THSC has compiled a list of the most commonly asked requirements to homeschool in Texas, just for you! Use the drop-down menu to navigate through the questions. We believe homeschooling is one of the best educational models and we hope that you find this resource helpful.
The court held that homeschools are exempt from compulsory attendance because they are considered a type of private school. The compulsory attendance statute is currently found in Section 25.085 of the Education Code. In accordance with the Leeper decision, homeschools are exempt from the compulsory attendance statute because they are considered a type of private school under Section 25.086(a)(1) of the Texas Education Code.
According to the Leeper case, the only legal requirements to homeschool in Texas are:
- The instruction must be bona fide (i.e., not a sham).
- The curriculum must be in visual form (e.g., books, workbooks, video monitor).
- The curriculum must include the five basic subjects of reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics and good citizenship.
There is no need to register or in any way contact the local school or the state government prior to homeschooling, unless your student is currently in public school (see rules for withdrawal from public school).
- Texas Education Code Section 25.085
- Texas Education Code Section 25.086(a)(1)
- Texas Supreme Court Decision TEA v. Leeper
No, homeschoolers are not regulated in the same ways that traditional, accredited private schools are regulated in Texas. Read more about the differences in regulation of private schools and homeschools in Texas.
You are not legally required to register with your local school district or receive their permission to homeschool, but according to TEA policy you must officially withdraw your child(ren) from public school if they are already enrolled by sending a letter of intent.
The date that you will begin homeschooling is now required by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) in order to withdraw a child from public school. It is important to make certain that your students are withdrawn before homeschooling begins and that homeschooling begins as soon as your student is withdrawn in order to avoid the public school counting your student as absent and potentially filing truancy charges.
It is important to note that you are not required to complete any requirements except to submit a valid notice of withdrawal. If the school subsequently contacts you and says you must do more (e.g., come to the school office, fill out a form, present curriculum for review), you are not required to comply.
Instead, respond by email or mail with a letter of assurance (See guidelines in Section 3). The TEA has instructed school districts that such letters meet the guidelines of cooperation in compliance with compulsory attendance laws.
- Be polite and friendly. Smile. Stay calm.
- Get his or her name and business card.
- Ask what prompted the visit or call.
- Tell them, “My children are privately educated at home.”
- Answer other questions with, “I will be glad to cooperate as far as the law requires, but you will need to give me your request in writing.”
- Repeat the above statements as often as necessary. Do not be afraid of silence.
- After they leave, write down everything that occurred.
- Call THSC Association (806-744-4441) as soon as possible to report the contact.
Do not allow the official to enter your home or to speak to your children. The only legal ways into your home are with your permission, with a search warrant or in response to an emergency.
If you receive a written request, respond with a letter of assurance. If you do not respond to a written request in a timely manner, the school district can file truancy charges against you for lack of cooperation.
Because Texas homeschools are a type of private school, many families choose to name their homeschools in order to project a more official image. However, with the widespread acceptance of homeschooling over the last 30 years, projecting a more official image is no longer necessary.
Today, Texas law is clearly on our side on every front. Families who homeschool in compliance with Texas law are legally protected. There is no longer a need to create an official name for your homeschool to gain extra credibility. In fact, giving your homeschool a name can cause confusion and even invite unnecessary scrutiny.
Colleges and universities, career schools, large corporations, financial aid programs and virtually any other major institution categorizes applicants through automated systems. In the digital age, a school with an “official” name but having no digital or legal footprint will quickly raise suspicion and may cause difficulty for an applicant who could have sailed through the process by listing their school as “homeschool.”
This scrutiny comes in large part from a rise in “diploma mills” that masquerade as homeschools or private schools in order to perpetuate mass fraud against unsuspecting families. THSC has worked with the Texas attorney general’s office for several years to shut down these fraudulent businesses. See Section 26 for more information on diploma mills and how to avoid them.
Should you choose to name your homeschool, we highly recommend not putting this name on any homeschool transcripts, homeschool diplomas, higher education applications, FAFSA financial aid applications or other official documents. These are the places where a name is likely to draw extra scrutiny.
When creating homeschool diplomas and transcripts or filling out applications for college, financial aid, or other official documents, we recommend that you simply list “Homeschool” in the name field.
Yes, with a few exceptions, foster parents can homeschool their foster children in Texas.
Section 263.0045 Family Code allows families to homeschool foster children except in three specific situations:
- A court order prevents education in a home setting.
- CPS determines and can prove to the court that education of the student at home is not best for the child.
