Monthly Archives: April 2008

Sample Letter of Notification of Intention to Home Educate by Sue Duncan










D.O.B. (Child’s Date of Birth)

School District of Residence

Dear (Supt.):

This letter is to notify you that I will be home educating my child(ren), above-named, for the school year, 2001 – 2002. [If you are notifying midyear: for the remainder of the school year, 2001-2002.]

Be advised that I am a high-school graduate. I assure you that I will provide a minimum of 900 hours of education in the following topics: language arts, reading, spelling, writing, geography, history of the United States and Ohio, national, state and local government, mathematics, science, health, physical education, fine arts, including music; and first aid, safety & fire prevention, except that home education shall not be required to include any concept, topic, or practice that is in conflict with my sincerely-held religious beliefs.

Attached is a brief outline of our intended curriculum and a list of resources, and materials that I intend to use for our home education program. Such outline and list are provided for informational purposes only.

I affirm the information provided herein by my signature below.

Thank you for your courtesy and time. I look forward to receiving an excuse from compulsory attendance for the purpose of home education.


(Your Signature)

Home Education Notification —Points to Remember by Sue Duncan

1. Complete and sign Home Education Notification FORM or LETTER.

2. Remember to attach a brief (short in duration or length) outline of your intended curriculum (#6) and a list of the resources, materials that you intend to use (#7). Attach a separate curriculum outline and resource list for each child.

3. It is recommended that you do not supply your telephone number, which is optional. Should your school districtwish to contact you, they can do so in writing. In fact, if they do call you, you may simply request that they communicate with you in writing; this will provide you with a written record of their contact/s as well as allow you time to consider what they are asking for, seek guidance from a homeschool support group or advocate, and respond appropriately. Often school districts request information to which they are not entitled. If you are unsure,contact a homeschooling group or advocate – not the school district – and obtain reliable information.

4. It is recommended that you DO NOT USE FORMS SUPPLIED BY THE SCHOOL DISTRICT. They may contain additions, deletions or changes which significantly alter the requirements of the homeschooling regulations. Minimal compliance is what you strive for; that is, supplying nothing more nor less than is required under the home educ. Code.

5. It is suggested that only ONE parent sign the form or letter of intent. It is not necessary that each parent do so; in fact, it is desirable that only one parent take on this obligation though it is understood that in a two-parent family both parents would be responsible for the child/ren. The signature of both parents may bias school districts against single- parent home educators. Further, the regulations only call for the signature of one parent.

6. Send your notification of intention to home educate via CERTIFIED MAIL, RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED or hand-deliver it to the supt’s office only of your school district of residence. You are required by the home education regulations to communicate with your supt, not his designee – no matter what the district may state. If you hand- deliver, please obtain both the signature of the person receiving the info and the current date. The DATE of receipt in the supt’s office is important since he is required by law to respond to your notification IN WRITING (not by phone, attendance officer, or other means) within 14 calendar days of receipt. Further, this will protect you in case of loss in the postal system or in the superintendent’s office.

7. Keep COPIES of all your notification information and all communications with your school district. These are legal documents.

8. It is NOT necessary nor is it recommended that you appear for any conferences, sit-downs, allow any home visits, etc. You are not required to notify your school principal if you decide to homeschool, nor is it recommended that you have any communications, conversations or discussions with public officials about your decision. Under NO circumstances are your required to justify the exercise of your right to provide for the education of your child/ren. The right to homeschool is protected by U.S. and Ohio constitutional law and specifically safeguarded by the home education regulations.

9. Under Ohio regulations, you cannot be denied the right to homeschool the first year as long as you fully comply with the notification procedure.

10. The superintendent is required by the regulations to respond IN WRITING within 14 calendar (not business) days of receipt of your notification, stating that your documents are in order and therefore you are “in compliance” with the home education regulations; a notice of compliance should be your “excuse from compulsory attendance.” The supt. must notify you in writing of the specific respect in which the information required is missing. Missing information is that which is clearly stated as being required in the regulations. Examples: child’s date of birth not included, or curriculum outline is not attached. You are given 14 days in which to supply this information, either in writing or by arranging a conference with the supt. Unsupplied, required information places you in “non-compliance” and without an excuse from compulsory attendance. The supt. may not request additional information. Should this happen, please contact a homeschool group or advocate, NOT the supt’s office, to assist you. Examples of additional information include grade level, list of textbooks (this is an option, but not required), photocopies of tables of content, parental educational background beyond high school, copies of diplomas, letters from psychologists, etc

11. If you have any questions, please do NOT contact your school district. They are not homeschoolers and are not conversant with the current regulations. There are several homeschooling groups in the area with people of many years’ experience and expertise in answering questions, dealing appropriately and successfully with the school districts and in understanding the home education regulations and homeschooling in our community.

