Enrollment Choices

Compulsory Instruction

What superintendents need to know

Topics

Unaccredited K-12 Nonpublic Schools

Reporting Violations and Educational Neglect

Accredited Nonpublic K-12 Schools

Reporting to MDE on Nonpublic Student Counts

Other Issues

UNACCREDITED K-12 NONPUBLIC SCHOOLS

1. What do schools, including homeschools, that are not accredited by a state-recognized accrediting agency need to do by October 1?

The first year that a school educates students in your district, it files a Full Report, and in subsequent years it files a Letter of Intent to continue educating the students. We have developed forms that schools may use (but don’t have to use) to report their information. They can also use a different written format such as a form developed by a homeschool advocacy organization or a letter. The superintendent can decide to accept electronic submissions, too.

Find the Full Report and Letter of Intent forms on the School Choice page.

To find out whether a school is accredited, see the list of recognized accrediting agencies. Then, call the accrediting agency to verify that the school is currently accredited. The only accrediting agency recognized as of August 2014 for homeschool accreditation is the Home Based Educators Accrediting Association. Several accrediting organizations are recognized for regular nonpublic schools.

Testing plans: Our forms have space for schools to discuss how they will fulfill annual testing requirements. Testing plans don’t need to be finalized by October 1. Students must be tested each academic year. The school and superintendent must agree on which test to use, when to give it, and whether to use a proctor.

We recommend the Stanford Achievement Test or the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. Both tests are available from the University of Minnesota.

Supplemental testing is required to the extent that the nationally normed test does not encompass all the subject areas covered in Minnesota’s Compulsory Instruction law. State law requires that students receive instruction in basic communication skills including reading and writing, literature and fine arts; mathematics and science; social studies including history, geography and government and health and physical education.

Some exceptions to testing requirements are available based on the qualifications of the instructor. See Minnesota Statutes, section 120A.22, Subdivision 11 (b).

Low scores on nationally normed achievement test: If a student scores at or below the 30th percentile on the nationally normed achievement test, the homeschool parent must obtain additional evaluation of the student’s abilities to determine whether the student has learning problems.

2. How does raising the Compulsory Instruction age to 17 affect reporting for the 2014-15 school year?

Unaccredited regular nonpublic schools and unaccredited homeschools that have existing Full Reports and are filing Letter of Intents do not need to do anything different. However, families who are new to homeschooling must submit Full Reports and testing plans for students up to age 17.

3. What do families do if they begin homeschooling mid-year or move districts when homeschooling?

Families must file Full Reports within 15 days of withdrawing a child from public school to homeschool.

Within 15 days of moving out of the district, the parent must notify the old district of the move and then by October 1 of the next year file the Full Report with the new district.

In subsequent years when the family remains in the same district, the parent files a simpler Letter of Intent to Continue to Provide Instruction by October 1 of each year.

4. What documentation and scores must unaccredited K-12 schools maintain and, in some cases, provide?

State law requires documentation that the required subject areas are being taught be maintained as well as proof that the agreed upon tests have been administered as determined and the scores. This documentation must include class schedules, copies of materials used for instruction and descriptions of the methods used to assess student achievement. See Minnesota Statutes, section 120A.22, Subd. 9 and 10A.22, Subd. 11.

This information must be provided to public school districts upon transfer. It also must be provided to county attorneys in certain situations related to determining whether or not educational neglect or reporting or testing violations have occurred.

Public school districts and other organizations (such as prospective colleges, the military or employers) may require additional documentation such as needed for credit transfer, admission or placement:

• Administration of tests

• Interviews or conferences with the students

• Conferences with the parent/guardian

• Review of the curriculum

• Review of the student’s record of achievement, and

• Review of the work the student completed.

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REPORTING VIOLATIONS AND EDUCATIONAL NEGLECT

5. What if a nonpublic school or homeschool does not comply with reporting requirements, or if I suspect educational neglect?

Reporting and testing issues: Superintendents must handle reporting and testing agreement violations by law. If you can’t resolve the situation, you must write to the commissioner of education documenting the violation and the steps you have taken to resolve it, and request Fact Finding and Mediation. Address your request to: Commissioner of Education, Monitoring and Assistance, 1500 Highway 36 W., Roseville, MN 55113.

If Fact Finding and Mediation does not bring the situation into compliance in the designated time frame, the superintendent must refer the matter to the county attorney for prosecution.

Educational neglect: Superintendents are mandatory reporters of child neglect, including educational neglect. County human services has jurisdiction and must appropriately receive and handle complaints.