- Federal law requires another form of education.
Yes, state law enables homeschool students who are five years old or younger with special education needs to become eligible for an evaluation for special education services as long as the parent signs a consent to have his or her child evaluated.
State law requires that Texas public schools are required to provide some or all of the special needs services to homeschool students who become eligible to receive these services at the public school where they would normally attend.
The most common services provided that homeschool parents take advantage of are speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy or reading services. These services will be recommended in the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) after the evaluation is conducted with the child at the parent’s consent.
The goal for these services in the homeschool student’s IEP is the same as for a student who would be attending school in the district, which is to help the child advance to the “normal” functional level of his or her peers.
THSC members also have access to a free IEP generator as a benefit of their THSC membership.
Yes, Texas homeschoolers may take both the PSAT and Advanced Placement (AP) assessments at the school district where they would attend based on their home address. Homeschool students are allowed the same access to PSAT and AP testing as public school students and must be charged the same fee.
However, the Texas Musical Educators Association (TMEA) does allow homeschool participation as long as the homeschool student enters the audition process in the same TMEA region as the student’s local ISD is assigned.
Texas 4-H also allows homeschool participation and does not require anything extra of homeschool student competitors.
- TEA and UIL Side-by-Side 2018-2019 Chapter 3, Section 1
- 109th Edition of the 2018- 2019 Constitution and Contest Rules of the University Interscholastic League Chapter 1, Subchapter D, Section 10(c)(1)
- Eligibility Requirements for TMEA Activities Section I, Article 8
- 2018-2019 Texas 4-H Rules and Guidelines Section 3
The Texas Virtual School Network (VSN) is the most commonly used “public school at home” program in the state. This “public school at home” option should not be confused with a homeschool.
Although VSN students may take the classes from home, may receive substantial support from their parents, and may even participate in local homeschool activities, a VSN student is “legally” classified as a public school student for all courses in which they are enrolled in the VSN program (because the VSN program is run by the public school).
However, homeschool students are able to enroll part-time in select courses through the VSN program while taking the majority of their courses in a traditional homeschool setting. Although state law allows this form of “hybrid” education, only students who were enrolled in public school the previous year are allowed to enroll in the VSN program full time. (Texas Education Code 30A.002).
According to the 1994 Texas Supreme Court decision in TEA v. Leeper, homeschools were determined by the court to be a type of private school. Homeschools also clearly fall within the statutory definition of private school found in Texas Education Code 5.001(6-a).
The Texas Attorney General’s office has also stated that homeschool students are entitled to child support benefits according to the same rules as other students.
Students are eligible to continue receiving survivor Social Security benefits until graduation from high school, provided that they are enrolled full-time in primary school (42 U.S.C. § 402).
According to the Code of Federal Regulations, your child(ren) are considered to be full-time students if “You are instructed in elementary or secondary education at home in accordance with a home school law of the State or other jurisdiction in which you reside” and you are “carrying a subject load which is considered full-time for day students under standards and practices set by the State or other jurisdiction in which you reside.” (20 CFR §404.367).
According to the Social Security Administration Handbook (PR 08005.048 Texas (A)(1)), homeschoolers are eligible to receive social security benefits through the date of graduation.
Although families can technically be reported to CPS for any reason, state law prevents either the removal of a child (Family Code 262.116(a)(1)) or the termination of parental rights (Family Code 161.001(c)) based on evidence that the family homeschooled.
Section 15220 of the CPS Handbook also states that CPS investigations of homeschool families must be done “based on the same criteria and intake guidelines as any other CPS report.” It goes on to say, “DFPS has no authority to direct parents of a child not in substitute care to enroll a child in public school. At no time shall a caseworker direct parents who homeschool their children to discontinue that practice.”
While CPS has been used as a weapon against homeschooling families in the past, updates to the law clearly prevent homeschooling from being used as a reason to remove a child. To ensure these laws are enforced, THSC offers members free legal representation in CPS investigations.
Because Texas law considers homeschools to be a type of private school (Texas Education Code 5.001(6-a)), U.S. federal statute allows for Coverdell accounts to be used for certain homeschool expenses for Texas homeschool students. U.S. Code Title 26, § 530(b)(3)(A-B).
These expenses could include tuition and fees for certain programs, academic tutoring, special needs services, books, supplies and equipment, including computer technology or services. Receipts and/or invoices should be saved in the event that the IRS audits your Coverdell account expenses.
