Home School High School Form Continues to Be Misapplied

Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE) receives many questions from new homeschoolers.  Unfortunately, a frequent question that they receive relates to a form that some schools are misapplying.  When a high school student leaves the public school to begin home education, only then should the school ask them to sign the form.  Often parents of elementary and middle school students are being asked to sign a form that is only intended for high school students.   non-accredited-memo (1)  This form was developed several years ago as a result of the public school dropout problem.  It was intended to hold the principal, the parents, and the student accountable at the high school level.  It is supposed to show that the principal explained the legal requirements about home education, and the parents and student understood the information.  When properly applied, if a public school high school parent refuses to sign the form, the student is considered a dropout and will lose his driver’s license.

Families are alarmed and confused when they see language that states if they refuse to sign the form, their elementary or middle school student will be considered a “dropout”. Some families had received the form after they had already sent a letter to the school informing them that they have decided to educate their children at home and had begun home education.

IAHE continues to educate the ever-growing homeschool community about the proper use of the form.  IAHE Action will be sending letters to the schools to inform them.  We included a legal opinion with our letter to the school.  You may read IAHE Action’s letter here IAHE Action Signed West Central Elementary and the attorney’s letter here IAHE Action BAT Opinion Letter.

At Work For You

 

30,000 “Homeschool” Dropouts?

During testimony for a School Choice bill in the House Education Committee last week, a school in northern Indiana was there to testify and claimed that they are serving many needy students including “homeschool dropouts”. The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) has data that reports 10,000 students a year for the past three years have transferred to home school. IAHE has been told these are secondary students, but we are unable to confirm if the data that we have received from the IDOE is only secondary student transfers. IAHE was quite surprised to hear these numbers. IAHE volunteers are busy answering many phone calls each week to counsel new homeschoolers, but we certainly have not taken calls from 10,000 new homeschoolers.

For the past several years, we have had concerns about trends that we have observed. We have shared these concerns with legislators, but we had no idea of the magnitude until we saw the data this week.

We have seen an increasing number of new homeschoolers whom have told us that the public school reported their enrollment on the IDOE website because the schools insisted they had to have a homeschool number or “register” with the state in order to legally homeschool. The IDOE website is very clear that only a parent or guardian may report enrollment by completing the online form.  BLOG Featured Image_Action Logo Square BW 10.28.15 SMALL

IAHE was contacted by a family that informed us that the public school signed the student up for “something” but the parent didn’t know what it was. The parent said she was then told to call IAHE. IAHE called the IDOE only to find that the school had reported their enrollment as a homeschooler. As we counseled this family, we learned that this parent really was not at all interested in home education, but unfortunately THE SCHOOL had already added her to the IDOE database of those who report enrollment as a home educator. IAHE then referred this person to their former school or to the IDOE to learn about other educational options that would be a good fit for this family.

IAHE is deeply troubled to see some public schools “reporting enrollment” on the IDOE website on behalf of students only to discover as we counsel them over the phone that these families are in no way interested in home education.

What is the extent of the problem of public school’s mislabeling of students? It appears some of the public schools are reporting to IDOE that many or all of their students who are withdrawing from school as home school students, and we believe they are mixing legitimate homeschoolers with those who should be labeled as expelled or drop outs, but not homeschooling. We have to question if this is being done by principals so that drop-outs are not flagged and therefore it won’t affect the A-F grade that is assigned to public schools.

Our bigger concern is whether this purposeful mis-coding of dropouts as homeschoolers is going to lead to more regulation of home education in Indiana. We have already heard that lawmakers and judges have a distorted view of home education in our state due to the problems some public schools have created by this mishandling dropout students.

We need your help. If you moved your student from public school to home school high school, please fill out this simple survey* to help us validate the data we have received from the IDOE. We have not included student or family identifying information on this survey because we do not desire to keep data on specific people or families. Please feel to share this link to our survey with others who have moved a high school student to home school. Thank you!

*Please note that if you are enrolled in a charter school or any other type of school that uses vouchers, choice scholarship money, or any form of government-funding, please do not fill out this form.  Home schools in Indiana are parent-directed, home-based, and privately-funded which means home educators do not take or desire government-funding due to the associated regulations that necessarily accompany taxpayer funding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harassment of Homeschoolers

Over the past number of years, we have seen the language on the Indiana Department of Education website altered. It simply states:

Parents who choose to home educate their children may report their homeschool’s enrollment to the Indiana Department of Education (IC 20-33-2-21).

