1. Moving to a new district, or leaving Ohio

If I'm moving to a new district, do I need to notify the school?

If I already notified for this year, and I’m moving to a new district, do I need to send a new NOI to the new district when I move? And do I need to notify the old school district that we are leaving?


Nope, you are good for that whole year. Our homeschool law is a state law, and you only need to notify once a year, even if you move around Ohio. Next year, when you are preparing to notify again, you will simply notify as usual, to your new district, and include a completed assessment as usual, as it will be a “subsequent notification”, even though it’s a new-to-you district. 


According to OAC 3301-34-03, section F, you may if you wish, request for your old school district superintendent to forward your paperwork to your new district, but he or she is not obligated nor required to do so *unless you ask*, and it is not an obligation or a requirement for you to do so, either. You simply move to the new district, and when it is time for your annual notification to be sent in, you send it to your new district’s superintendent. You will include an assessment form with this notification, since it is not a NEW notification, but a second or subsequent one – even though it is to a new district. Our Ohio homeschool regulation is state- based, not district-level based.

If we move out of Ohio after notifying, what do we need to do?

If you are moving out of Ohio, you do not need to do anything further with Ohio. You do not need to schedule an assessment or a test, or notify the school district that you are leaving (although you can if you want – it is NOT required). You can just leave – and then be sure to investigate and follow the homeschool law in your new state.

2. What goes with a first notification in Ohio

What do I need to include other than my NOI and curriculum list?

Do I need to include report card/test results/any assessment from my previous school/district/state if we are notifying to homeschool for the first time here in Ohio? 


No. A completed assessment is only included with a subsequent Ohio notification. It doesn’t matter if you just moved to Ohio and homeschooled elsewhere, or if your children were enrolled in a private school or public school last year – whatever happened previously, or where, doesn’t matter. If this is your first year notifying to homeschool, your notification will only include the notification and curriculum addendum, as described in the Primer. NEXT year, you will include a completed assessment form along with your NOI and curriculum addendum. (See step 6 of the Primer.)

3. Notification when moving to Ohio from another state

How long do I have before needing to send my notification?

You may have heard that Ohio law requires enrollment in school or notification of your intent to homeschool within 30 days of establishing residency in Ohio, but this is not a law –although it is the established “good practice” guideline. Whether you are buying a home, renting, living with relatives, or living in a van down by the river (heh), it’s all the same. 


If you are living in Ohio (and it is during the regular school year, not summer) and you have been here for 30 days, notification will be to the school district in which you are residing. But do not stress is you are in the midst of moving and suddenly realize it’s been 31 days. Just do it as soon as you can, to avoid potential truancy calls.

If it is summer months when you move, just notify when you can. Most people notify close to the start of the school year in their district (usually August). 

4. Walking the NOI into the office instead of mailing it

Can I bring my notification in personally instead of mailing it certified?

If I decide to walk my notification in to my district superintendent’s office instead of sending it via certified mail (with the additional return signature receipt card), what should I do to make sure I have proof that they have received it, in case anyone claims it was not received?


If you decide to take your notification in personally, you need to receive a signed and dated receipt of your paperwork before leaving the office. You can have the office worker sign a second copy of your notification, or you can print out a second document as a receipt for them to sign and date.  


If they refuse to sign and date your document, or in any way else provide you with physical proof that your notification paperwork has been received, do not leave it with them. Take it to the post office and send your paperwork certified, and pay the additional amount to attach the physical return signature receipt card to the envelope.


5. Approval process or waiting time before beginning

Do I need to wait to homeschool until I have received my child’s excuse from compulsory attendance?

Do I need to wait? My district’s website says that I have to continue to send my child to school until my “application” to homeschool has been “approved”. 


Any district that includes wording such as that on their website is distributing incorrect information. Ohio is a notification state – not an approval state. You do not “apply” to homeschool – you inform them that you ARE exercising your right to do so. It is not an “application” – it’s a notification that informs them of your intent to exercise your right. The superintendent has no right to “approve” or “deny” your right.  When you have notified, you can begin homeschooling – even the same day. You can take your child home from school, send in your notification of intent to homeschool, and start homeschooling – all in the same day. The superintendent has 14 calendar days within which he or she can request additional information, if you forgot something on the notification, but this is not a denial, simply a request for more information.