The laws are not clear on whether homeschoolers can take advantage of using 529 accounts to help pay for certain, limited homeschooling expenses. The only qualified K-12 expense under 529 accounts is tuition (U.S. Code Title 26, § 529(c)(7)). Although a family may be able to pay for tuition expenses at a homeschool co-op, the law is not clear on the subject. However in 2017, lawmakers removed homeschoolers and homeschool expenses specifically from a bill that gave more freedom to 529 account holders, indicating an intent that homeschoolers not be included, even for homeschool co-op tuition expenses.
A parent or other caregiver can provide driver education courses to a student provided that they possess a valid drivers license and have not been convicted of certain types of offenses.
When filling out a VOE form for a homeschool student to get a driver’s license or learner’s permit:
- Write “Homeschool” or the name of your homeschool on the top left corner of the form and your county on the top right corner of the form.
- Check the first box, indicating your student is enrolled in a homeschool.
- Type or print the student’s name.
- Type or print one parent’s name and phone number in Administrator/Designee section.
- Both the student and the parent must sign and date the form.
- The student must pass a written and vision exam. As of 2010, parents no longer have the option of choosing whether the student must take a driving test administered by DPS once he or she has completed driver education. The student must take the test.
The Department of Public Safety and the Texas Administrative Code (Texas Admin. Code Title 37 §15.39) both clearly state that homeschool students may use the VOE form when applying for a license or permit, just like other students.
Additional requirements for obtaining a drivers license apply.
Yes. In 2001, Texas law was changed, forcing colleges to allow homeschool students to participate in dual-credit courses just like other students.
The Texas Education Code ensures that public Texas colleges must allow homeschool students to participate in dual credit courses according to the “same criteria and conditions” as other students. (Texas Education Code 130.008(e))
In order to re-enroll homeschool students, you will need to visit the school district to fill out enrollment forms and submit all homeschool grades to the public school. The Texas Administrative Code and Texas Education Agency (TEA) policy govern how homeschoolers re-enrolling in public school should be handled.
These policies state that homeschool students enrolling in public school should be treated the same as all students transferring from non-accredited private schools. Academic credit for classes taken during homeschooling will be awarded by reviewing the curriculum and/or homework of the student or by the student taking the proper assessment(s) to evaluate their level of academic proficiency.
It is important to note that the public school retains nearly complete authority over which classes a student took during homeschooling will be awarded credit when the student enrolls in public school. Although some rules apply as described above, the school has substantial discretion in this area.
Homeschoolers are legally classified as a type of private school under Texas Education Code 5.001(6-a) and the Texas Supreme Court Leeper decision. The parent, as the administrator of the homeschool private school, is responsible for determining when his or her student has met the academic requirements for graduation.
According to the Leeper decision, the only legal requirements to homeschool in Texas are:
- The instruction must be bona fide (i.e., not a sham).
- The curriculum must be in visual form (e.g., books, workbooks, video monitor).
- The curriculum must include the five basic subjects of reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics, and good citizenship.
As long as the student has complied with the requirements of the Leeper decisions, the parent has complete discretion regarding any additional requirements for graduation. The parents should construct a transcript and a diploma for the student and should sign his or her name on both documents. Transcript and diploma templates are available for free to THSC members.
Many homeschool students attend homeschool co-ops or university model schools or participate in online programs. These programs are highly beneficial for many families and often allow families to construct highly personalized, “hybrid” forms of education where the student does a portion of their school at home and a portion through the co-op or other program.
Some of these independent programs also offer official diplomas and transcripts for graduation that are certified by the program. Families who use these programs often have two different options for how to graduate their students. Either option is entirely legal:
- If the diploma and transcript are signed by the parent then the student will be considered to have graduated from a homeschool program because it is the parent who is certifying that the student has met the academic and legal requirements for graduation. If a family chooses this option, it means that the parent is certifying that his or her student has fulfilled the requirement of the Leeper decision outlined above.
- If the diploma or transcript is signed or certified by another entity or individual, or if the name or logo of another entity appears on the diploma or transcript, the student will likely be considered to have graduated from that program, not from the parent’s homeschool program. Texas Education Code Section 25.086(a)(1) exempts from the public school compulsory attendance statute any student who attends a private school that includes a course in good citizenship. A student whose graduation is certified by an independent private program that meets this requirement is in compliance with Texas law.
A student can legally graduate through either of the above methods.
Which of these two options a parent chooses is less important than that the parent is consistent. If the parent plans to fill in on official forms and legal documents that the student graduated from a homeschool program, the parent should sign both the diploma and transcript personally.