 Formerly, questions from Indiana Code were asked, but children’s names were not requested.  The form requested the parent’s and the public school’s information and:

1.) Number of students

2.) Grade level of students    BLOG Featured Image_Action Logo Square BW 10.28.15 SMALL

It is very clear on the IDOE website that only parents may (not shall) report enrollment.

The simple language has morphed into a more detailed form that asks more questions than what is required by law.

With the many astericks for “required” information, parents are confused into thinking that they MUST report enrollment.

The words “Register” Your Homeschool are unfortunately on the Home School page of the IDOE website. This is confusing since the word “register” is not found in Indiana Code in relation to home education.

We are concerned that some public schools do not understand Indiana Code as it pertains to home education. From phone calls, IAHE is hearing accounts from new homeschoolers who have claimed that they felt intimidated and harassed by their local public school when they removed their student to home school.

Others have told us that the school would not allow them to begin homeschooling until they reported enrollment on the IDOE website. Some of these parents felt scared and intimidated by the school.   They were also angry when they learned that reporting homeschool enrollment by the public school was not required by Code.

Others had sent a letter to inform the public school that they were going to homeschool their child. The school insisted that they fill out other forms that included information that was not required by law and had additional misinformation. Sometimes this was sent to the child after they had exited the school.

As we speak to school districts across the state, we have spoken to very nice people in their offices who do not understand the law as it pertains to home education. Their goal is the same as IAHE’s: both want students to receive a great education. Unfortunately, they are unwittingly requiring more than the law requires. IAHE is willing to have the opportunity to work with schools to help them better understand home education.

Have you removed a student from public school to home school?  Please help us by filling out IAHE’s survey.

 

Indiana’s New Science Standards

The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) had asked Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE) to make recommendations for involvement in developing new Indiana Science Standards.  IAHE recommended several homeschool parents with strong science backgrounds who were willing to participate.  Dr. Brent Speelman was contacted by the IDOE to participate.  We have asked Dr. Speelman to update homeschoolers regarding the process.

C. S. Lewis begins his book, The Abolition of Man, with the sentence: “I doubt whether we are sufficiently attentive to the importance of elementary text-books.”

I admit, I was also not sufficiently attentive to Indiana’s education standards before May of 2015 when I volunteered to be involved with the evaluation of new science standards for the state of Indiana. Currently, over one-half of the Kindergarten through second grade standards, two-thirds of the high school biology standards, and all of the high school process standards include the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The second draft of these standards was posted for comment on the Hoosier Association of Science Teachers, Inc.’s home page.

The Next Generation Science Standards are national standards adopted currently by approximately one-third of the states. They were based on a framework created by the National Research Council in 2011. These Next Generation Standards are also aligned with the Common Core State Standards. Appendix L of the NGSS (Connections to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics) states, “To achieve this alignment, the NGSS development team worked with the CCSSM writing team to ensure the NGSS do not outpace or otherwise misalign to the grade-by-grade standard in the CCSSM. Every effort has been made to ensure consistency.” Additionally, in Appendix A, it states, “The NGSS and Common Core State Standards (English Language Arts and Mathematics) are aligned”.

Since Indiana left the Common Core State Standards Initiative in 2014 and developed other standards, the aligned Next Generation Standards could produce an educational dissonance, initially for the K-2 grade band and high school biology, but later for other areas if the Next Generation Science Standards are more fully adopted.

It should be emphasized that Indiana has not fully adopted these Next Generation standards. They have NGSS “process standards” that apply to all high school science classes. A 2010 Indiana science standards document states, “The Process Standards reflect the way in which students are learning and doing science and are designed to work in tandem with the science content, resulting in robust instructional practice.” Consequently, the teaching methods associated with these new standards could be incorporated into Indiana science classrooms. NGSS standards, added to the early grades and to the process standards, could represent what Education Week, in a commentary, referred to as the phased implementation of NGSS—a slower, less disruptive, adoption process.  BLOG Featured Image_Action Logo Square BW 10.28.15 SMALL

I only became involved with physics and integrated chemistry and physics standards group (which do not include the NGSS) for the second round revisions after the first round of public comment (in August). I was impressed with the professionalism and diligence of the group leader I worked with. However, I feel it is important to point out some of the unintended consequences that could result as the Next Generation Science Standards are adopted in other area of science.

If the Next Generation Science Standards are fully adopted, they will, like common core standards, be very difficult to displace.

