Quick Rules for MN Homeschoolers
by Kim Jaworski, Homeschool Resource Specialist
You need to submit your letter of intent to your school district superintendent by Oct 1 or within a week of withdrawing your child from school. You only need to list children who are 7 or older on Oct 1 of this school year. So any younger children can be left off, unless they previously attended a public school. Children who were previously enrolled in Kindergarten or first grade are on the “school census” so you have to officially withdraw them and include them on your form. You don’t have to use any specific form, though there are several versions online and your school may provide one on their website, if you want to use one. A letter stating that you will be homeschooling, listing the children’s names and birthdates, your home address and your choice of test (name of test, name of tester, location of testing and date of testing- though just the month and year of planned testing is fine). There is a technicality in the statute that says that you and the superintendent must agree on the test to be used (and that you must use a Nationally normed and standardized test of academic achievement), so it’s helpful to put in a line that says you are assuming your test choice is agreed upon unless you hear from the superintendent’s office in writing within 10 business days. (one additional point- you are not required to submit test scores to anyone. They are for your use in planning and charting progress. If your district requests proof that you did your testing for the year, your receipt for the testing fee is proof.)
If either parent has a different last name than any of the children, it’s also a good idea to have a brief statement saying that you are the children’s parents/legal guardians and your signatures, as that relationship is what gives you the legal right to homeschool the children. Even if you’re homeschooling them, you can also enlist the aid of other instructors like tutors, piano teachers, Spanish teachers, co ops, etc. But you, as the parent are coordinating the education of your children.
You are also required to turn in immunization documentation for the children or a conscientious objection form addressing the immunization issue.
If your district presses you for additional information beyond what is required (they are often confused about what they are to keep on record), a useful reply tactic is to say "can you show me where in the statute that is required, because I'm not seeing it?" That typically resolves the matter, as they are unable to quote the statute to support their request because it isn't in there. I've been involved in the homeschooling community (as a homeschooling mom, MHA board member, tester and resource person) for over 20 years. Various districts get a new person on staff and start asking for weird stuff. Homeschoolers push back and things settle down again. It's usually a lack of information that causes the issue.
Beyond that, you are required to keep documentation through the year that can prove you provided instruction in the following subjects, though you are not required to teach every subject every day or even every week.
Instruction must be provided in at least the following subject areas (per Mn Statute):
(1) basic communication skills including reading and writing, literature, and fine arts;
(2) mathematics and science;
(3) social studies including history, geography, economics, government, and citizenship; and
(4) health and physical education.
An easy way to keep this documentation is “portfolios”, basically a schooling scrapbook of your year. For more info on portfolios, see my website resource pages.
Testing options: You’re required to do an annual assessment for each child who is 7 or older as of Oct 1 of your school year. The first year that you report, you have until Oct 1 of the next year to complete the testing. After that the requirement just says “annual” so it isn’t tied to a school calendar. If you tested in 2020, you must test again in 2021, but it doesn’t have to be 12 months from the first test.
Some of the tests that meet the requirement in MN (Nationally normed and standardized Academic Achievement test) are the Peabody Individual Achievement Test, the California Achievement Test, the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, the Woodcock-Johnson Test of Achievement and the PASS test. If you are looking at other testing options, be sure it is Nationally Normed. Regional tests or those created to the Common Core guidelines may not qualify. The test provider should be able to provide you with norming data. Just because a test is given in a variety of states does NOT mean that it was Nationally normed.
In Mn, you can deduct most (if not all) of your homeschooling expenses on your MN Income Taxes. This is not true of most states. There’s a full article walking you through this process on my website under MN resources. If you use a tax preparer, feel free to print off my info and share it with them. If they don’t have many homeschooling clients, they may not be well versed on this and there are many common misperceptions about the deductions (or possible credit if you fall within those income guidelines—no income guidelines for the deduction!). Keep a record of all of your purchases and sort it out at tax time as things can change from year to year.
For more information/resources for Mn homeschoolers, click below.