If the parent plans to fill in on official forms and legal documents that the student graduated through a particular independent program other than the parent’s homeschool, then the parent should use the diploma and transcript provided by that program.
Mixing these two options up is not illegal but it can cause unnecessary confusion for employers or other institutions. A graduate who describes themselves as having been homeschooled but who provides a transcript or diploma signed by someone other than the parent may face scepticism or confusion from the institution in question, even if the student is fully in compliance with Texas law.
In order to avoid this confusion, THSC recommends that only the parent sign both the transcript and diploma if they plan to describe their student as a homeschool student and plan to fill in on official forms and legal documents that their student was homeschooled.
In 2003, Texas law was amended to clearly state that graduation from a homeschool is considered to be “equivalent to graduation from a public high school” and that homeschool students must be treated “according to the same general standards” as other students when being considered for admission to college. (Texas Education Code § 51.9241)
In 2015, this law was amended to end discriminatory practices against homeschool students based on their lack of a class ranking. Homeschool students are now assigned a class rank based on their SAT/ACT scores. (Texas Education Code § 51.9241(d))
Colleges are allowed to create their own criteria for admission, provided those criteria apply the same way to homeschool students as to other students. This requirement includes any automatic admissions policies created by the college.
However, in addition to any automatic admissions policies created by the college, the state of Texas requires colleges to give automatic admission to students from public school or from an accredited private school who graduate in the top 10 percent of their class. (Texas Education Code § 51.803(a)(1)), (Texas Admin. Code Title 19, § 5.5). Because homeschool graduates do not graduate from “accredited” schools, they do not have access to automatic admission under the mandatory Top 10% Rule.
Additionally, colleges are allowed (but are not required) to adopt policies granting automatic admission to students from accredited public or private schools who graduate in the top 25 percent of their class. (Texas Education Code § 51.804), Texas Admin. Code Title 19, § 5.5).
Because the Top 25% Rule does not prevent colleges from granting admission to homeschoolers and because Chapter 51 of the Education Code requires fair treatment and provides a process for calculating class rank for homeschool students, colleges who have adopted this admission policy currently allow homeschoolers who rank in the top 25% to gain automatic admission.
Texas homeschoolers are eligible for nearly every type of financial aid, scholarship and grant offered by the state of Texas. However, some homeschoolers may be ineligible to receive the TEXAS Grant.
The Toward EXcellence, Access, and Success (TEXAS) Grant provides multiple options for eligibility. Homeschoolers are ineligible under the first option because it requires graduation from an “accredited” public or private school (Texas Education Code 56.3041(a)(2)(A))
However, homeschoolers can obtain eligibility if they meet the requirements for one of two additional options (Texas Education Code 56.3041(a)(2)(B-C)):
- Obtaining an associates degree
- Be an undergraduate student who:
- Has previously attended college,
- Received the Texas Educational Opportunity Grant during a previous college semester,
- Has completed at least 24 college credit hours, and
- Earned an overall college GPA of at least 2.5.
The Texas Workforce Commission regulates career colleges and schools in Texas. As part of that oversight, they have outlined certain admission requirements. (Texas Admin Code Title 40, § 807.2(37).) The rules specifically provide that successful completion of homeschooling at the high school level is a sufficient credential for admission to a career college’s programs. (Texas Admin Code Title 40, § 807.192(a)(1).)
According to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act and a memorandum from the Assistant Secretary of Defense, homeschoolers are allowed to enlist in the military and cannot be required to score any higher on exams or tests than other applicants.
Homeschool graduates planning to enlist in any branch of the U.S. Military must be prepared to present a valid homeschool transcript and diploma to the recruiter. Both documents need to list the parent(s) as the administrator(s) and instructor(s) of the graduate’s homeschool education and must be signed by the administrator(s).
Please note that according to U.S. Military policy, homeschoolers are required to have been homeschooled for at least nine consecutive months prior to graduating as a homeschool student. The U.S. Army policy differentiates between homeschools and “independent study,” which may take place at home but award diplomas based on assessment and testing and do not involve parental instruction. Independent study programs are not considered homeschools or equivalent to high school graduation.
This U.S. Military policy was adopted to combat the growth of “diploma mills,” which fail to provide any actual academic instruction to the student and are not recognized as a valid form of high school graduation by many agencies, institutions, or employers. Read more about diploma mills in Section 26 and about proper methods for high school graduation in Section 20 on this page.
Yes, Texas Administrative Code Title 25, Section 157.33, a homeschool diploma is acceptable proof of graduation from a homeschool graduate who is a candidate for Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification.
