Colorado’s Homeschooling Laws Make It Easy

There are many reasons people chose to home school their children. Some turn to home schooling because of religious convictions, some because of disabilities, some live so isolated that traditional schooling is logistically prohibitive, and many are simply fed up with the implosion of the public school system.

We have all heard that our public school system has fallen behind other western countries, but how bad is it really? We are ranked 33rd in reading behind countries like Turkey and Mexico. We are ranked 27th in mathematics and 22nd in science. 

A growing number of parents think they can do better. In the United States there is an estimated 3 million homeschooled students. Today in the state of Colorado there is an estimated 9,300 students and that number is reported to be increasing by 15% per year.

Colorado state laws are homeschooled deregulated at best. In 1988, Colorado Senate Bill 56 exempted home school instructors from certification requirements. They are required to notify the local school district of their intent to home school 14 days prior to beginning their home program. The parents or instructors are additionally required to maintain records of attendance and immunization. Homeschooled students are required to be tested or evaluated in the third, fifth, seventh, and ninth grades. It is up to the parents if they want to be tested with the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP). Students wishing to continue to college must take the SAT in the 11th grade.

Other than that, homeschooled teachers have a wide berth when it comes to what subjects they teach, how they teach them, and when they teach them. Some of Colorado’s homeschooled students are educated through a concept called “unschooling” or “open classroom” where they learn from life’s experiences. Rather than a classroom, whether it be in the home or taught virtually, the “unschooled” learn by doing. The philosophy is that most of the lessons from school that have real world applications can be best learned in the real world.

So, what does it take to become homeschooled in Colorado? Not very much, however, if ones goal was to elevate the children’s education to that of, let’s say Korea, then they would probably structure their schools much like traditional schools with state approved or accelerated curricula and online instruction. Homeschooled students consistently outperform their traditional peers in standardized testing.

Is homeschooling the universal answer to our declining global academic ranking? No. Our society as a whole requires a strong and effective public school system; however, Colorado makes homeschooling a viable alternative.

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