Notification and Due Process Time Line by Sue Duncan

1. Make a decision to home educate.

2. Fill out “official” notification form or notify by letter of your intention to home educate, providing all required data.

3. Send notification via Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested (or hand-deliver) to superintendent as follows:

(a) supt. of school district of residence if you live in a City, or Exempted Village;

(b) supt of county of residence if you live in a “local” school district, e.g., Kings Local School District.

4. Count 14 days, including weekends, from date of the receipt of postal return receipt in supt’s office, or from dateof hand-delivery to superintendent’s office. (Obtain signature/date of person receiving if you hand-deliver.)

5. 14 days – check for written communication from superintendent as follows – only ONE will apply:

(a) Receipt of letter stating your notification is in compliance – excuse from compulsory attendance letter – Great!


(b) None – if past 14 days – you are excused despite no receipt of letter from supt’s office. Request your excuse from the superintendent. It is his statutory obligation to respond to your notification within 14 days.


(c) You have received a letter stating that your notification is insufficient in some regard and requesting that you supply missing information. (This is non-compliance and you are not excused if the information requested is missing and not additional information. If unsure, check with a homeschool support group or advocate.) You have 14 days to supply this missing information via letter or conference with the superintendent.

Only ONE will apply:

(i) if you supply this missing information within 14 days, you should expect a letter of compliance/excuse

from the supt’s office within 14 days of the receipt of your supplied missing info by his office. (Start

the 14-day compliance calendar again. (See Items 4 – 5(a) and (b) )


(ii) if you do not supply this missing information in 14 days – you are non-compliant and you will not receive

an excuse from compulsory attendance; may be in violation of compulsory attendance laws.


(iii) you supplied the missing information, but superintendent communicates his intention to deny you an excuse.

Proceed from this point ONLY if you have received a letter from your superintendent stating that you are non-compliant

and he announces his intention to deny you an excuse from compulsory attendance.

6. If the parent has provided the missing information, but superintendent announces his intention to deny an excuse

(a) parent must be notified within 14 days of the reason for such denial and his/her right to a due process hearing

before the superintendent;

(i) after the due process hearing – superintendent will grant the excuse from compulsory attendance;


(ii) after the due process hearing – superintendent will deny the excuse from compulsory attendance.

(1) must advise parent of right to appeal this denial to a Juvenile Court Judge within 10 days; and

(2) must advise parent that he/she may be in violation of compulsory attendance law (ORC 3321.03 and .04)


(b) parent may not request due process hearing and discontinue pursuit of excuse from compulsory attendance for children; child/ren must be placed in educational option other than home education.

7. If parent pursues the case to a Juvenile Court Judge:

(a) Juv. Ct. Judge grants the excuse from compulsory attendance – parent will receive an excuse from compulsory attendance for the remainder of the school year and must comply with all further requirements, such as assessment.


(b) Juv. Ct. Judge denies the excuse from compulsory attendance – parent will NOT receive an excuse from compulsory attendance; parent will not be permitted to home educate.

Rev. 02/01 – SM Duncan – Do not reprint without permission.

The Compulsory Age Cutoff for 6 y/o and Homeschooling Kindergarten by Sue Duncan

The compulsory attendance laws require that your district superintendent be notified where all children between the ages of 6 years old and 18 years old are being “educated.” This is the COMPULSORY SCHOOL AGE in Ohio.

If you have a child who will be 6 years old by September 30th, you may be required by your school district to file a notification of intention to home educate for that child – or enroll that child in the public/private system. For other districts, the child must be six years old by August 1st in order for you to file or enroll.

CHECK WITH YOUR SCHOOL DISTRICT OF RESIDENCE REGARDING THEIR COMPULSORY SCHOOL AGE CUT-OFF DATE FOR SIX-YEAR OLDS. (It is not necessary to have any conversation with your district other than to inquire regarding the compulsory school age date for 6 year olds.)

Why is this important?

If your district’s cutoff date is August 1st – and your child turns 6 on August 15th – you will NOT need to file your notification of intention to home educate until the following school year. (E.G… child turns 6 y/o on 8/15/2001 – you would file next fall- 2002-2003 school year.)

If your district’s cutoff date is September 30th – and your child turns 6 on August 15th, you WILL need to file your notification of intention to home educate for the current new term. (E.G. child turns 6 y/o on 8/15/2001 – you would file for this school year, 2001-2002.)

If your district’s cutoff date is September 30th (or August 1st) and your child turns 6 years old on October 14th…or any day after September 30th…you would NOT need to file your notification of intention to home educate until the following school year. (E.G. … child turns 6 y/o on 10/14/2001 – you would file next fall, 2002-2003 school year.)

Importantly, it is suggested that you do NOT file for a child for whom you would not be required under the law to do so…that is, a child who will not be eligible under your district’s 6 y/o cutoff date.

