An overview of the homeschool laws and regulations of Arkansas, along with links to legislative source information, additional reference materials and government resources on homeschooling.
Arkansas Education Code: Sections Relevant to Homeschoolers
6-18-201. Compulsory Attendance – Exceptions [As amended by Acts1991, No. 320, Sec. 1].
(a) Every parent, guardian, or other person residing within the State of Arkansas having custody or charge of any child or children age five (5) through seventeen (17) years on October 1 of that year, both inclusive, shall enroll and send the child or children to a public, private, or parochial school or provide a home school for the child or children as described in Sec. 6-15-501 et seq. under such penalty for noncompliance as shall be set by law with the following exceptions:
- Any child who has received a high school diploma, or its equivalent as determined by the State Board of Education, is not subject to attendance requirement.
- Any parent, guardian, or other person residing within the state and having custody or charge of any child or children may elect for the child or children not to attend kindergarten if the child or children will not be age six (6) on October 1 of that particular school year. If such an election is made, the parent, guardian, or other person having custody or charge of the child must file a signed kindergarten waiver form with the local district administrative office. Such form shall be prescribed by regulation of the State Department of Education. On filing the kindergarten waiver form, the child or children shall not be required to attend kindergarten in that school year.
- Any child age sixteen (16) or above enrolled in a post secondary vocational-technical institution, a community college,or a two-year or four-year institution of higher education is not subject to this attendance requirement.
(b) Any child who will be six (6) years of age on or before October 1 of the school year of enrollment and who has not completed a state-accredited kindergarten program shall be evaluated by the district and placed either in the first grade or kindergarten depending upon the results of the evaluation.
Subchapter 5 – Homeschools
As used in this subchapter, unless the context otherwise requires, “home school” means a school primarily conducted by parents or legal guardians for their own children.
6-15-502. Rules, regulations, and procedures for monitoring and enforcing provisions.
(a) The provisions of Sec. 6-18-201(a) shall be self-executing,and the State Board of Education shall have no authority to promulgate rules, regulations, or guidelines for the enforcement or administration thereof.
(b) The State Board of Education is empowered to make such reasonable rules and regulations required for the proper administration of this subchapter and Sac. 6-18-201(a) which are not inconsistent with the intent of this subchapter and Sec. 6-18-201(a).
(c) In addition, the State Board of Education shall cause procedures to be developed which will insure that the provisions of this subchapter and 6-18-201(a) are properly monitored and enforced. 6-15-503. Prerequisites to home schooling.
- (1) Parents or guardians desiring to provide a home school for their children must comply with the following requirements: (A) Give written notice to the superintendent of their local school district by August 15, or by December 15 for the spring semester, of each school year of their intent to provide a homeschool for their child. Notice must include:
- The name, date of birth, grade level, and the name and address of the school last attended, if any, of each student involved;
- The location of the home school;
- The basic core curriculum to be offered;
- The proposed schedule of instruction; and
- The qualifications of the parent/teachers.
(B) This information may be used only for statistical purposes. (2) Agree for students enrolled in the home school who are seven (7) years old or older on the date of the test to be tested annually by May 1 using a nationally recognized standardized achievement test chosen by the parents from a list of such tests provided by the State Board of Education. In addition, each home school student who is fourteen (14) years old on the date of the test must take the minimum performance test required of all eighth grade public school students.
(3) Provide information about any student to be enrolled in the home school which might indicate the need for special education services.
(a)(1) and (2) Parents or guardians desiring to provide a home school for their children must give written notice to the superintendent of their local school district of their intent to provide a home school for their child. and sign a waiver acknowledging that the State of Arkansas is not liable for the education of their child during the time that parent chooses to home school:
(A) the beginning of each school year but no later than August 15 or
(B) By December 15 for parents who decide to start home schooling at the beginning of the spring semester or
(C) Subject to the provisions of subsections (d) and (e) of this section, fourteen (14) calendar days prior to withdrawing the child from the local school district and at eh beginning of each school year thereafter. The superintendent or the local school board may waive the fourteen (14) day waiting period.
(2) Parents or guardians moving in the school district during the school year must give written notice to the superintendent of their local school district of their intent to provide a home school for their child and sign a waiver acknowledging that the State of Arkansas is not liable for the education of their child during the time that parent chooses to home school within 30 days (30) calendar days of establishing residency within the district.
6-15-504. Annual Achievement Tests – Requirement and Procedure.
