Should Home Schoolers Follow the Common Core?

By Jaclyn Zubrzycki — May 18, 2017 2 min read
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A home school advocacy group is concerned about a West Virginia legislator’s suggestion this month that home schooling parents should be asked to teach content based on the Common Core State Standards.

The Home School Legal Defense Association, which provides legal services to home schooling families, published a piece early this month about several legislative actions in West Virginia related to home schooling. Sen. Michael Romano’s suggestion that home schools also be required to use the standards was listed as one of a few examples of the legislator’s “hostility” towards home schoolers and what the organization describes as attempts to limit home schooling parents’ freedom to determine what they teach.

The debate is an old one: How much freedom should home schooling parents have?

States take different approaches, as my colleague Arianna Prothero reported in 2015: In some cases, parents don’t even have to let the state know they are home schooling, let alone follow certain curricular standards. In others, there are more stringent requirements. The article also notes that increasing numbers of home-schooled students around the country are enrolled in online schools that teach common-core-based curriculum.

But it does seem that home schooling families are actually getting more freedoms in many states: Since 2012, at least five states have loosened requirements for teaching certain subjects to home-schooled students.

The Home School Legal Defense Fund has long been concerned about the common core. In fact, it has argued that parents’ distaste for the standards has led to an increase in home schooling in recent years.

Meanwhile, the Coalition for Responsible Homeschooling, a separate advocacy group, is crowdfunding a research study to determine the effectiveness of home schooling. It notes that approximately 2 million students are home-schooled but there’s been very little research into these students’ academic outcomes. The crowdfunding page also notes that several home-schooled students have recently come forward calling for more accountability in home schooling.

One recent example of that: Earlier this spring, a student at the Washington State University wrote a piece for The Spokesman-Review in Spokane advocating for more controls over what gets taught to home-schooled students.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.