State Law: North Dakota

North Dakota compulsory school attendance age

Your child must attend school between the ages of 7 and 16 years. This requirement does not apply after your child has completed high school.

Your child may also be excused from attending school if a multidisciplinary team that includes your child’s parent, school district superintendent, classroom teacher, and physician and the director of your child’s special education unit determines that your child has a disability that renders attendance or participation in a regular or special education program “inexpedient or impracticable.”

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 North Dakota 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 North Dakota 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 North Dakota’s homeschool law

In North Dakota, you may teach your children at home by following the “home education” law. Or, if you are a state-certified teacher, you may homeschool under the “private school” option. Choose the option under which you want to homeschool, and then follow the steps listed below it:

Option 1: Homeschooling under the home education law:

1. Ensure that you have the required teacher qualifications. 

You must be a parent of the child you are homeschooling, and you must have a high school diploma or a GED to supervise the child’s home education unless you are monitored by a North Dakota certified teacher as described below.

Here is what to do if you do not have a high school diploma or GED:
If you do not have a high school diploma or a GED, you may supervise your child’s home education if you are “monitored” by a certified teacher for your first two years of homeschooling. If, during the monitoring period, your child’s basic composite score on the required standardized test falls below the 50th percentile, you must be monitored for at least one additional school year. Monitoring must continue until your child achieves a test score at or above the 50th percentile. If you successfully complete the monitoring requirement for one child, you do not have to be monitored again before you may homeschool additional children.

2. File a yearly statement of intent. 

At least 14 days before you start homeschooling, or within 14 days of moving into a North Dakota school district, and once every year thereafter, you must file a statement of intent to homeschool. You must file your statement of intent with the superintendent of the public school district where your child lives. If there is no district superintendent, you must file with the county superintendent. Your statement of intent must include:

  1. the name and address of your child;
  2. your child’s date of birth;
  3. your child’s grade level;
  4. the name and address of the parent who will supervise the home education;
  5. the qualifications of the parent who will supervise the home education;
  6. any public school courses in which your child intends to participate;
  7. any extracurricular activities in which your child intends to participate and the school district or approved nonpublic school offering the activities;
  8. a copy of your child’s immunization record (you may use the North Dakota Department of Health’s certificate of immunization form if you wish); and
  9. proof of your child’s identity (“proof of identity” means a certified copy of a birth certificate, a certified transcript, or similar student records from your child’s previous school, or any other documentary evidence the superintendent considers appropriate proof of identity).

If you are an HSLDA member, use the statement of intent form on our website. Mail your statement of intent via certified mail (return receipt requested) to the local superintendent. Save a copy of the statement of intent and the return receipt in your child’s school records.

3. Provide the required days and hours of instruction. 

Your child must receive at least four hours of instruction per school day for a minimum of 175 days each year.

4. Teach the required subjects. 

Your home education program must include instruction in the subjects that are required to be taught in North Dakota public schools. These subjects are listed below.

Required elementary and middle school subjects:

  • English language arts, including reading, composition, creative writing, English grammar, and spelling;
  • mathematics;
  • social studies, including the United States Constitution, United States history, geography, and government, and, in the 4th and 8th grades, North Dakota studies, with an emphasis on the geography, history, and agriculture of North Dakota;
  • science, including agriculture;
  • physical education; and
  • health, including physiology, hygiene, disease control, and the nature and effects of alcohol, tobacco, and narcotics.

Required high school subjects:

  • English language arts (includes literature, composition, and speech);
  • mathematics;
  • science (includes biology and chemistry or physical science);
  • social studies (includes U.S. history, civics, economics, and concepts of personal finance);
  • physical education; and
  • foreign languages or fine arts or career and technical education.

5. Keep school records. 

You must keep a yearly record of the courses your child has taken and your child’s academic progress assessments, including any standardized achievement test scores.

6. Have your child tested if applicable. 

While in grades 4, 6, 8, and 10, your child must take a standardized achievement test used by the local school district or a nationally normed standardized achievement test unless one of the following exemptions applies: (1) you notify your school district that you have a philosophical, moral, or religious objection to the use of standardized achievement tests or (2) you are a licensed teacher, hold a bachelor’s degree, or have met the cutoff score of a national teacher examination. To claim one of these exemptions to the testing requirement, you must notify your school district when you file your annual statement of intent.

If your child must take a standardized achievement test, the test must be administered in your child’s “learning environment,” or in a public school if you request this location instead. A North Dakota certified teacher must administer the test. You must submit your child’s test scores to the local superintendent.

Here is what will happen if your child’s basic composite score is below the 30th percentile: A multidisciplinary assessment team must assess your child for a potential learning disability.

If the assessment team determines that your child is not disabled, you must work with a North Dakota certified teacher to prepare a “remediation plan” to address your child’s academic deficiencies. The plan must stay in effect until your child achieves: (1) a basic composite score at or above the 30th percentile; or (2) a score that, when compared with the previous year’s test score, shows that your child accomplished one year of academic progress.

If the assessment team determines that your child has a disability that requires special educational services, you must obtain a “services plan” that shows your child’s special needs are being addressed by qualified persons. This plan may be developed privately or through the school district.

You must file with the local superintendent a copy of your child’s remediation plan or services plan.

7. If your child has a developmental disability, follow these requirements instead of the above. 

If a licensed psychologist has determined that your child has a developmental disability, you may homeschool your child by filing with the local superintendent:

  • a notice that your child will receive home education;
  • a copy of your child’s diagnosis;
  • a services plan developed by the school district or a substitute services plan developed privately; and
  • on or before November 1, February 1, and May 1, a progress report prepared by the services plan team.

The importance of recordkeeping

You can find North Dakota’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.