(a) Each student enrolled in a home school program who is seven (7) years of age through sixteen (16) years of age on May 1 of each school year shall be tested annually by May 1 using a nationally recognized standardized achievement test chosen by the parents from a list of such tests provided by the State Board of Education.
(b) The test administered to a student who is seven (7) years of age shall be for the purpose of obtaining educational baseline data on the student.
(c) The administration of the test required of home school students shall be by the Director of the Department of Education, General Division, or his designee, which may include a school district or an educational cooperative.
(d) Such administration shall include purchasing the test materials, giving the test, scoring and interpretation of the test, and reporting test results.
(e) The parent/teacher may be present when home school students are tested, but in such instance, both the parent and the student shall be under the supervision of the test administrator.
(f) The cost of testing required by this subchapter shall be reimbursed to the state by the parent or guardian of the student.
6-15-505. Report of test results – Unsatisfactory Results.
(a) (1) Test results shall be reported to the parent/teacher of the home school, the superintendent of the school district in which the home school is located, and the Department of Education. (2) Personally identifiable test scores shall be confidential and shall not be released without the consent of the parent. (3) When test results of the home school student are unsatisfactory, a program of remediation should be planned and implemented by the parent/teacher. (4) Any student eight (8) years of age or older whose test results are unsatisfactory shall be enrolled in a public, private, or parochial school unless, prior to the beginning of the next school year, such student retakes the same test and achieves a satisfactory score.
(b) (1) Unsatisfactory test results on the standardized achievement battery shall mean, for all grades, achieving a composite score on reading, mathematics, and language arts that is more then eight (8) months below expected grade level plus, for grade 6 and above, scores on science and social studies tests which are more than eight (8) months below expected grade level. (2) Unsatisfactory test results on the minimum performance test shall mean not achieving the standard of mastery established for such test by the State Board of Education.
(c) Remediation must be provided for students scoring below the mastery level on the minimum performance test, and all students must pass this test before entering the ninth grade.
(d) Notification that a student has not scored satisfactorily on the standardized achievement battery and thus must return to a public, private, or parochial school will come from the Department of Education.
(e) Any student required to return to a public, private, or parochial school must continue attendance at a public, private, or parochial school until the student achieves satisfactory test results as defined by this section.
(f) Authority is specifically given to the Department of Education to make an exception where improvement on test scores indicates that continued home education would not be adverse to the child’s interest.
6-15-506. Children Needing Special Education.
(a) Any student who has been identified pursuant to the provisions of Public Law 94-142 and Sec. 6-41-201 et seq. as needing special education services shall not be eligible to meet the requirements of compulsory attendance by participating in a home school program unless the parent/teacher of such child holds a valid certification from the State of Arkansas to teach special education courses in a public or private school.
(b) Any student participating in a home school program whose performance on the tests required by this subchapter indicates the student may be in need of special education service shall be referred for evaluation in accordance with the provisions of Public Law 94-142 and Sec. 6-41-201 et seq. and the regulations promulgated thereunder. If the student is identified as needing special education service, the student shall be enrolled in a public, private, or parochial school unless the parent/teacher of such student holds a valid certification from the State of Arkansas to teach special education in a public, private, or parochial school and submits procedures for implementing an individualized education plan (IEP) which includes specific goals and objectives.
6-15-507. Ineligibility of Home Schools for Local, State, or Federal Funds — Exception.
Home schools authorized by this subchapter shall not be eligible for local, state, or federal funds allocated to a public school district except those funds specifically authorized and allocated to a special education student covered by Sec. 6-15-506.
The letter of intent form says, verbatim: “Give a brief description of the basic core curriculum to be offered, including a list of the subjects to be taught and any home-based curricular materials to be used.” This curriculum is NOT subject to approval by the state. Most people just list the basics, and state if they’re using A Beka, or Bob Jones, or whatever, and that satisfies the requirement. The law does not discuss “approval” of the curriculum itself. Arkansas law is vague. It does not define a “basic core curriculum.” However, section 6-15-502 does grant the State Board of Education the authority to write rules and regulations and to develop procedures concerning the proper administration, monitoring and enforcement of this law. Despite the disclaimer that all information “is to be used for statistical purposes only,” the curriculum requirement is already in the law. All the BOE needs to do is tighten up its definition of a “basic core curriculum.” Unless you then satisfy their new definition, your notification may not be considered “complete.”