When I first moved to Idaho, I had no idea I was going to homeschool. Now that I am educating my children at home, I’m so glad I live here!
Idaho is one of the best states to live for homeschooling families. We enjoy more freedoms than most states, and have a long list of inexpensive homeschooling resources available. That’s why I wanted to gather all the information in one place!
Idaho Homeschooling Laws
In Idaho, parents are allowed to be parents, deciding what, when and where our children learn. Although attempts are constantly made to restrict Idaho homechoolers (for our own good, we are told) our freedoms and protections have actually increased in recent years.
As of this date (Aug 15, 2013), according to the Idaho Department of Education, the Idaho Coalition of Home Educators and HSLDA, Idahoans must provide an equivalent public school education beginning when our children reach 7 years of age and ending when they turn 16 (Code 33-202). As long as Idaho parents comply with this one law we enjoy the freedom to educate our children as we see fit.
We are not required to report to anyone that we are homeschooling. Statutes allow us to determine our own teaching schedule and curriculum. Idaho law does not specify the number of hours, days or weeks that parents must provide formal instruction.
When it comes to taking standardized tests, home educated children in Idaho have the best of both worlds. We are not required to take the tests but through ICHE, Idaho is the only state that has a system set up for homeschoolers to take these tests independent of the public system.
Homeschooling parents have a much better feel for how our children are performing compared to administrators, but testing may provide a valuable diagnostic tool and prepares students for college exams. Also, scores from these tests have a powerful impact on legislation as Idaho Homeschoolers score significantly higher compared to state and national percentiles.
Idaho law guarantees our right to dual-enrollment. That means that we can use specific public school resources as a supplement to our homeschools. So, as long as there are openings, our children can participate in classes, sports, band, debate or any other public school activity.
The catch is that once our children are enrolled in the public school system, we must submit to public school standards and requirements. Our children might need to take standardized tests, health assessments and submit academic records. So, by dual-enrolling our children we forfeit many of our homeschooling freedoms.
Threats to Our Freedom
While Idahoans enjoy many freedoms, we must remain vigilant. Many people are very opposed to homeschooling and constantly look for ways to regulate us. The law states that Idahoans must provide equivalent instruction in our homes. If someone reports that a homeschool family is neglecting to educate their children, an investigation can be opened and criminal charges can be brought.
Luckily, in Idaho homeschoolers are assumed innocent until evidence of guilt is presented. That means that accusations and assumptions alone are not enough to get us investigated. There must be enough evidence to bring a charge against us, just like any other criminal case.
So, if a social worker or policeman shows up at our door, we have the right to ask for a court order or search warrant. We have the right to remain silent and request a lawyer. We also have a right to know the “cause” that initiated our investigation.
The second major threat to Idaho homeschoolers is Common Core. The Common Core Standards were adopted in Idaho 4 years ago, but are just now being implemented. Idaho was baited by the U.S. Department of Education during the Great Recession in 2009.
The federal government tied stimulus money through a state competition. States were given points based on a number of factors including adopting the Common Core State Standards.
Like the rest of the country, Idaho signed on but received none of the federal dollars. The consolation was that Idaho did not have to meet requirements of previous standards set by the No Child Left Behind Act. This means that Idaho did not have to report any academic failures.
While Idaho Homeschoolers have been told that we will not be affected by Common Core, it is hard to believe. Already SAT and ACT tests are being rewritten to align with Common Core. If homeschoolers want to go to college, then they will be indirectly affected by Common Core Standards.
Also, while Idaho has been very open to homeschooling in the past, it will be interesting to see how things pan out now that the federal government is running education in Idaho. But for now, Idaho homeschoolers are not required to conform to national Common Core Standards because we are not required to take standardized tests.
So future regulation aside, Idaho is perhaps one of the best places to homeschool in the world. Because of the lack of government intervention, we are free to thrive.
More Posts in this Series:
Don’t live in Idaho? Starting July 1st, I’m joining homeschoolers across the nation to help bring you resources for all 50 states, plus a HUGE Homeschooling Giveaway with over $800 in prizes!