In a Fortune special report this year, ”Business Gets Schooled”, Peter Elkind reports:

“That said, Common Core has become a reality. Like Obamacare, it’s reviled in many quarters. Yet it’s increasingly impractical to undo. Countless schools have established curriculums designed around the standards, retrained teachers, and bought new books and materials. Reversing course would require redoing all of that again.”

Even more, the Next Generation Standards are unlikely to be revised. The promoters of these standards believe that they, at this particular moment, have produce nearly perfect educational policy. Indeed, Common core is six years old and no one has proposed any mechanism for reform—it is correct, it is evidence based, it has reached a steady state. Alignment with the National Research Council’s canonical A Framework for K-12 Science Education will also maintain the Next Generation Standard’s stability.

The Next Generation Science Standards also limit science content. The writers of the Common Core State Standards always decry the old math and English standards as being “a mile wide and an inch thick”. Similarly, the promoters of the Next Generation Science Standards criticize science education as mere rote memorization of facts, teachers “proliferating” content severed from its context. Consequently, their guiding principle is the broad elimination of science content.

Appendix E of the Next Generation Science Standards states:

“Second, the framework focuses on a limited number of core ideas in science and engineering both within and across the disciplines. The committee made this choice in order to avoid the shallow coverage of a large number of topics and to allow more time for teachers and students to explore each idea in greater depth. Reduction of the sheer sum of details to be mastered is intended to give time for students to engage in scientific investigations and argumentation and to achieve depth of understanding of the core ideas presented. Delimiting what is to be learned about each core idea within each grade band also helps clarify what is most important to spend time on, and avoid the proliferation of detail to be learned with no conceptual grounding.”

As previously mentioned, two-thirds of the proposed Indiana standards for high school Biology incorporate the Next Generation Science Standard for life science. A report, analyzing the life science standards from Fordham Institute, highlights some of the consequences of this limiting of content:

“At the middle and high school levels, the content covered by the NGSS is systematically biased against “difficult” subject matter.

 Thus, for example, even the most elementary biochemistry is given short shrift (not really surprising, considering the general and widespread neglect of chemistry in the NGSS, noted elsewhere in this review). Inadequately treated are molecules small and large, cell biology, genetics, and elementary mechanisms at the cellular and gene levels of morphogenesis and development.”

“Yet students who have no familiarity with the basic molecular features of DNA, proteins, subcellular organelles, gene transmission, and the regulation of gene expression, and whose grasp of biochemistry is limited to vague notions of carbon and energy flow— whether or not college- or science-committed—will be poorly prepared for twenty-first- century encounters with health and disease. They will also be ill-prepared to grapple with life science issues of high public interest: genetically modified crops and foods, cloning, stem-cell therapies, the character and uses of genetic counseling, individualized therapeutics, environmental toxins.”

 The proposed standards for high school biology have added non-NGSS standards to address some of this content limitation; however, it is likely that the new curriculum and textbooks required for these classes will align with the Next Generation standards. The standards that were added to compensate for this limitation will not be addressed with curriculum aligned with NGSS, and consequently, will slowly fade. NGSS becomes the steady state of standards, with curriculum, textbooks, afterschool programs and later, assessments, always driving the process back towards total NGSS adoption.

By limiting the detailed, complex facts of cellular biology, students, deprived of the beauty and grandeur of life’s intricate processes, will rarely be captivated in wonder of life’s details. If science is merely practical engineering practices, no consideration will be given to questions of how all these details, these facts of biology came to be. All that is left is the expedient, the necessary practices that will accomplish useful work. Excluded is the startling fact that every cell in the body contains a code, information that produces all of life. “It’s a code, it’s a code”, could have been proclaimed when DNA’s structure was first determined, but rather, scientists praised natural selection’s cleverness—there is always the presumption of purpose—in producing all this complexity. A simple, unthinking process propagates boundless information. These questions will never be asked by students, if life’s content is delimited.

 

Brent Speelman earned a PhD in chemistry and has worked as a formulation chemist, a development chemist and a college chemistry instructor. His doctoral research involved computational models of epilepsy, while his post-doctoral research investigated the computational biophysics of cold viruses. Additionally, he studied secondary education at Chapman College (now University) in California. He lives with his wife and three children in Mooresville, Indiana.

Virtual Public Charter School Performance in Indiana

Recently, the Indiana Department of Education posted the A-F grades for schools for the 2014-2015 academic school, year.

