Homeschool FAQ’s

What is the difference between homeschooling and remote learning?

If you choose remote learning as an option, the school district provides the curriculum and oversees the learning. The student remains enrolled in his/her home school.

Homeschooling requires a parent to withdraw their child from school and create a curriculum that parents oversee. If a parent decides to home school, the student is no longer a student of the Gloucester Public Schools.

Question: How do I start homeschooling if my child is already enrolled in school?

Answer: Please contact Patricia Wegmann, the District’s Director of Special Education and Homeschool Coordinator. She will send you a Homeschool Application.

In order to start the process of homeschooling, a parent must submit an Education Plan to the superintendent as required by state law of all families who want to homeschool. The Education Plan must be submitted as soon as possible and must be approved by the Gloucester Public Schools prior to beginning the home school program.

You should send your completed education plan via certified mail to 2 Blackburn Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930.

Question: What are the Homeschool education laws in Massachusetts?

Answer: Homeschooling in Massachusetts is primarily governed by the compulsory attendance statute (G.L. c 76, Sec. 1), and Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decisions, such as Care and Protection of Charles, a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling decided in 1987. Oversight is at the level of local school districts.

Question: At what age should I submit an education plan for my child?

Answer: You should submit your education plan in the calendar year in which your child turns six. Families are required to continue reporting to their local school district until their child turns 16. Families may choose to continue to file education plans for specific purposes such as maintaining dual enrollment status at community colleges or to play public high school sports.

Question: When should I file my education plan?

Answer: As soon as possible. Any home school program must be “approved in advance by the superintendent or the school committee.” M.G.L. c. 76, § 1. For that reason, the home school plan must be submitted and approved prior to beginning the program. It is strongly suggested that you submit the plan well in advance of the date you are seeking to implement the home school program so that the school district has time to review and consider whether or not to approve it.

Question: Can testing be required?


Question: What information has to be in my education plan?

Answer: The Charles court recognized that certain factors may be considered by the superintendent or school committee in determining whether or not to approve a home school proposal:

    • the subjects that the student will study;

    • the hours of instruction for each subject;

    • the length of the home school year;

    • the textbooks, workbooks, and other instructional aides to be used by the student;

    • the lesson plans and teaching manuals to be used by the parent;

    • the means to be used to assess the student; and

    • the academic credentials or other qualifications of each person who will be instructing the student.

Question: Where do I send my Education Plan?

Answer: Please contact Patricia Wegmann, the District’s Director of Special Education and Homeschool Coordinator. She will send you a Homeschool Application. You should send your education plan via certified mail to 2 Blackburn Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930.

Question: What about a curriculum?

Answer: Homeschool proposals are expected to be “equal in thoroughness and efficiency” to the instruction provided in public schools, but Charles does not make reference to or require the use of any specific materials or resources.

Question: Do I have to be a certified teacher or have a college degree to homeschool my children?

Answer: No. Certification would not appropriately be required for parents under a home school proposal… “Nor must the parents have college or advanced academic degrees.” (Charles)

Question: What about evaluation?

Answer: Charles states that school officials and parents should agree on a method of evaluation, which can include one of the following: standardized testing, a periodic progress report, or dated work samples. As the Supreme Judicial Court noted in Charles, a school district must evaluate “the progress made therein,” as part of its ongoing approval of a home school program.

Question: Can testing be required?

Answer: The question of whether school officials can require testing of homeschoolers is not answered definitively in Massachusetts law.

    • Charles states that “…the superintendent or school committee may properly require periodic standardized testing of the children to ensure educational progress and the attainment of minimum standards.” (Charles at 339, 340).

    • However, the decision goes on to say, “Other means of evaluating the progress of the children may be substituted for the formal testing process, such as periodic progress reports or dated work samples, subject to the approval of the parents.” (Charles).

    • It’s important to remember that testing was the chosen method of evaluation for the family involved in the Charles case. It’s likely that when the court stated that standardized testing may be required, it was addressing (and answering “yes” to) the larger question of whether evaluation in general could be required.

The fact that the court offers examples of other acceptable forms of evaluation, and stresses that they should be “subject to the approval of the parents,” indicates that the intent was not to allow schools the authority to dictate what type of evaluation families use. Rather, the intent is to allow parents to retain a choice in how their children are evaluated.

Question: Do I have to teach the same subjects as the public school?

Answer: Yes, but not on the same schedule. For instance, a homeschooler could decide to cover all of high school math in one year and not do any math in other years. G.L. c. 69, section 1D lists as core subjects mathematics, science and technology, history and social science, English, foreign languages and the arts. Subjects from Chapter 71 Sections 1 and 3 include orthography, reading, writing, the English language and grammar, geography, arithmetic, drawing, music, the history and constitution of the United States, the duties of citizenship, health education, physical education and good behavior. In considering a home school program, burden is on the parent to demonstrate that the proposed program qualifies as one which is equal to the public school instruction provided in the district in its “thoroughness and efficiency, and in the progress made therein.”

Question: Must my education plan align with the Common Core Standards?

Answer: No

Question: Do I have to match the schedule of the public school?

Answer: No. Following a schedule is not an important consideration in a home school where “...the perception and use of time... are different ”

Question: Do I have to meet with school officials?

Answer: No. School officials, however, may make reasonable inquiries in regard to the details or the home school plan, the curriculum being used both as part of initial approval and its ongoing approval of a home school program.

Question: Can I use school facilities, participate in public school classes and programs, and/or get educational materials from the schools?

Answer: Decisions regarding homeschoolers’ participation in any public school offerings are made at the discretion of local districts.

Question: Can my kids play high school sports at the public school?

Answer: The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA), a private, not-for-profit organization organized by its member schools, stipulates that homeschooled students are eligible to participate in MIAA-sponsored interscholastic athletics if certain conditions are met. This policy removes obstacles to homeschoolers’ participation, but does not guarantee access. MIAA member schools must have the first say when it comes to allowing homeschooled students to join their athletic teams.

Question: Do homeschoolers get a diploma?

Answer: Home-schooled students are not permitted to participate in the MCAS and, therefore, cannot attain a public high school diploma.

Question: What about MCAS?

Answer: Homeschoolers are neither required, nor are they allowed, to take MCAS.

Question: What if my child has special needs?

Answer: Most Massachusetts families with special needs children receive homeschool approval with little difficulty. Eligible Massachusetts homeschoolers have the continue right to special education through the public schools to the same extent as parentally placed private school students.

Question: What happens if the school district says my plan isn’t good enough?

Answer: If the school sees a problem with your plan, they must detail the reasons, and give you the opportunity to revise your plan to remedy it.

Question: Can home visits be required as a condition of approval of my home education plan?

Answer: No

Question: Are homeschoolers included in the public school student enrollment count?

Answer: No. Schools receive no funding for homeschooled students located in their district.

Question: Can homeschoolers take the HiSET or GED (High School Equivalency exam)?

Answer: Yes. A homeschooler age 16 or 17 can have the public school write a letter stating that he or she is not enrolled, as he or she is (or has been) a homeschooler, and that letter will qualify him or her to take the High School Equivalency Assessment.

Question: What is the role of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education with regard to homeschooling?

Answer: The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has no authority to approve or disapprove homeschooling plans.