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Tennessee Homeschool Laws

Instructor: Shelby Golden
Explore the laws related to homeschooling in Tennessee with this article. Check out home education options and learn about the resources you can use if you're interested in teaching your children at home in this state.

Homeschooling Options in Tennessee

Parents interested in homeschooling in the state of Tennessee have three options, all of which have different regulations. You can:

Set Up an Independent Homeschool

You can homeschool independently by teaching your children yourself. You will need to inform the school director every year that you intend to homeschool your children if you use this option. You can access the Intent to Home School form on the Tennessee Department of Education's website (www.tn.gov/education). This notice will need to include information about the:

  • Children being taught
  • School's location
  • Proposed curriculum
  • Hours of instruction
  • Instructor's qualifications (a high school diploma or GED is required)

You will need to keep attendance records and submit them to the school district every year, along with any proof of vaccinations required by the state. This option requires you to provide at least 4 hours of instruction on 180 days over the course of the school year.

Tennessee does not have a mandated list of subjects for you to teach, but it does recommend that any curriculum you use includes science, English language arts (including reading), social studies and math. You can get ideas for what your children should study with these homeschool courses. These courses cover mathematics, science, social studies, language arts and more. They provide lessons for different grade levels, allowing you to customize the instruction your children receive. You can also check out these math, science, social studies and language arts courses to help younger children.

Children taught in this manner will need to complete standardized tests in grades 5, 7 and 9. These exams can include tests in the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) or other standardized tests of your choice, with a testing service that is authorized by the Local Education Agency in your area. If your children are taking the standardized tests required by the state, they can take them at a local school free of charge. If you choose to use a testing center/service, you must cover the costs of examinations.

Enroll in a Church-related Umbrella School

This option allows you to educate your children through a school administered by a church program. You do not have to file a notice of intent to homeschool if you use this option, nor do you have to keep records for the state. Instead, you will need to comply with any regulations or testing rules that the church program dictates.

Use an Accredited Online School

You may educate your children by having them attend an accredited online school. Before you make a choice about the school you plan to use, make sure it is accredited by an acceptable agency. You can find a list of agencies that the state of Tennessee recognizes on the DOE's website.

Homeschooler Rights in Tennessee

Students who are homeschooled in Tennessee may be able to take advantage of extracurricular activities and athletic programs offered by public schools. However, in order to participate in extracurricular activities, your children must receive authorization to do so by the principal of the school that they want to complete these activities at. For athletic programs, homeschooled children have the right to try out for sports teams (this is the same as public school students) and will not be discriminated against based on the fact that they are homeschooled, but there's no assurance that they will be a part of any team.

Additionally, the state of Tennessee doesn't provide diplomas for homeschooled students. Depending on the program you use, your children may complete high school and receive some form of diploma, but it may not be equivalent with state provided paperwork. Your children can complete either the GED or the High School Equivalency Test (HiSET) if they'd like to receive a High School Equivalency Diploma. This GED Study Guide can give your children the practice they need to successfully complete these options.

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