Monday, December 20, 2010

Homeschooling in Colorado

Another blog cruise... the final one for 2010, and this week's question:

What are the laws and requirements where you live, and how do you handle them?

Okay, so basically -- for kids who have not been truant in a public school setting or anything like that -- the laws in Colorado state that (this is not complete, but it is the basics, go to the link if you want to see the actual text):
  1. We have to do no less than 172 days of instruction, averaging four instructional contact hours per day.
  2. We have to provide a notice of intent at least 14 days before our school year begins, and continue to provide that each year.
  3. The child is to be evaluated in grades 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11.  The results need to be submitted.
  4. We have to maintain records.
  5. We have to provide instruction in some general (and basic) subjects, including reading, writing, speaking, math, history, civics, literature, science and the US Constitution.
What this means to me is that every December, I need to type up a form, listing names and ages of my kids, stating we're homeschooling and will do at least 172 days averaging 4 hours, sign it and turn it in.  I choose to submit to my school district, but I am not required to choose them.  Our school year runs January through October.  We could set that to be pretty much anything we want.

I have to teach them subjects I would have taught them anyway.

I have to keep a calendar, x-ing off days that we do school, until we hit 172.  I have to keep copies of their standardized tests.  I have to keep immunization records.  I'd pretty much do the last two regardless, it's just the busy-work of a stupid calendar that I have to add to my life.

And in grades 3, 5 and 7 (so far), I administer a standardized test.  Until this year, we've done the CAT/5.  This year, we took the Iowa.  I have to submit those results somewhere.  Again, we choose to submit them in our school district, but we don't have to.  And standardized tests are not required.  We could also do an evaluation, but Dale wanted us doing the standardized tests every couple of years even before we knew it was required by law.

Overall, I do not feel Colorado's laws are terribly restrictive.  The Notice of Intent is NOT me asking the school for permission, but me informing them that my kids are not truant.  It literally takes more time to print than it does to type.  There is very little information required.

We exceed 172x4 instructional hours per year, easily.  That's never been an issue.

The standardized tests bother me though.  I'm stuck with a nationally normed test, which means I can't do things like submit an SAT score.  I'm stuck with paying for ridiculous tests that don't give me any useful information at all.  I already know that they suck at spelling.  And 99th percentile in math doesn't help me at all... are they still making progress?  Or are they 'merely' staying ahead for their grade?  I want to do something that actually TELLS me something.

But really.  If five stupid tests over the course of 13 years of education, and an annual "hey, we're still homeschooling!" letter (and x's on a calendar) is what it takes to keep things legal and above board, well, I can do that.  I'm thrilled I don't have to prove I'm competent, I'm beyond thrilled I don't have to submit course plans, and I love that nobody gives me permission. 

To read about homeschooling laws elsewhere, check out the Blog Cruise post on Tuesday morning!  Click the graphic above to get there!


Ina's 5 and our Native Homeschool Blog said...

Everytime I read about homeschooling laws elsewhere I am so thankful I live in Ontario. I submit a notice stating I am continuing to homeschool each year. There is nothing more. This year i sent an email. For my youngest I will not have to even do that since the notice only applies to children who have been enrolled in school.

Debra said...

That is awesome. Maybe we need to move to Ontario! :)

There are definitely a lot worse places to homeschool than Colorado... but there are better ones too. Ontario sounds awesome.

Ina's 5 and our Native Homeschool Blog said...

:) The weather would be about the same.

Yes I have read some very intrusive laws, yours are not the worst.