WHY NOT? Should you file for a 5 year old, for example, be advised that you will also be required to fulfill ALL the requirements under the home education regulations, including assessment, even though this child does not meet the compulsory attendance requirements. Should you decide you have made a mistake and wish to no longer continue to homeschool the 5 y/o, but wait until the next year to begin formal homeschooling, the district will still require an academic assessment of the work done. The following school year would be considered a “subsequent” year and such assessment would be required in order for you to be in compliance with the regulations for continuing home educators.

AND, homeschooling KINDERGARTEN does not count in the eyes of the public school system as an approved program. Kindergarten in Ohio must be “approved.” A child who homeschools kindergarten is not necessarily automatically eligible for first grade in the public system. (Private schools would certainly have their own requirements in this regard.)

In the public system, there is in place a process of review and interview which must be followed if a child is to be homeschooled for age 5 (Kindergarten ) and then asks to be placed in the first grade in public school.

So…A WORD TO THE WISE…do not file if it is not required. You certainly may homeschool that child if you choose to do so, but why jump through Ohio’s official hoops when doing so may have unnecessary consequences?

Prepared by S.M.Duncan , June, 2001 (Do not reprint for publication or distribution with prior permission)


To: All Ohio Superintendents

From: Ohio State Board of Education

Date: June, 1993

Subject: The Home Education Regulations – Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 3301-34 Rules for Excuses From Compulsory Attendance for Home Education

In July 1989, the State Board of Education adopted Rules for Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education. These rules are contained in Chapter 3301-34 of the Administrative Code and were distributed after adoption to all superintendents. Over the past several years, a number of questions have been raised by superintendents concerning these rules. The following questions and answers are offered as guides to assist in implementing the standards and in working with home educating parents.

1. Does the word “may” in reference to attending part-time mean that a school district can refuse to take home educated students on a part-time basis?

Yes. Rule 3301-34-03(G) states “At the request of a parent, a child who has been excused from compulsory attendance for the purpose of home education may be enrolled in a chartered public school in the school district of residence… on a part-time basis.” The option to enroll the student on a part-time basis is the right of the school district.

2. May a superintendent request academic assessment information for the previous school year when the student was not in the district (home education, other public school, elsewhere)?

The standards state that the parent must provide an academic assessment report only when sending their subsequent notification for home education. If the academic assessment report is not sent with the subsequent notification, the superintendent may request, in writing, the missing information. Request for the initial notification, need not include assessment results for the previous year.

3. If the assessment information is not available when home education begins, may testing be required to establish a starting point from which to gauge the home education process?

No, the academic assessment report only needs to be sent when the parent is sending the subsequent notificationfor home education. The superintendent may not require an academic assessment to establish a starting point from which to gauge academic proficiency.

4. What options are available for conducting the academic assessment of the home educated student?

The decision as to the type of assessment report to be sent is up to the parents, and they are not required to commit to any system when sending the initial notification for home education or when sending subsequent notifications. If the parents choose to use the school district’s testing program, that decision should be coordinated with the superintendent. Rule 3301-34-04 governs the area of academic assessment reporting. One option allows for the academic report to be derived from the results of a nationally normed, standardized achievement test. The test used must meet requirements for approved standardized test set forth in the State Board of Education Rule 3301-12-02. District sponsored testing is an option which may be exercised by the parent, and thus, should the parent chose this option the parent would contact the superintendent to learn the time and location for such standardized testing. The second option provides for a written narrative indicating that a portfolio of samples of the child’s work has been reviewed. The third option is an alternative academic assessment report of the student’s proficiency mutually agreed to by the parent and the superintendent.

5. May home educated students participate in sports and other co-curricular/extracurricular activities?

Participation in sports must follow the policies and by-laws of the Ohio High School Athletic Association. The Ohio High School Athletic Association requires that a student be an enrolled (an ADM pupil) in the school to be eligible for athletic participation. Participation in other extracurricular activities should follow local board policy.

6. Is home education board policy required?

No. The State Board standards serve as the rules and policies for the districts to follow. However, the local board of education may choose to establish policies to govern such issues as part-time participation and the involvement of home education students in activities. At no time shall any of these policies conflict with the State Board standards.

7. Can home education parents declare themselves “08” schools?

There have been questions about non-chartered, non-tax supported schools which are also categorized as “08” schools. The State Board of Education has adopted standards for these schools. These rules are contained in Rule 3301-35-08 on pages 21 and 22 of the Minimum Standards for Elementary and Secondary Schools (1983).Superintendents are encouraged to review that particular section for the rules governing these schools.

8. How do missing children laws affect the information collected on home education families? (Check of driver’s license, birth certificates, etc.)

School Boards can only collect the data set forth in the State Board standards governing home education.