Homeschool graduates that are candidates for EMT certification are held to the same standards as public school graduates.
Diploma mills are individuals or entities that offer fraudulent high school diplomas to people who have not graduated from high school. They usually market their product to students who dropped out of high school, were expelled from high school or even to adults who never graduated and are looking for a second chance.
It is very common for these illegitimate operations to market themselves as legal, alternative homeschools.
Marque Learning Center defrauded as many as 100,000 students, charging each of them between $99 and $1,000 for bogus high school diplomas.
Parkview Homeschool defrauded at least 42,000 students over two decades, charging them $200-$300 for diplomas after allowing them to “complete” their high school education in as little as a day or two, often without any required coursework.
Lincoln Academy, another diploma mill exposed by the Texas attorney general with help from THSC, was shut down and ordered to pay $1.4 million in compensation to defrauded customers. They were discovered after a basset hound was put through Lincoln Academy’s required test and given an “official” diploma.
THSC received a call from one victim of a diploma mill who received his diploma by visiting the personal residence of a lady he spoke with on the phone, giving her $300, and waiting until she printed out his diploma on her home computer.
According to Texas Education Code Section 29.916, a homeschool student “means a student who predominantly receives instruction in a general elementary or secondary education program that is provided by the parent, or a person standing in parental authority, in or through the child’s home.” Diploma mills fail this definition for several reasons.
First, they typically provide no education at all. To be issued a high school “diploma” from a diploma mill, students often have to do nothing more than just pay a fee. The required fees are often several hundred dollars. After paying your fees, the diploma mill will sometimes just print out a diploma and give it to the student immediately.
Second, it is not administered through the child’s home by someone standing in parental authority. Although diploma mills have attempted to defraud families by abusing Texas’s unregulated homeschool environment, they ultimately fail the definition of homeschooling provided by the Leeper case and by the Texas Education Code.
To be clear, there are many legitimate accelerated high school programs. The key difference between a legal program and a fraudulent diploma mill is whether any education actually takes place. If the student is merely paying a fee and receiving a diploma, the program is certainly a fake. It gets more complicated when the program sets up phony tests or provides a bogus curriculum that doesn’t actually teach anything.
The bottom line is that you must not use a program which doesn’t require actual academic work and doesn’t measure academic achievement. A diploma from such a program will not get a student into college or even an entry-level job.
Because many diploma mills have been shut down or are being investigated by the attorney general of Texas, many trade schools, colleges and universities in Texas now have a list of diploma mills in their admissions departments and will flag or reject any applications that come in under those names.
As one homeschool student recently found out, even names similar to the listed names can result in rejection. Additionally, businesses and other institutions are increasingly skeptical of any official-sounding high schools that have no web presence or other verifiable credentials.
Universities must be even more cautious—they can be held liable if they don’t exercise due diligence to prevent the fraudulent use of federal student aid by students who didn’t actually qualify.
Yes, your child is legally able to work during their home education. However there are limitations on how many hours and what kind of jobs your child can get depending on their age.
Texas law prohibits a child younder than 14 from being employed and places restrictions on children over the age of 14. This does not apply in several specific circumstances, such as for a child who is engaged in non-hazerdous employment with the consent of their parent.
For children ages 14 or 15, state law requires that the child:
- Can work no more than 8 hours in one day.
- Can work no more than 48 hours in one week.
- Cannot go to work before 5 a.m.
- Cannot work after 10 p.m. on a day that is followed by a school day, including summer school sessions when applicable.
- Cannot work past midnight on a day that is not followed by a school day.
Depending on the business where your child is employed, federal law may limit the number of hours worked by a child. For businesses covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, children:
- May not work during school hours.
- Can work no more than 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week when school is not in session.
- Can work no more than 3 hours in a day or 18 hours in a week when school is in session.
- Can work only between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. during the school year. However, between June 1 and Labor Day, they may work between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.
According to federal law, children ages 14 or 15 are not permitted to work during school hours. While homeschool hours can be very flexible, the federal statute that governs this defines school hours as the school hours set by the local public school where the minor resides while working. Therefore this will likely fluxuate by school district but will generally mean 8 or 9 in the morning to around 3 in the afternoon are considered non-working hours.
To determine whether a business is covered under the FLSA, contact your local U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division or visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s Reference Guide to the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Under both state and federal law, children ages 16 and older have no restrictions on the hours or days they can work, but children of all ages have restrictions on what type of employment are allowed.