6. Logging or tracking of hours

Do I need to log or track my 900 hours?

And will this log be sent in with my next notification or asked for at a portfolio assessment? 


No. There are no logs or tracking of hours in Ohio. 


On your NOI, you mark (checkmark, state, initial, X) your assurance that you will provide at least 900 hours of home education. (If you are notifying in letter form instead of the form, you just state your assurance.) That is all. It is written as “home education” specifically, and not as “school hours” and not “instruction”, as it is often wrongly called on websites and district letters. “Home education” means whatever you decide it to mean in your family. It was specifically chosen to be "home education" in our regulations, which can and does encompass all parts of life for your family. 


You do not need to track or log your home education experiences. 


Even if you decide to log hours for your own information, this would just be for YOUR info, and the log should NOT be turned in to your district at the end of the year or with your next notification. (A log should also NEVER be asked for with a portfolio assessment. If your assessor asks for such information, that is a good indication that he or she doesn't know her job, and should not be hired by you.)


IF you do decide to log hours, be honest and log EVERY learning opportunity. And good luck with keeping up with that! :)

7. Assessment options in Ohio

What are the options in Ohio for my annual assessment?

At the end of every completed notification year (NOT the first notification!) you must choose one option for assessment prior to notifying again - typically either a nationally-normed, standardized test, or a portfolio review (“narrative assessment”) with an Ohio licensed or certified teacher. (There is actually a 3rd option as well; see below. )


If you choose a standardized test, the only thing you send into the superintendent is the overall, composite score, written on the Standardized Test Assessment Form.  You do NOT need to send in a copy of the test - only this form.

The portfolio review ("narrative assessment") option sounds intimidating, but it can be one of the most helpful and easy things about homeschooling in Ohio. If you choose the portfolio review, all you send into the district is a signed assessment form which states:

“ I hereby attest that a portfolio of samples of <child name>’s work was reviewed by me for the 20____ -20____ academic year and is in accordance with his/her abilities.” 


That one  delightfully vague, signed and dated statement IS the entirety of the “narrative assessment”.  This is signed by the Ohio licensed/certified teacher (of your choosing, not the school's) who performs the assessment. You do not send in portfolio samples to the superintendent -- only this signed assessment form. 


Copies of these forms are available on the Forms page. You will send in one of these two options, along with your next notification of intent to homeschool. This notification with test or assessment review form must be sent in every year following your first notification year (“subsequent notification”), if you intend to continue homeschooling your child in Ohio. 


A completed assessment form should not be sent on its own without the subsequent notification. If you are instead enrolling your child in school or have moved to a new state, then you will not send in an assessment. 

What is the "third option" for assessments?

Most Ohio homeschoolers do one of the two year end assessment options: either a portfolio review, or a nationally-normed standardized test. The portfolio review typically must be reviewed by a currently certified Ohio teacher. You can, however, petition your district superintendent to use an “Other person mutually agreed upon by the parent(s) and the superintendent”. This can be yourself, your spouse, or someone else you think should be your designated person. Petitioning for this option is not guaranteed, but it is an available option you can try to utilize. Instead of a portfolio review or a standardized test, you can also work out another mutually-agreed upon other assessment.


Any of these “mutually-agreed” other options must be agreed upon by your superintendent PRIOR to sending in your subsequent notification. Usually this can take weeks or months to work out, and there is no recourse for you if the superintendent does not agree. It MUST be mutually agreed, and the superintendent can disagree for any or no reason at all. 

If I leave Ohio or enroll in school, do I need an assessment?

If you are enrolling your child in school or have moved to a new state, you will not send in an assessment. You can still do one and keep it for your records, but it is NOT sent in to your school superintendent.

8. A child who turns 6 during the school year

Do I need to notify for my child after he/she turns 6, if it’s during the school year?

His/her birthday falls after the first day of school in my district. Do I need to notify?


No. Unless you are pulling your child from school mid-year (see Question #9), you will not need to notify until the start of the NEXT school year. Even if your child’s birthday is the next day after school starts in your district (or, rarely, a different date noted by your district) you will not need to notify until the following year. 


