Washington compulsory school attendance age
Children between the ages of 8 and 18 years must attend school or comply with the homeschool laws .
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 Washington 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 Washington 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 Washington’s homeschool law
Washington provides two legal options under which parents may homeschool. After choosing the option you wish to use, follow the steps listed below it.
Option 1: Homeschooling under the homeschool statute:
1. Meet the teacher qualifications.
You must be qualified to operate a homeschool program by either:
- instructing only your child and being supervised by a certificated person (i.e., the certificated person and the parent together plan the educational objectives; the certificated person has a minimum average of one contact hour per week with the child; and the certificated person evaluates the child’s progress); or
- instructing only your child and having either 45 college quarter credits or the equivalent in semester credits (approximately 30 semester credits, since one quarter credit equals two-thirds of a semester credit); or
- instructing only your child and having completed a course in home-based education at a postsecondary institution or a vocational-technical institute (these courses generally do not require an extensive time commitment); or
- instructing only your child and being “deemed sufficiently qualified to provide home-based instruction by the superintendent of the local school district.”
2. File a notice of intent.
You must annually file a signed declaration of intent to homeschool by September 15 or within two weeks of the beginning of any public school quarter, trimester, or semester. File with the local superintendent or with the superintendent of a nonresident district that accepts the homeschool student as a transfer student. The declaration must include the name and age of your child, specify whether a certificated person will be supervising the instruction, and be written in a format prescribed by the superintendent of public instruction. HSLDA has a declaration of intent form available for our members’ use here.
3. Teach for the required number of days.
You must teach 180 days per year, or average 1,000 hours per year.
4. Teach the required subjects.
Your homeschool curriculum must include occupational education, science, math, language, social studies, history, health, reading, writing, spelling, and the development of an appreciation of art and music.
5. Conduct an annual assessment.
You have two options for the required annual assessments. The results of the assessment do not need to be submitted to the public schools, but must be retained as part of your child’s permanent school record.
The assessment options are:
- Ensure that a standardized test approved by the state board is administered annually to your child by a “qualified” person (i.e. anyone qualified by the test publisher to administer the test), or
- Have your child evaluated by a certificated person.
Option 2: Homeschooling with a private or denominational school:
1. Enroll as an extension program of an approved private school.
Approved private schools are permitted to allow families to operate their homeschools as extension programs of the school. You will need to locate an approved private school that allows extension programs and enroll your child in that school. A list of approved private schools is available here. The best way to determine if a school accepts extension students is to visit the school’s website or contact the school directly.
2. Comply with the private school’s requirements for its extension programs.
The importance of recordkeeping
You can find Washington’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.