Vermont compulsory school attendance age
You must enroll your child in school from the day he or she turns 6 years old, until he or she turns 16.
If your child has not yet turned 16, but has completed 10th grade, or is enrolled in and attending a postsecondary school that is approved or accredited in Vermont or another state, your child is not subject to compulsory school attendance requirements.
HSLDA believes that a parent-issued diploma and transcript should be sufficient to demonstrate that a child has completed a secondary education. However, even if your child is beyond compulsory school attendance age, there may be situations where you would want to continue to follow the requirements of a home education option recognized under Vermont law until your child graduates from high school (filing a home education notice, keeping attendance and other records, etc.). These records may be requested in some situations, such as obtaining a driver’s license if your child is a minor, enlisting in the military, applying to colleges, or demonstrating eligibility for Social Security benefits. If you are a member of HSLDA and would like additional details, please contact us.
Withdrawing your child from his or her current school
If you want to start homeschooling during the school year and your child is currently enrolled in a public or private school, HSLDA recommends that you formally withdraw your child from that school. If you are going to start homeschooling after the school year is over, and your child is considered enrolled for the following year, we recommend that you withdraw your child before the next school year begins, so that the school does not mark your child as absent or truant.
We invite you to become a member of HSLDA to receive specific advice about withdrawing your child from school and starting to homeschool. Local schools may have specific forms or withdrawal procedures. HSLDA members are eligible to receive individualized advice about whether complying with those procedures is advisable or required. HSLDA members can also use the sample letter of withdrawal for Vermont available in Member Resources to correspond with school officials.
We generally recommend that any correspondence with authorities be sent by “Certified Mail—Return Receipt Requested.” Keep copies of the withdrawal letter and any other paperwork or correspondence, and any green postal receipts, for your personal records.
Note: If your child has never attended a public or private school, this section does not apply.
Complying with Vermont’s homeschool law
Vermont law specifically refers to homeschooling in 16 V.S.A. § 11(a)(21) and 16 V.S.A. § 166b. To homeschool under this statute, you’ll need to follow these guidelines.
1. Send a written enrollment notice.
You must annually send a written enrollment notice to the commissioner of education for each child. The notice must include:
- the name and age, by year and month, of each child;
- the names, mailing addresses, towns of legal residence, and phone numbers of the parents or guardians;
- an assessment of progress for each child enrolled in homeschooling the previous year;
- “independent professional evidence on whether the child has a disability” for each child not previously enrolled in a Vermont public school or Vermont home study program;
- the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and signatures of all persons providing ongoing instruction in any required subject other than physical education, health, and fine arts; and
- the signatures of all custodial parents or guardians who are legally authorized to make educational decisions for the students.
2. Submit a narrative.
You must also submit a “narrative,” which is a detailed outline describing the content to be provided in each subject area. If your child has a disability, include in the outline any special services or adaptations to accommodate the disability.
The narrative is not required if you have already completed two consecutive successful years of homeschooling in Vermont, unless your child is 12 years old at the time the enrollment is filed.
3. Obtain acknowledgement of compliance.
You will receive an acknowledgement of compliance from the commissioner upon receipt of your notice of homeschooling. The acknowledgement will state that your child may be enrolled in homeschooling immediately or within 45 days after receipt of your notice.
It is possible that the commissioner will order a hearing during the 45-day period. If so, HSLDA members should contact us for help.
4. Teach the required subjects.
You must teach the following subjects in your homeschool:
- basic communication skills, including reading, writing, and the use of numbers,
- citizenship, history, and government in Vermont and the United States,
- physical education and comprehensive health education, including the effects of tobacco, alcoholic drinks, and drugs on the human system and on society,
- English, American, and other literature,
- the natural sciences, and
- the fine arts.
5. Assess your child annually.
You must submit an annual assessment to the commissioner when you file paperwork for your next school year. The assessment may be by any one of the following methods:
- A Vermont certified teacher may write a report in a form designated by the commissioner.
- Parents, the student’s instructor, or a teacher advisory service (from a publisher of commercial curriculum) can prepare a report. With the report, you will need to include a portfolio of the student’s work, including work samples, to demonstrate progress in each subject area in the minimum course of study. The portfolio does not need to include physical education, health, or fine arts for children over 12.
- Parents may provide the complete results of a standardized achievement test approved by the commissioner, administered in a manner approved by the testing company, and scored in accordance with the law. If the test does not cover all the subjects required by law, the commissioner may request a portfolio and report on those subjects.
The importance of recordkeeping
You can find Vermont’s specific recordkeeping requirements, if any, above. Regardless of what state you live in, HSLDA recommends that you keep detailed records of your homeschool program. These records may be helpful if you face an investigation regarding your homeschooling or your student needs to furnish proof of education.