If your child has a birthday around August or September, it is a good idea to check to see when school starts in your district for the year he or she will turn 6. If your child will be age 6 on or before that date, then you need to notify.


9. Removing a child from public K or PreK

Do I need to notify if I decide to withdraw from public preschool, since he/she is not age 6?

No, if you are pulling a preschool age child from public school preschool program, you do NOT notify of your intent to homeschool that child. Even if he or she is in a public school-funded program it does not “count” as being in enrolled in the system. Just withdraw your preschooler and start having fun at home. 

What about if I pull my under-compulsory age child from Kindergarten?

If you are pulling a Kindergarten child from public school kindergarten, and school has already started, then unfortunately even if they are under the compulsory age of 6, enrolling a child into public school Kindergarten makes them compulsory age, and you will need to send in an intent to homeschool notification to withdraw them from the system (see the Primer for the How-to on that).


If your child has never been in public school kindergarten, then you will NOT need to notify for homeschooling until your child is compulsory age (6 by the first day of school in your school district.) 

We've registered for K, but school hasn't started yet and I've changed my mind. Do I need to notify?

No, if your child has not yet attended the first day of school, then your child is NOT YET compulsory, even though you registered for him or her.


As the parent, you can decide to keep your child home simply by calling the school and letting them know you have changed your mind. This is often called "red-shirting", and many people do it even when they have no intention of later homeschooling, because they decide their 5 year old is just not ready. Do not mention that you are homeschooling - there is no need to open that can of worms with office staff that does not understand homeschooling laws. Simply tell them them you have decided to "red-shirt" your 5 year old this year.

10. Work to keep for portfolios

If I do a portfolio review, what do I need to keep as proof of my year?

Every assessor has different expectations on what he or she will want to review. It is best to interview and find an assessor first, and ask the assessor what materials he or she will be expecting to see. Some assessors are more traditional in their approach, and some are experts in doing assessments for unschoolers and will be able to do an assessment based on far more untraditional methods than you might expect. It just depends on the individual assessor. If your assessor asks for information that doesn’t seem to fit with your homeschooling style, you are free to pick a different assessor who is more in line with your methods. 


There is no list of approved assessors from which you must choose, and you should be wary of choosing an assessor from a list provided to you by the schools. (The assessors listed might be wonderful homeschool assessors, or they might not. You still should interview him or her before agreeing to hire the assessor- don’t pick someone based on a list provided by your school.)


Homeschooled families are best served by finding an assessor who is a homeschool parent themselves, or someone who is an advocate for homeschooling in some capacity. We have a list of assessors who have been interviewed by OHP and vetted as homeschool advocates, if you would like a place to start your search.

11. Finding curriculum for homeschooling

How do I find homeschool curriculum? Is there a list of approved curriculum for Ohio?

There is no approved curriculum list for Ohio. Curriculum choices – if you even decide to use curricula- are completely up to you as the parent, and the state is not allowed to approve or deny any curriculum choices. That leaves the choices completely up to you – which is a wonderful thing, but can also be frightening for all the choices out there! Where to start? Thirty years ago, homeschoolers had much more limited choices, and many of them homeschooled with nothing other than a library card (and a Bible, if they were Christians). Now, the possibilities are endless. 


Here are some good starting places to investigate curriculum and learning styles: 


 Homeschool Resource Roadmap, which lists a free database of multiple thousands of curriculum choices, along with the curriculum or resource’s stance on Common Core. 


An additional part of the website is the Rest Stop: How-To Helps page, which contains many useful articles for getting started with curriculum, including: “How to Choose Curriculum”, “Is the Perfect Curriculum Out there?” and “What About Grade Level?” 


Cathy Duffy’s books and website


Starting Out Right at Home: Important information about de-schooling (often confused with “unschooling”, but it’s not the same thing). It’s best to not jump right from a school situation directly to a curriculum, as doing so most often leads to burn out, by both parent and child. This is caused by trying to recreate a stressful situation right in the home – only with the added stress of you having a much deeper vested interested in the success of your children than even the best classroom teacher. Before investing time and money into curriculum, read the info on that website!


