General overview of the homeschooling laws in Tennessee
Tennessee’s compulsory attendance first passed legislation in 1905 and was expanded in 1913. The law requires parents of children ages eight (8) to fourteen (14) to be sent to school. Those who are fifteen (15) to sixteen (16) years of age, if illiterate or unemployed, are also required to be sent to school.
The Tennessee Home Education Association (THEA) started during the mid-1980s and the state homeschool law § 49-6-3050 was first enacted in 1985 signed by then-Governor Lamar Alexander.
Due to the constant amendment of § 49-6-3050 of the state homeschool law, it was declared as “One of the most complex laws in the nation” by 2012. The said law defines a home school as (a) a church-related school defined in § 49-50-801, (b) a home school defined in § 49-6-3050, or (c) a private school accredited or which has been approved by the state.
Notification of Intent to homeschool in Tennessee
Parents who want to homeschool their children in the state of Tennessee must file a Notification of Intent prior to the start of every school year. Parents must also attach documents that show the homeschool location, the population of students, their names, ages and grade levels.
Parents are also required to attach the proposed curriculum and proposed hours of instruction to their Notification of Intent form. The NOI form can be downloaded from the websites of The State of Tennessee Department of Education and the Local Education Agency (LEA) office for free. Children may also be required by the state to take standardized examinations.
Qualifications required to homeschool in Tennessee
According to § 49-6-3050, a homeschool teacher must possess at least a high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) certificate to be qualified to teach homeschool students in the state of Tennessee. Homeschool teachers must also administer the Local Education Agency’s annual standardized achievement test to their students.
Number of days/hours of instruction required for homeschoolers in Tennessee
Homeschool teachers are required to have students attend the same number of days required by state law for the public school students which are 4 hours per day (equivalent to 180 days per school year). § 49-6-3005 of the homeschool law applies to classes of children from ages six (6) to seventeen (17) years.
What subjects need to be covered in Home Education (and for how long) in Tennessee?
There are no particular subjects required. Subjects in Home Education will depend on the proposed curriculum submitted by the parents when they submit their Notification of Intent (NOI). There are also no limitations on how long the subjects have to be covered.
It may depend on the personal circumstances of the student. However, the Tennessee Academic Standards states that Math, English Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies are core subjects. The curriculum must provide and support the student’s mastery of these subjects.
The Local Education Agency (LEA) makes sure that the Tennessee Academic Standards are upheld. An intervention process may be implemented for those students who fall behind in the core subjects and fails the annual standardized achievement test.
The Director of Schools may require students who failed to be enrolled in a public, private or church-related school, provided that the student has no learning disability, instead.
What are the recordkeeping requirements for homeschoolers in Tennessee?
In an independent homeschool, the parent-teacher must maintain an attendance record and other records that may be required by the LEA. These records must always be available for inspection at any time. Submission of records to the Director of Schools at the end of each school year is mandatory.
Here’s a short video about what you need for homeschooling in Tennesse:
For those who have students enrolled in an umbrella program, record keeping and test requirements will be determined by the church-related school.
Is part-time enrollment permitted in Tennessee?
Yes, part-time enrollment is allowed at the district’s discretion in Tennessee.
Are homeschoolers permitted to participate in extracurricular activities in Tennessee?
Yes, it was settled in 2015 that homeschool students are permitted to participate in extracurricular activities in the state of Tennessee. Homeschool students can even compete with public-school teams in different sports and competitions as long as they are registered with the Local Board of Education.