Most American families have found themselves entrenched in some sort of at-home education situation during the COVID-19 pandemic, while facilitating long-distance, virtual learning for students that were displaced by government shut downs.
While that has been less than ideal for some families, some national polls are finding that 30 percent of parents are considering a shift to homeschooling for the 2020-2021 school year, given the Florida Department of Education’s recent order that all schools must reopen for in-person classes this fall.
The order, which mandates that all school boards and charter school governing boards must open brick and mortar schools this August for a minimum of five-days-per-week for their students, has been issued at the same time that Florida is experiencing a record-breaking surge in confirmed COVID-19 cases.
According to a recent article by Forbes, prior to the pandemic, the number of homeschooled children doubled in the past five years and was already on the rise before 2020.
Homeschooling is legal across the country but regulations vary from state-to-state. Florida law requires three different homeschooling steps to qualify for at-home learning:
- Parents must provide one-time notice to the local superintendent – we have the contact information for the current Orange County Public School superintendent provided below.
- Parents must maintain a portfolio of their children’s work – you are required to maintain a portfolio/collection of your child’s work for two years and must make it available for inspection by the district superintendent to confirm you are complying with Florida statutes, not to evaluate the contents. The portfolio must consist of a log of educational activities with titles of any reading materials used and samples of any writings, worksheets, workbooks, or creative materials developed by the child. This can be as simple as a binder or file folder.
- Children must be assessed annually by standardized test or portfolio evaluation – This must consist of a Florida certified teacher evaluation the child’s portfolio; taking a nationally-normed student achievement test administered by a certified teacher; taking a test used by the local school district, be evaluated by a psychologist holding an active license; or any other valid measurement tool agreed upon by the superintendent of the district.
- Parents must submit a Letter of Termination and an annual evaluation to the superintendent upon completion of the home education program, enrollment in a public or private school, or if they move away from the current district.
To file a notice of intent to homeschool your children in Florida you must send a written notice of intent to the school district superintendent. The notice must be filed within 30 days of beginning the program and must include the following:
- Name of the home education student(s)
- Parent’s signature
The Orange County Public Schools Superintendent is Barbara M. Jenkins and her office is located at 445 W. Amelia Street, Orlando, FL 32801. You can email her at [email protected].
Curriculum selection is up to each family to choose and many families choose to build theirs around the standardized testing that homeschooled students are asked to take each year. All K-12 state assessments were canceled for the 2019-2020 school year due to COVID-19.
Students who complete a home education program in Florida are not awarded a diploma and many choose to finish their program by taking the General Educational Development test, which you can acquire by calling 1-800-237-5113.
Click HERE for more information on homeschooling from the Florida Department of Education.