In 1975 the number of children receiving home-based instruction in the state of Georgia was about 10,000. According to the Georgia Home Education Association, that number had grown to 34,363 by the end of 2004, an increase of nearly 25,000, or three and a half times the number in 1975. This growing trend of home-based instruction is not confined to Georgia.
A number of factors contribute to a family’s decision to homeschool. Some students are removed from the public school setting for either medical or religious reasons. Many parents prefer not only the ability to include religion in their curriculum, but also the flexibility and low teacher-to-pupil ratios that home-based instruction allows. Students struggling in particular academic areas are able to work with the instructor on a one-to-one basis, which allows the student to master material before the instructor moves on to new or more complex concepts.
Because of compulsory attendance laws in the state of Georgia, all minors between the ages of six and sixteen must be enrolled in and regularly attend school. However, parents do have the right to decide in what manner their students are schooled. One viable option is homeschooling. The homeschooled student is required to be instructed in reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science. This instruction must take place for at least four and a half hours per day, barring any medical conditions that prevent the student from complying, and must last for at least 180 days per year. These are the same requirements to which students who attend publicly organized institutions must adhere.
Homeschooled students are also subject to standardized tests, which are administered every three years. Although homeschool programs are not required to follow a set curriculum, a few regulations must be met in order for such a program to continue. In addition to the testing requirements, the teacher must also submit monthly attendance records and write an annual progress report, which is retained for three years. The local school superintendent may request to see these reports, but teachers are not required to submit them.
Should a home-study student wish to enter a public high school, he or she will be held to that school’s requirements. These requirements include state testing as well as the accumulation of Carnegie units for credit.
Students who are homeschooled in Georgia are eligible for a General Education Development, or GED, diploma. Homeschooled students are also eligible for federal financial aid and can apply to and enter Georgia’s postsecondary institutions. Students must often take as many as seven subject-specific SAT II tests in order to enter some of these state schools. The subject tests are required in addition to the SAT I and any other entrance exams to which all of a particular institution’s applicants are subject.