9. May superintendents request copies of high school diplomas, college diplomas, transcripts, etc. of home education parents, or home teachers to “affirm” that proper credentials are in place?

No, the standards do not require that the specific copy of a high school diploma or college diploma, etc. be sent with the notification for home education.

10. May superintendents require parents to come to a conference with district staff to discuss proposed educational programs submitted by the parents?

No. Parents are not required to attend conference with the superintendent or district staff to discuss the intended curriculum. They are required to provide the district written notification.

11. How are high school credits awarded to students entering public schools during the high school years?

If parents enroll a student in one of the top four grade levels, the district should have for review the most recent assessment report, may require the student to take any standardized achievement tests that were given to other students of similar age during the time this student was on home education, and may use interviews with the student and parent as well as other evaluative methods.

12. May superintendents require periodic meetings with home education parents to review progress of the student(s)?

No. Superintendents may not require parents to attend a meeting at the school site nor may school personnel require a visit to take place at the home education site.

13. Are the requirements in Rule 3301-34-03 just minimum standards that local districts may make more restrictive?

No. These are rules of the State Board that carry the same effect as law, and school districts may not add to these requirements.

14. Can home education be placed under the “educational Options” standard so students can be counted on ADM?

No. Under the Educational Options standard of the State Board, the student must be under the direct supervision of a certificated staff member of the school district, and this does not apply to the home education situation. Home educated students may not be counted in the ADM calculation.

15. What is the time line for a superintendent to respond to the parent notification for home education?

The standards require that school districts respond to the home education notification within 14 days.

16. Must the parents provide the notification on a form supplied by the State Department of Education?

No. The standards say that the parent may use a form supplied by the State Department of Education. They may use their own forms, or may simply notify by a narrative document. A copy of the suggested Ohio Home Education form is enclosed.

State of Ohio Home Education Notification Form



(Form Optional)

A parent who elects to provide home education shall supply the following information to the superintendent:

1. School year for which notification is made: _________ – ________

2. Name of parent(s) :____________________________________________________

Address: _____________________________________________________________

Telephone Number (optional) : ___________________________________________

3. Name, address, and telephone number of person who will be teaching the child the subjects set forth in #5, if other than the parent:

Name: ______________________________________________________________

Address: _____________________________________________Zip____________

Telephone Number (optional): ___________________________________________

4. Full name, birth date of child to be educated at home:

Child’s Name ___________________________________ Birthdate: _______________

Child’s Name ___________________________________ Birthdate: _______________

Child’s Name ___________________________________ Birthdate: _______________

Child’s Name ___________________________________ Birthdate: _______________

5. Assurance that home education will include the following, except that home education shall not be required to include any concept, topic, or practice that is in conflict with the sincerely held religious beliefs of the parent:

___(a) Language, reading, spelling, and writing;

___(b) Geography, history of the United States and Ohio; and national, state, and local government;

___(c) Mathematics;

___(d) Science;

___(e) Health;

___(f) Physical education;

___(g) Fine arts, including music; AND

___(h) First aid, safety, and fire prevention

6. ____ Brief outline of the intended curriculum for the current year. Such outline is for informational purposes only. (You may choose to provide this information on attached page/s.)

7. List of:

______ textbooks;

______ correspondence course;

______ commercial curricular; or

______ other basic teaching materials that the parent intends to use for home education.

Such list is for informational purposes only. (You may choose to provide this information on attached page/s.)

8. _______Assurance that the child will be provided a minimum of nine hundred hours of home education each school year.

9. Assurance that the home teacher has one of the following qualifications:

________ a high school diploma; or

________ the certificate of high school equivalence; or

________ standardized test scores that demonstrate high school equivalence; or

________ other equivalent credential found appropriate by the superintendent; or

________ lacking the above, the home teacher must work under the direction of a person holding a baccalaureate degree from a recognized college until the child/children’s test results demonstrate reasonable proficiency or until the home teacher obtains a high school diploma or the certificate of high school equivalence.

10. The parent shall affirm the information supplied with his or her signature prior to providing it to the superintendent.

Signature of Affirmation: __________________________________________________

Date: __________________________________________________________________



The State of Ohio requires that we file certain information when we choose to home educate. It is the parents’ choice exactly how this information will be provided to the SUPERINTENDENT ONLY of your school district of residence.

You may use a home education notification form created by the Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Ohio,
OR you may provide the information in the form of a letter.

The letter sample is provided below.

All information appearing in bold type (and/or caps) in the letter must be supplied to the superintendent only of your school district of residence. It is not necessary or desirable that both parents sign, though it is understood that a two-parent family will share these responsibilities.. Supply full name and date of birth for each child; you may list each child and birthdate in this letter. Include a separate curriculum outline and resource list for each child. It is NOT required or desirable to provide grade level. Home teacher qualifications appear in your copy of the regulations – a downloadable resource is listed below for your use. Use whichever is applicable to you. It is NOT necessary or desirable to list educational background which exceeds the minimum qualifications required in the regulations. Telephone number is optional and it is suggested that you do not provide such contact information.

