West Virginia compulsory school attendance age
Children must attend school or comply with the homeschool laws beginning with their first school year between the ages of 6 (if they turned 6 before September 1), or upon enrolling in a publicly supported kindergarten program, and 17 years. Children in Cabell, Marshall, Monroe, and Wyoming Counties must comply until 18 years.
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 West Virginia 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 West Virginia 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 West Virginia’s homeschool law
In West Virginia, you can choose one of two legal options by which you may homeschool. The first option enables you to homeschool by seeking approval from the local school board. The second option enables you to homeschool by sending a notification to the school board or superintendent.
Homeschooling by seeking school board approval:
If you choose to seek approval from your local school board, you will be required to teach the subjects approved by the school board for 180 days per year. Instruction must be in a place approved by the board and for a time equal to the school term of the county. If requested, you must furnish attendance, instruction, and progress information. The school board may deny approval in writing for “good and reasonable justification.” The board also determines the method of assessment you must use in your homeschool. Although HSLDA does not generally recommend this approach, it may be appropriate for some families. Members, please contact HSLDA for personal assistance in considering this option. To become a member of HSLDA, click here.
Homeschooling by submitting a notice of intent:
Parents may also choose to homeschool by submitting a notice that meets certain requirements to the school board or superintendent. HSLDA recommends this approach because it does not require obtaining permission to homeschool; as long as the notification complies with the law, the child is excused from compulsory attendance.
To homeschool under this option, you must follow these requirements:
1. Ensure that the person providing the home instruction has the required qualification.
The person providing home instruction must have a high school diploma or equivalent, or a post-secondary degree or certificate from a regionally accredited institution.
2. File a notice of intent with your school board or superintendent.
Your notice of intent must include your child’s name, address, and age. You must assure that your child will be instructed in reading, language, mathematics, science, and social studies and assessed annually. You must also provide evidence that the person providing home instruction possesses the required qualification.
The law requires that you submit the notice on or before the date you begin homeschooling.
Your notice of intent is effective until you move to a different county or stop homeschooling.
Here is what to do if the superintendent denies your notice of intent:
The superintendent is not legally permitted to deny your notice of intent. If a superintendent believes a parent’s right to homeschool should be denied, he or she must seek an order from the circuit court, which will only be granted if the superintendent shows evidence that the child will suffer educational neglect.
If you receive any communication from the superintendent or an attendance director that asserts denial of your notice of intent or threatens legal action, HSLDA members should contact us immediately. To become a member of HSLDA, click here.
3. Assess your student annually.
You are required to obtain an assessment each year that you homeschool and to maintain copies of the assessment for three years. You may choose one of four options to assess your child.
One, you may select any nationally normed, standardized achievement test published not more than 10 years previously. The test must be administered by someone qualified according to the test publisher and according to the instructions of the test publisher. The test must cover reading, language, mathematics, science, and social studies. A child who scores in the 4th stanine (23rd percentile) or higher, or whose score has improved since the previous year’s assessment results, is considered to have made “acceptable progress” under the law.
Two, you may choose to participate in the public school testing program. Acceptable progress will be based on the state testing program guidelines.
Three, you may obtain a written narrative that indicates a certified teacher has reviewed a portfolio of your child’s work and determined that the child’s academic progress for the year is in accordance with the child’s abilities. The narrative must include a statement about progress in the areas of reading, language, math, science, and social studies and note, if any, which areas show need for improvement or remediation.
Four, if the superintendent agrees, the child may complete any alternative academic assessment of proficiency. Acceptable progress will be determined by agreement between the superintendent and the parents.
Here is what will happen if your child does not demonstrate acceptable progress:
If assessment under one of the options above does not show acceptable progress, you may request the county to notify you in writing of available services to assess your child’s special education eligibility. You are required to initiate a remedial program. The remedial program does not need to be submitted to or approved by the school district, but it must foster acceptable progress. Members of HSLDA may contact us for further advice if they have any concerns about their child meeting acceptable progress standards.
4. Submit certain assessments.
You must submit the results of the assessment for your child for 3rd, 5th, 8th, and 11th grades to the county superintendent by June 30 of those years.
The importance of recordkeeping
You can find West Virginia’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.