Some of the performances of virtual public charter schools (VPSs) were disappointing. Since virtual schools provide a literal home based education, VPS’s are sometimes mistaken for homeschooling. It is important to remember there are significant differences between homeschooling and VPS’s.

The key distinction is that a VPS is a public school and receives tax dollars for its operation. The only real difference between a brick and mortar public school and a VPS is the location of the student. Curriculum and on-line instruction in a VPS are provided by public school teachers and the testing and grading system of the traditional public school applies.

In the theory of the VPS model, parents are supposed to be available to help their children and consequently grades should be higher with the increased parental involvement. Unfortunately, by the measure of academic achievement, several VSP’s are struggling to provide a good academic education to their enrollees.  BLOG Featured Image_Action Logo Square BW 10.28.15 SMALL

Two of the major VPS’s did not achieve passing grades – Hoosier Academy Virtual Charter (HAVC) (or K-12 as it is commonly called) received an “F” and Indiana Connections Academy (INCA) received a “D.” Both schools have received the same letter grade for several years.

A partial explanation could be the rapid growth in enrollment experienced by both schools:

HAVC had 204 students in 2011 and 4,151 by 2014. INCA experienced similar growth going from 266 students in 2011 to 3,412 in 2015.

The concern for homeschoolers is to maintain the distinction between VPS’s and homeschooling. A definition of homeschooling is 51% of the child’s education being provided by the parent independent of the state.

We should be aware that if VPS’s continue to underperform the state will attempt to make regulatory changes.

Maintaining the distinction between a VPS and a homeschool is very important because homeschoolers do not want to be inadvertently regulated simply because the child in a VPS is educated in the home.

 

Ian Slatter is the Office Manager at the Tindley Preparatory Academy, a charter school near downtown Indianapolis. From 2003 – 2011 he was the Director of Media Relations at Home School Legal Defense Association. While earning his MPA from Regent University, he worked as an assistant/writer at the Weekly Standard. He then moved to Capitol Hill and served as a legislative assistant and, later, communications director for Congressman Mike Pence. Ian and his wife, Alison, live in Greenwood, Indiana and have 3 children.

Is Registration Required for Homeschooling in Indiana?

Many homeschoolers in Indiana are under the mistaken belief they need to register their  home school with the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE).

This is not the case. Nowhere in the Indiana Code (IC) is there a requirement to register.  BLOG Featured Image_Action Logo Square BW 10.28.15 SMALL

The IDOE would certainly like to know about your homeschool because they are in the business of providing public education services to children.  The language on the IDOE website is confusing and unnecessary, therefore IAHE Action does not recommend using the IDOE website.

While IAHE Action does not oppose homeschoolers notifying the IDOE of their intent to homeschool, we encourage homeschoolers to go to IAHE’s homeschool info page before deciding the best course of action.

 

Ian Slatter is the Office Manager at the Tindley Preparatory Academy, a charter school near downtown Indianapolis. From 2003 – 2011 he was the Director of Media Relations at Home School Legal Defense Association. While earning his MPA from Regent University, he worked as an assistant/writer at the Weekly Standard. He then moved to Capitol Hill and served as a legislative assistant and, later, communications director for Congressman Mike Pence. Ian and his wife, Alison, live in Greenwood, Indiana and have 3 children.

 

 

 

ISTEP+ and Homeschoolers?

It was recently brought to our attention that the Indiana Department of Education had sent a memo to Superintendents and Principals giving guidance related to homeschoolers enrolled in one class in public school and ISTEP+:

Q: Does the homeschool student have to take ISTEP+ and relevant ECA assessments if they are only enrolled in one course?

 A: Students in grades 3-8 and grade 10 in a public school or accredited non-public school must take the ISTEP+ assessments. Students in grades 10, 11, and 12 during the 2015-16 school year must take the Algebra I and English 10 ECAs if they are enrolled in the course(s). WEBSITE RGB Action Logo 400x400

 The concern is in regards to homeschoolers and ISTEP+. Home educators enrolled in one public school are being tested with ISTEP+ on curriculum that they are not using. The purpose of the ISTEP program is designed to “provide a source of information for state and local decision makers with regard to…the overall academic progress of students…the need for new or revised educational programs…the need to terminate existing education programs…student readiness for postsecondary school experiences…(and) diagnosing individual student needs”.

HSLDA attorney, Tj Schmidt, wrote a post about this situation in July:  Homeschoolers Can Skip the ISTEP

If you have concerns about taking ISTEP+ or any tests while enrolled in a class in public school for any reason, contact HSLDA.

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