NOTIFICATION IN A NUTSHELL– on this website will provide you with further information about the home education regulations and the filing process.

It is strongly recommended that you obtain a copy of the complete home education regulations (OAC 3301-34) by going to the following link:

(This is a searchable database.)

A burger is a burger, is a burger? by Sue Duncan

When you make a hamburger at home, you can select the quality of meat you use, cooked to the correct doneness, placed on a bread-product of your choosing, appointed exactly the way you like it with condiments from a broad spectrum, served with potatoes: mashed or fried, on your finest china, or tossable paper plates. And, you can eat it whenever you’re ready. You can even decide you’d rather have an omelet.

We all know the difference between that hamburger and McDonald’s. Can we also see the distinction between: Our burger and the one at Mom and Pop’s local teen-hangout? How about the one served at L’Elegante Ristorante? Ah, but what if they put it in a bag and you get to take it home? Is it still YOUR burger?Just because you eat it at your table instead of theirs? Did you get to tell them “No BGH beef, please. I’d prefer veggie/soy-beef. And, if you don’t mind…please use Hunt’s instead of Heinz.”

Are homeschoolers being “purists?” Please, freely choose eCOT*. But don’t try to convince me that it is home education. Because I eat my store-bought burger at home, doesn’t make it home-cooked.


*FYI: eCOT is a publicly-funded online school located in your home. Students enrolling in eCOT are public school students, subject to all the imperatives of public school such as: enrollment requirements, including provision of academic records, state-mandated curriculum objectives,state-mandated outcomes, Ohio Proficiency Testing, required testing to demonstrate learning objectives, grade level placement, immunizations, mandated in-home teacher visits, logging of instructional hours, maintainance of a Student Electronic Profile for monitoring and tracking. Students choosing eCOT receive a computer terminal, phone line and peripherals, curriculum, teacher support and an accredited diploma.

eCOT is not home education, either legally or in accordance with public perception of the terms. When enrolling in eCOT, you do not: file a notification, receive an excuse from compulsory attendance, provide an assessment of your choice, or have ultimate control over what and why your family learns. When one thinks of home education, a traditional model comes to mind, that of a family learning at home in accordance with their own decisions, having control of the materials, methods, goals and outcome-assessments, without the intervention of the state or imposition of its rules and requirements on the process, and without state monies. eCOT is a government school; it is required by virtue of its charter, the “community”school statute and Ohio law to be accountable to the taxpayer and responsible for the education of its enrollees.

Families choosing eCOT are struggling for their place; neither fish nor fowl.The challenge for homeschoolers is to maintain their own educational freedoms and autonomy, to be careful about the blurring of the lines and distinctions, while supporting educational choice for other families.

Sue Duncan (please do not reprint for publication or distribution without prior permission)

eCot – Is it Homeschooling? by Sue Duncan

I have been following eCOT (Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow – an Ohio public school online) since it made an application for a charter with Lucas County, having been initially denied by the State Board of Education. The 83-page application is instructive in itself and specifically targets several populations, prominent among these is home educators…students they refer to as “disenfranchised from traditional public education option. …It seems that follow-up or performance profiling ceases to exist when parents make the decision to home school their children or when students decide to drop out of school. Parents who exercise their right to home school their children, for whatever reason, find themselves almost completely shut off from any state support. The state in turn finds itself with little or no tracking or performance data with which to identify, understand, or assist this increasing student segment.” (Page 5/Application). They go on: “More research is needed and will be conducted by eCOT consultants. Further, numerous one-on-one surveys of home school parents has discovered that many of these parents feel alienated from Ohio’s educational systems and are left to their own devices in educating their children. A feeling of being completely without support is common among these parent/student segments. ” (Page 8/Application)

These kind of statements by eCOT illustrate a great deal of misunderstanding of home education, the history of the movement here in Ohio, and what it means to families who pursue it; it does not demonstrate an understanding of accountability and responsibility undertaken by homeschooling parents. It does not give credit for the hard work, effort, time and focus we may expend in forming and supporting our communities, nor in their accomplishments. eCOT comments about surveys and discussions, yet I have been unable to come across one homeschooler who was approached despite extensive querying throughout the state. Neither was this data appended to their application. Surely, their surveys would have included parents who felt neither the need nor the inclination to seek or expect state support; indeed, leaving the system in order to remove themselves from that authority.