Home Learning Year by Year, by Rebecca Rupp (non-affiliated Amazon link) - Suggested lists of topics and subjects to cover. Remember that there is no set curriculum you need to follow, whether in regards to “what your child should know”, or as it relates to the state; this is only one possibility, just as public school scopes and sequences are decided (and change about twice every generation). Available as a book only; check your library or bookstore or Amazon.

Also, see the Homeschooling Resources page on this site for a list of helpful books.

12. Graduation and college acceptance

What about high school diplomas and college acceptance?

Will they be accepted into college after homeschooling high school? 


A homeschool diploma (issued by the parent) is equally valid and legal under Ohio law as any other school diploma. A GED is not required, nor is it considered even ideal, to be obtained, as a GED signifies no high school completion, and a homeschool graduate *has* completed a high school education. Colleges have time and again recognized the validity of a homeschool education, and have in recent years actively recruited homeschool graduates. You, as the legal administrator of your legal homeschool, set the graduation requirements for your school. We are not bound to any of the ODE’s graduation requirements (including course of study or graduation tests), as those are set for public schools only. Once your child has fulfilled the requirements that YOU set for YOUR school, YOU can decide to issue your child a diploma. 


Most families follow a general course of study, and often, the best thing to do for a college-bound student, is to investigate the entrance requirements for the college or colleges he or she is considering, and gear your high school program toward that goal. This is just for your use, however- there is no specific course of study which must be adhered to in order to receive a high school graduation diploma. For college acceptance, your diploma (which is a ceremonial document) is of little importance. What most colleges will be looking for are high school transcripts (which you can also legally write) and college entrance exams. 


For more information on homeschool high school programs and college acceptance, we recommend checking out Lee Binz’ website called The Home Scholar/Home High School Help


AGAIN, a homeschool diploma is EQUAL in validity under Ohio law.

What is the “diploma fairness law” (enacted July 2015)?

A high school diploma is simply a ceremonial document that attests to the fact that he or she has completed your legal homeschool’s high school requirements (see the explanation in the last question). You have always been legally allowed to issue your own diploma (either print your own at home, or use a diploma printing service). You are the school. You are the administration of your school. It is your right to create and print your own ceremonial document for your school. The ONLY change with this law, is that IF the validity of your child’s high school diploma is challenged by a college or workplace, he or she can show their last compulsory age letter of excusal to "prove" to any naysayers that you homeschooled according to state law, and as such, your diploma is as valid as a diploma from the school down the road. It does not make your ceremonial document any more legal than one printed for the school down the road. It is simply something to hold in your back pocket to show if anyone questions the legality of homeschooling. 


You simply keep your child’s last compulsory aged notification letter of excuse from attendance, and that will be your “proof” of your compliance with state law, if their diploma is challenged. 

13. Withdrawing from public online and private schools

How do I withdraw my child from an e-school (public school at home, such as OHVA, Connections, etc)?

Simply follow the steps outlined in the How to Homeschool in Ohio – Primer page. The day you send in your notification to your superintendent’s office, you can call or email the e-school and let them know your child is not continuing with the program. Ask for labels or anything else they need to send you to return their computers and other materials. You do not need to wait until your notification paperwork is processed to withdraw your child from the e-school. 


You can fill out their forms if you want, but it’s just a courtesy for them – the only legal document is your Notification of Intent to Homeschool, and this goes to your local district superintendent – NOT the charter/e-school. 


Do not feel like you need to provide any information other than that your child is being withdrawn. They do not NEED to know that you are homeschooling, and they most certainly do not need to know your curriculum choices. Write "N/A" through any request for such information. 


Remember, Ohio is a notification state, not an approval state, and there is NO wait time, despite what the staff of the e-school might try to say. Once you have sent in your notification (send it certified with return signature receipt, as stated in the Primer), you can keep your children home and begin homeschooling the same day. (See the info above in #11 concerning curriculum choices.)

How do I withdraw my child from a private school?

See the steps outlined above for withdrawing from an online/charter school.


