Homeschooling Oversight in Kentucky Tries to Uncover Dropouts

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Kentucky education officials have announced that they will begin to monitor high school students who leave the public school setting to be homeschooled in order to be sure the students are not dropping out.

Local school boards across the state have volunteered to raise the dropout age from 16 to 18 in their districts.  The policy is set to begin this fall in the majority of districts.

However, Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said he heard that some school officials were suggesting students who want to drop out to say they are going to be homeschooled instead, when, “in actuality, no home school existed,” in an effort to keep dropout numbers low.

The stories have caused the creation of an annual report which will monitor the number of high school students who leave the public school system each year in order to be homeschooled.

“We want to carefully monitor and makes sure that we don’t see a significant spike in home school,” Holliday said.

The report will focus on students age 16 and above who will soon be required to stay in school until age 18.  In addition, grade retention, alternative and career and technical school participation, and student behaviors will also be monitored, writes Devin Katayama for WKMS.

Numbers will be provided to the Kentucky Department of Education by district and high school.

Currently, about 5,000 students across the state, or 1% of the student population, drop out of high school to enter a homeschool situation.

Holliday added that he believes most of the students who choose to be homeschooled are in a legitimate learning environment and that he fully supports the switch.

“Should there be a significant increase in the percentage of high school students withdrawing from public school to attend home school, then we will work with our schools and districts to better understand the reasons behind the increase,” Holliday said in his blog.  “In most cases, we will probably find that our districts need additional support with alternative programs, student support programs, and career and technical education.”

Meanwhile in Virginia, the Goochland County School Board has repealed its policy that would require 14-year-old students to be interviewed by the school board concerning their religious beliefs in order to be homeschooled. The state has run under a religious exemption statute, offering parents the right to homeschool their children without reporting to the state.

The Goochland County School Board had gone against that policy by requiring parents to submit their religious beliefs in writing in order to homeschool their children.  Students between the age of 14 and 18 would be asked to be interviewed by the school board pertaining to their religious beliefs.

However, the policy was met with much public criticism, and the board chose to repeal it.

In Puerto Rico, a new homeschooling regulation proposal would allow officials to become entwined with individual homeschools.  The bill has vague language, saying education must be “adequate,” “efficient,” and “sufficient” in order to meet objectives.  However, none of these terms are defined.

The Council of Education is given the power to decide on definitions for these terms on their own, and also is able to meddle with homeschools to the point of requiring students to enroll in area public schools if they believe an adequate education is not being received at home.

The bill is meeting criticism from all sides, as hundreds of families arrived at the Capitol to make their opposition known.  The protesters presented a petition that had gained 11,000 signatures asking for the bill to be withdrawn.