Many in the media, on homeschooling lists, and elsewhere are touting this as home education. Look very closely and buyer beware! This is certainly another option…another educational choice, but it is not home education. It is a government online school which happens to be located in your home. You may squeeze your eyes tightly and click your heels three times but it does not change the fact that eCOT-ers must comply with public school imperatives including enrollment, which automatically dissolves homeschooling status. Legally, you are not a homeschooler. You must comply with state-mandated learner outcomes and goals, a state model curriculum driven by required Ohio Proficiency Testing. There are required in-home teacher visits. Students will have an IEP and an electronic student profile so that students may be monitored and tracked. Further, eCOT touts “virtual socialization, ” stunning to me given all that homeschoolers have faced in this regard, and though they make references to parental involvement, this is certainly not what most home educators would recognize as the traditional homeschooling parental control of the education process. Remember, eCOT requires that you follow state goals, curriculum model, assessments; how much parental control might you have if you decide you wish to pursue something in lieu of the required goals or outcomes, especially as this is an assessment-driven option. In homeschooling, parental control doesn’t end with the choice, it begins. And, THAT is a distinction with a difference.

Since this is a public government school, there is no tuition; and every two students per home will receive a computer terminal, peripherals and modem line, teacher support (ratio-40:1 per their application), plus all other curriculum materials. (The projected cost of the computer and peripherals is $600/per student.)

But, you should be a wise consumer of such choices; visit their website: and ask your questions on their egroups list (www.egroupscom/group/ecotohio), but be careful. One parent upon asking about enrolling in eCOT for homeschooling was advised that eCOT would take care of everything and enroll her, never once advising her of the fact that she was not enrolling in a homeschooling program but a publicly-funded online school. One parent was told by Coletta Musick, the Supt. of eCOT, that there was no log-in procedure for attendance while Musick told a newspaper reporter that “Logging on is our taking attendance.” Students will log onto the website every day. I am not suggesting that eCOT is purposely misleading home educators; I am saying that they lack a clear understanding of home education, the homeschooling regulations, the notification process and therefore, are confusing the two options by recommending this for those “seeking help for your home school student… ” and similar marketing tactics.

Check out CHEO’s position paper on charter schools such as eCOT whom they refer to as a “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing,” ( or the eCOT fact sheet from the Ohio Home Education Coalition on HSN’s website, You might also choose to read the article on the CPS Survey of Homeschoolers at HSN’s website, Sept/Oct. 2000 _Home Education Magazine_ , Taking Charge column entitled: “Homeschoolers; Is Our Good Name for Sale?” (, and two by Chris Cardiff, _The Third Great Lie_, and _Seduction of Homeschooling Families_, which detail the problems for homeschoolers of government handout programs. ( and greatlie.html) For further reading on preserving homeschooling freedoms, try: Foundations Of Freedom -Social Policy, Research, Legislation, (

Make no mistake: the issue here is not about support for those choosing eCOT. That is a separate matter for another discussion and I am NOT suggesting that these families do not deserve or should not find assistance with their support groups, and/or create and join in field trips, or activities, take classes and the like.

As a homeschooler who remembers the pre-regulations days, I don’t want this new option confused with home education; I do not wish the lines blurred by the media, or by the public education system, or by those joining just to take advantage of the freebies, or by would-be homeschoolers misunderstanding eCOT, or by eCOT themselves, implied or overtly. There are ramifications for those of us who are home educating without these government supports or handouts. eCOT is dangerous for home educators if they are not vigilant about the distinctions. I refer you back to the opening paragraph, wherein eCOT suggests “follow-up performance or profiling” and “little or no tracking or performance data” as serious issues for the state with respect to homeschoolers; they leveraged this accountability bias of bureaucrats when shopping this idea around the state. This particularly concerns me given the state’s interest of late in what it terms “accountability” of all learners in Ohio and in light of the new Standards being reviewed by the State Board of Education. eCOT provides the Ohio Department of Education with a model for bringing home educators “back to the fold.” It is, in fact, an intended consequence of eCOT.

Some have suggested that eCOT is “home education” since it takes place in the home setting. There is a traditional model in the mind of the public (and the public education bureaucracy) of what constitutes a home educator or homeschooler. For the most part, those two terms are interchangeable. They represent autonomy and freedom of choice; complete control of the education process by the parent/s. This is surely not what eCOT offers, nor can it. It is a government school which must comply with all attendant regulations and requirements. For example, immunizations.

Further, when families choose to home educate, they file a notification of intention to home educate and they receive an excuse from compulsory attendance. All this is in accordance with the Ohio Administrative Code Section 3301-34, Rules for Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education. And, within the Regulations themselves, home education is defined: ” ‘Home education’ means education primarily directed and provided by the parent or guardian of a child under Division (A) (2) of Section 3321.04 of the Revised Code which child is of compulsory school age and is not enrolled in a nonpublic school.” (OAC 3301-34-01(b)) The term “home education” is used by the state, as well, to describe this particular educational option. It is inaccurate, inappropriate and misleading to represent eCOT as home education or homeschooling, when clearly, in terms of legalities and public perception, it is not.