The only thing you should do additionally, is file a withdraw notice/form with your private school. This is not a legal step, but simply helping the private school with navigating their own internal processes. There is no legal form this for, as it is just a courtesy, so your private school should have this form to fill out. 


Do not feel like you need to provide any information other than that your child is being withdrawn. They do not NEED to know that you are homeschooling, and they most certainly do not need to know your curriculum choices. Write "N/A" through any request for such information.

14. Standardized tests options in Ohio

Is there a list of acceptable standardized tests that Ohio allows?

First, testing is NEVER required in Ohio. It is one of the assessment options.  (See #7 above for assessment options.)


ANY nationally normed standardized test is acceptable. The ODE website publishes a list of “accepted tests” on their homeschooling information page, but that document is for enrollment into school programs, and not related to homeschooling. The only requirement under Ohio regulations is: IF you choose to do a test for your annual assessment, it must be a nationally-normed standardized test. There is great list of possibilities, including where to purchase the test and the requirements for the test, at this website:

http://hsroadmap.org/common-core-project/standardized-tests/

Does a teacher have to administer the test, or do I need to have my child tested at my school?

If you choose a test that allows the parent to administer the test, then you can administer the test. This would fall under this part of Ohio code: “OAC 3301-34-04 (B) (iii) A person duly authorized by the publisher of the test.”


You do not need to have your child tested at the school, and we discourage this as well. Children within the public schools are being opted out of these tests because of data mining and many other good reasons. (Just ask many of your public school family friends.) Schools are trying to fill those empty seats by offering them “for free” to homeschoolers, because they get funding for every child in a testing seat. That ‘Free’ dangling carrot is not worth the exchange of your child's data and your right to not submit test results that are unsatisfactory.

What score is considered to be satisfactory?

A composite score of a minimum 25th percentile is considered  performing at a level of reasonable proficiency.


If your child scores below this 25% composite - do NOT submit this score! Just find a homeschool assessor and send in a narrative assessment form this year instead. (This is one of many good reasons why we do not recommend testing at the schools.) 


When testing, the scores should come to YOU, not directly to the school, and then you can decide to submit it as your annual assessment or not. Many people test for their own information or for their child's practice, but then send in a narrative assessment instead, as they do not believe the school has a right to test scores on students they do not educate. In any case, if you have the test scores sent to you, then you as the parent can make that choice instead of the school.


A test score under 25th percentile composite would require a plan with the superintendent for remediation, as noted in the law code here. There is no reason to go through with that when you can just have a portfolio review done instead. Sometimes very bright children just do not test well, but this doesn't mean they need a year of remediation.

15. Testing requirements in Ohio

Do I have to test if we homeschool? Third Grade? Ohio Graduation Test?

Nope. Never again. You can CHOOSE to do a nationally-normed test for your annual assessment if you want to (see #14 above) and you can choose to have your child do a college entrance test in high school, but it is your choice. It is not required – not for annual assessment, not for third grade, not for high school graduation. 


Welcome to real learning instead of teaching to a test!

16. Required subjects and topics in Ohio

Do I really need to teach all those subjects every year?

My school doesn't teach X subject for Y grade, so why do I need to find a curriculum for every one of those subjects?


No. YOU decide what you want to teach, and when. 


In OAC 3301-34-03 (5), the regulations state the following:


“(5) Assurance that home education will include the following, except that home education shall not be required to include any concept, topic, or practice that is in conflict with the sincerely held religious beliefs of the parent”


First, there is an important exception above : “except…any concept, topic, or practice that is in conflict with the sincerely held religious beliefs of the parent”. If you have a conflict with any of them, you should not feel obligated to note it or to explain it.


You are simply giving an assurance that your home education will include those topics. NOT that you are going to have a class or textbook for each of those. Remember that schools don’t have a class in Ohio history every year. You can give your assurance that those topics will be covered, and you actually WILL cover many of them, in field trips, museums, and real life. For example, fire safety can be “covered” in talking with your children about fire escape routes in your home or visiting a fire station open house. No class or curriculum needed.

17. Extracurricular access for homeschooled students

Can my child participate in sports, band, or other classes and activities at my local public school?

