any of the following methods:

  • evaluation by a certified teacher ( See our list of Evaluators. For a list of states with reciprocal teacher certification with New Hampshire go to http://www.education.nh.gov/certification/documents/interstate_contract.pdf) or a teacher currently teaching in a nonpublic school;
  • national student achievement test, administered by a person who meets the qualifications established by the provider or publisher of the test, OR a state student assessment test used by the resident school district. (See our list of available tests.) A composite score on either test at or above the 40th percentile is considered an acceptable score.
  • Any other valid measurement tool mutually agreed upon by the parent and the commissioner of education, resident district superintendent, or nonpublic school principal. (You must set up this form of evaluation at the time of notification or at the beginning of the school year in your district) If you choose to use an independent evaluator, try to set up the evaluation well before the deadline (July 1). Find out exactly what information the evaluator needs in order to perform the evaluation.

The results of the evaluation, typically no more than one or two pages, do NOT need to be submitted to the participating agency.

You will be keeping this evaluation on file in case there is a question about your homeschooling program. The child needs to demonstrate educational progress at a level commensurate with his ability. An evaluation is not considered complete unless it has a parent's signature, so if you feel your child's evaluation is not accurate, do not sign it. We have posted more information on compiling a Homeschool Portfolio and a Portfolio Evaluation Form that an evaluator can use, if they would like.

Conclusion

It is very important that homeschooling families become thoroughly familiar with the requirements of the law, and that they not submit to any requests other than those required by law. Even if your family doesn't mind complying with requests for information which are beyond the scope of the law, your doing so may make things more difficult for the other homeschooling families (who may have different opinions about what is "reasonable" than you do) who come after you.