I am not slamming the choice. Indeed, I think options are good things and eCOT serves an important purpose for ITS families for many different reasons: financing, academic support, safety, health reasons, for example. But in terms of responsibility and accountability, control belongs to the public system. I am asking that the distinctions be clearly marked and understood. They do make a difference. And, for homeschoolers, that difference is critical.

What You Can Do:

(1) Be a wise consumer. Check out the option carefully. Visit the resources provided for information. Talk with eCOT and homeschoolers. Be clear about the distinctions.

(2) Respond to media misinformation directly. Write letters to the editor of newspapers and television/radio reports that mischaracterize this option as home education.

(3) Question eCOT directly: media reports, eCOT’s website and egroups list, marketing and advertising materials, eCOT town hall discussions, public outlets where eCOT is being marketed, discussed, etc.

(4) Write or contact eCOT directly and dispute their use of home schooling or home education references in their advertising, on the e-groups site, in their media releases and web search references. It is NOT homeschooling legally and their linkage of the two is inappropriate and misleading.

(5) Dispute the use of references to home schooling or home education by the public or the public education system. Again, this is NOT home education/homeschooling; inappropriate use of these terms leads to misunderstanding and confusion. The distinctions should be clear and understandable for home educators and those choosing eCOT.

(6) Write to your state legislators (House and Senate) expressing concern as a taxpayer for potential corporate profits to be realized by eCOT’s for-profit management group. Generally, charter schools funds are returned in some manner for reinvestment in the district; not so with eCOT. Question the profit scheme and budget surpluses projected.

(7) Understand that eCOT drafts school funds from your district, too. Former home educators who choose eCOT were not previously included in their district’s ADM (count for funding), but now districts will be charged $4300/pupil (state/local funding) for these students.

Submitted by Sue Duncan – Do not reprint for publication or distribution without prior permission

P.S. One might ask: if you use eCOT for the freebies, may you still call yourself a homeschooler since in your heart of heart you’re really just doing it for the good deals, or the curriculum, or the computer, or the diploma or the teacher support…or hey, after all, it is in your home? If this is such a good deal, why not call it what it is and be proud to be an eCOTer?


Definition, Description and Details of Options for Academic Assessment for Home Education

For each subsequent year of home education AFTER the first year, homeschoolers are required under the home education regulations to provide an ACADEMIC ASSESSMENT to the superintendent of the work of the child/ren for the previous school year. If it is your first time notifying of your intention to home educate in Ohio, no such academic assessment is required.

OAC 3301-34-04 (A) “The parent(s) shall send to the superintendent an academic assessment report of the child of the previous school year at the time of supplying subsequent notification.”

What is an Academic Assessment report?

An academic assessment report is a document sent to the superintendent ONLY of your school district together with your notification of intention to home educate. This “report” is sent for all such notifications you may make after your first year. It is not required the first time that you notify in Ohio; no prior educational history is required. A report will be sent to the superintendent for each child that you are intending to home educate. The report or academic assessment advises the district regarding your child/ren’s academic progress for the previous year. The purpose of this report is to show whether the child/ren is/are in need of remediation.

Parent(s) are provided with THREE specific assessment options – described below – and the choice of such academic assessment option is left to their discretion.

If you are not satisfied with the results of your choice of academic assessment, if it does not demonstrate the progress standard set by the regulations, you may wish to choose another academic assessment option. You will, therefore, wish to give your family sufficient time to decide upon an option, implement it and receive the results – and, if necessary, choose another option.

It is not required that you advise your school district, superintendent, or any other school district official at any time regarding which assessment option you will be using, UNLESS you:

(1) choose the option of achievement testing and wish to do so within your public school system;

(2) choose testing by other than a duly-authorized testing administrator; or

(3) choose portfolio assessment by other than a certified teacher;

(4) choose Option 3 under Academic Assessment.

If you choose achievement testing within your school system, you should notify the district in early January of your decision so that they can make arrangements to include your child/ren in their testing schedule. AND, so that they will advise you of public testing date/s, time/s, location/s.

Note: Ohio homeschoolers are NOT required to take the Ohio Proficiency Tests. Period.

Academic Assessment Options,

OAC 3301-34-04

(B): “The academic assessment report shall include one of the following: …”


“(1) Results of a nationally normed, standardized achievement test which meets the requirements set forth in rule 3301-12-02 of the Administrative Code.