The Extracurricular Homeschooler Access law allows Ohio students who are homeschooling guaranteed access to public school extracurricular activities, such as sports. This is guaranteed access, not guaranteed a spot on the team. Activities that follow under this law are not up to the discretion of the school superintendent. If your student participates, he or she needs to meet all eligibility requirements as any other student, such as paying any fees, and submitting regular grade reports.


This law does not include any class or activity that is graded, which usually includes bands and choirs. These are considered curricular, or co-curricular. You might be able to get involved in these activities, but it is entirely up to the discretion of your local superintendent, and they can agree or deny for any or no reason.


You may also need to jump through more hoops that you want to consider, such as enrolling part time in school, giving up your autonomy, submitting to state tests, etc. It’s usually easier and more preferable to just join a homeschooled version. We maintain a list of Homeschool Groups and Activities, arranged by area of the state.

18. Work permits for minors

Does my homeschool teen need a work permit, and if so, how do we get one?

Home educated minors do need to obtain a work permit to work during the usual school year, just as any other student. (No work permit is needed for summer work.)


Work permits can be obtained at your local high school, or downloaded from the internet. If you download the forms, you will still need to bring them to your local high school office worker (not the superintendent or board of education) to have the work permit signed. It may be an antiquated law, requiring a school that we have no part of, to sign off on our children's work permits, but it is currently Ohio law.


Here is Ohio law on minor work permits:

http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/4109


Here is the work permit application, if you wish to download your own:

https://www.com.ohio.gov/documents/PreApp.pdf


Here is the doctors' certificate which must also be signed to obtain the work permit:

https://www.com.ohio.gov/documents/Physpreapp.pdf

19. Re-enrollment into school following homeschooling

If we decide to enroll back in school, how do we do that?

Grade level placement and credit transfers (for high school) following home education are ultimately up to the school superintendent. However, Ohio law does state the following: The school district of residence shall enroll or reenroll a child who has been home educated without discrimination or prejudice.


In placement decisions, the superintendent can look at three determining factors:

  • The child's most recent annual academic assessment report
  • Requiring the child to take any or all of the nationally normed, standardized achievement tests that are regularly scheduled for district pupils of similar age; and
  • Other evaluation information that may include interviews with the child and/or parent(s).

While placement is ultimately up to the superintendent, and when you enroll your child, you ultimately lose the freedom of that automony in the decision making process, it is important to hold the superintendent into following Ohio law, also, so keep in mind the words without discrimination or prejudice.

Here is a link to Ohio law on Placement in school:
https://codes.ohio.gov/oac/3301-34-06v1

20. Superintendent responsibilities

Where do I send my notification? My school says to send it to an ESC office, not the superintendent.

Mail your notification packet to the attention and address of your local district superintendent. The district can forward your paperwork on if they wish, to another office, but our responsibility is to follow the law; what they do with it once it arrives at their office is now their responsibility, and on their watch.


Since Ohio regulations state that the superintendent (not any other school employee) has 14 calendar days to review the notification and ask for additional information, it is VERY important that we send it to the local district superintendent only (certified and with signature receipt) so that we can know exactly what date it was received by the superintendent and by whom. If we send our notification to some other office, for the school's convenience, we will have no way of knowing when that other office sends it to the superintendent, and therefore no way of knowing when their 14 calendar day clock runs out. 


The school could claim, even months later, that the superintendent just received your notification, so you would need to comply with replying to a request for more information. Sending it to the local district superintendent only, despite a school"s requests otherwise, protects your rights.

Does my excusal letter have to be signed by the superintendent? The letter I received is not.

Yes. The letter of excuse from compulsory education MUST be signed by your local district superintendent, and no other school office worker. This was clarified in Ohio law in 2014.

Revised Code Section 3321.04 formerly noted the “city or exempted village school district or the educational service center.” However, the law was amended to read the “superintendent of the school district in which the child resides.”


The Ohio Department of Education published a letter of notice of responsibilities to school superintendents in the summer of 2017. This letter clarifies the superintendent's responsibilities. If your school district is not following Ohio law, consider printing out a copy of this short letter and sending it to them if you need to follow up on an improperly signed excusal letter. That letter is linked here:
Responsibilities of the District Superintendent