(a) Such test shall be administered by:

  1. A certified teacher; or
  2. Another person mutually agreed-upon by the parent(s) and the superintendent;

(iii) A person duly authorized by the publisher of the test. … ”

The assessment standard is: reasonable proficiency – composite score of at least the 25th percentile. This is not the individual scores on each section, but rather the composite score on the entire test. The child must achieve at least the 25th percentile overall.

If you choose this standardized achievement testing option, be sure to do with sufficient time to test, return the test, and receive the results. Allowing sufficient time will provide you with an opportunity to file your notification in a less-stressful manner and allow you an opportunity to choose another academic option should you not be satisfied with the results of such testing, or to retest using another testing instrument. (Achievement tests are not the same and what they measure may vary widely.)

Note: A parent can be authorized by the publisher of the test to provide this testing (iii-above). A parent can also be authorized by the superintendent to provide this testing (ii-above).

A suggested form you may use for providing this composite score is included on this website here.


“(2) A written narrative indicating that a portfolio of samples of the child’s work has been reviewed and that the child’s academic progress for the year is in accordance with the child’s abilities. …”

A written narrative is often referred to as a “portfolio review.”

Assessment standard: progress in accordance with the child’s abilities.

A written narrative, or portfolio review, is usually performed by a certified Ohio teacher. Check with a homeschool organization for names of such certified teachers available to perform these narratives. (See below for further information.)

A written narrative may also be performed by another person mutually-agreed upon by both the parent(s) and the superintendent. This might be the support teacher if you have purchased a commercial curriculum or program which offers this service. It might also be the parent. There has been some discussion that the parent is most obviously the person most capable of evaluating the progress of a child who has been under his tutelage for the year. You will need to be very clear in discussions with your school district about what you will provide if you desire to be the assessor – unless you are a certified teacher in Ohio. (A parent who is also a certified Ohio teacher may assess his/her own children.) A district may require you to provide more information and materials than would be otherwise necessary under this option. It would be important to suggest to your district that you would supply only the information supplied by a certified teacher – that is, the statement that a portfolio had been reviewed and the child had made progress in accordance with her/his abilities.

(See form)

It is suggested that you contact a certified teacher to perform your written narrative/s early in the Spring. They are in demand and their schedules fill up quickly. It is also suggested that you obtain TWO original, signed copies of the narrative for each child you have assessed. Experience has shown the most-often misplaced document of notification in the supt’s office is the written narrative. It is often a challenge to track down your assessor and have him/her provide you with another copy of this narrative document.

Please note: It is NOT required that the teacher’s certification number be included on the narrative form; therefore, it is suggested that you do not provide it. If the school district needs this information, they have access to the state database from which they can retrieve it.

You may have this assessment done at any time you choose and save the signed, dated form until you are ready to file your notification of intention to home educate. Remember – the academic assessment must be filed with the notification.

A suggested form you may use for providing this written narrative can be accessed here.


“(3) An alternative academic assessment of the child’s proficiency mutually agreed upon by the parent and the superintendent. ”

This could be anything that the parent(s) and the superintendent might agree upon together. It could also include the Ohio Proficiency Tests, which are not nationally-normed achievement tests, but rather criterion-referenced. (Please read Footnote 4 – should you decide to undertake the OPT.)

This could also be a review by the parent of the work of the child for the school year. Cautionary note: before undertaking this option, be sure to be clear about what the district will require of you in this regard. You may find that they wish to obtain more information than is reasonable or wise to provide.

The assessment standard: whatever the parent(s) and superintendent agree upon.



(1) If your school district contains the word “local,” (e.g,, Kings Local School District) you are required by the regulations to file with the superintendent of education of your COUNTY of residence. Local superintendents do not have authority to issue an excuse from compulsory attendance.

(2) Your intention to home education notification AND the Academic Assessment report for each child must be sent to the superintendent ONLY of your school district as required by the home education regulations – OAC 3301-34-04(A). A designee or person other than the superintendent does not have authority under these regulations to receive such notifications or to issue an excuse from compulsory attendance. The regulations have the same effect as law and must be followed by both home educators and school districts

(3) Remediation: Please refer to section OAC 3301-34-05 of the home education regulations for details. Remediation is a plan submitted by the parent(s) to the superintendent within 30 days of receipt of notification from superintendent that a review of the academic assessment report indicate that the child has not demonstrated the progress standards set forth in the home education regulations.

(4) If you choose to use testing in your public school…please go the section on CHALLENGES on this website and read the discussion under Part-time Participation – Pitfalls.

(5) Be sure you provide a nationally-normed, standardized achievement test. The Ohio Proficiency test does not qualify under this option. (It is a criterion-referenced exam.) Examples of applicable tests are: Iowa Basic Skills Test, Stanford Achievement Test, Metropolitan Achievement test (MAT6), the California Achievement Test.

 Prepared and Submitted by S.M. Duncan, Rev. 06/01 - Please do not reprint for distribution or publication without