Test scores and other documentation in neglect or reporting violation situations: When an educational neglect or reporting violation case is opened under Minnesota Statutes section 120A.26, subdivision 5, or chapter 260C or diverted under chapter 260A, all documentation required to be maintained under the compulsory instruction law and all related test scores must be provided by the nonpublic school or homeschool.

6. Who issues diplomas and transcripts for unaccredited nonpublic schools, including homeschools?

Unaccredited regular nonpublic schools and homeschools issue their own transcripts and diplomas.

7. Do MDE, the Minnesota Nonpublic Education Council, or local school districts validate or certify diplomas and transcripts?

No.

8. Does MDE keep records of nonpublic (including homeschool) diplomas and transcripts?

No. We do not keep records of any nonpublic school students.

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ACCREDITED NONPUBLIC K-12 SCHOOLS

9. What do nonpublic schools that are accredited by a state-recognized accrediting agency have to do by October 1?

The first year that a nonpublic school that is accredited by an agency recognized by the Minnesota Nonpublic Education Council educates one of your resident students, it should notify you of the name, address and birthdate of the student. In subsequent years, the school needs to update you on any changes to this information (formally called a Letter of Intent). The information may be provided to you in a format chosen by the school. Schools that are accredited by accrediting agencies recognized by the Minnesota Nonpublic Education Council do not have state-mandated testing requirements.

Minnesota recognizes only accreditation of schools by accrediting organizations that have been directly reviewed and are currently recognized by the Minnesota Nonpublic Education Council. MDE and the Minnesota Nonpublic Education Council do not recognize proxy or reciprocity relationships that any recognized accrediting agency may establish with other accrediting agencies. Nor does MDE or the Minnesota Nonpublic Education Council recognize accreditation of curriculum programs that may be used in a variety of school types, including homeschools (such as when they use national online or correspondence curriculums) that are not directly reviewed by the recognized accrediting agency.

See a list of currently recognized accrediting agencies. As of August 2014, the only recognized accrediting agency for Minnesota homeschools is the Home Based Educators Accrediting Association (HBEAA). Several accrediting organizations are recognized for accreditation of regular nonpublic schools.

Instructors in the accredited nonpublic schools must meet the minimal educational requirements in the Compulsory Instruction law, meaning that in most—but not all—situations they will be required to hold baccalaureate degrees but not required to hold teacher licenses. For other routes to teacher eligibility in regular nonpublic schools, see Minnesota Statutes, section 120A.22, Subdivision 10.

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REPORTING TO MDE ON NONPUBLIC STUDENT COUNTS

10. How do local superintendents report nonpublic student counts to MDE?

By December 31, every school district must submit an electronic Compulsory Instruction Compliance Report listing the number of regular nonpublic school students by age in their district, splitting out the count of students believed to be in compliance with the Compulsory Instruction law from those that are not. This information cannot be completed until the October 1 reports from nonpublic schools and homeschools are received.

The Compulsory Instruction Compliance Report counts students who reside in your district but attend homeschool or regular nonpublic school. This includes students who reside in your district but attend nonpublic school in another district; it does not include students who live in other school districts but attend nonpublic schools in your district.

Detailed instructions on how to report this is sent every year in the biweekly electronic superintendents’ mailing. Superintendents report information directly into the MDE database through the Data Submissions page.

Compulsory Instruction Compliance Report is different from what is known as the “Fall Report” to MDE School Finance. Information on the Fall Report is found on the School Finance Nonpublic page.

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OTHER ISSUES

11. How does shared time work?

Public school districts must allow nonpublic students, including those in both regular nonpublic and homeschool settings, to receive shared time special education services.

Nonpublic school students without an IEP can also request shared time instruction from any public school in Minnesota but local policy will determine whether the shared time option is available to the student and, if so, what the limitations are.

If the student is not a resident of the intended school district, the intended school district is not required to enroll the student. If the intended district decides to allow the shared time enrollment, it needs to contact the resident district to request the shared time funding. The resident district must comply. The student must be a Minnesota resident to be eligible to generate shared time aid.

12. How is certified public online learning different from homeschooling?

Certified public online learning is public education at home. Homeschooling is private education at home.

Certified public online learning provides free public school curriculum, public school mandated tests, direct instruction and supervision by licensed Minnesota public school teachers and public school diplomas. For more information see the MDE online learning landing page.

Minnesota students in certified public online learning are public school students. If a student enrolls in an online program in a district outside their resident district, they complete a Statewide Enrollment Options form. If the online learning program is offered by a charter school, they contact the charter school for its application.

Minnesota law does not allow nonpublic students, including homeschooled students, to access part-time certified online learning through the state’s shared time law. However, Minnesota nonpublic students, including homeschooled students, may be able to access part-time online learning options by paying tuition to Minnesota certified providers.

13. May nonpublic students participate in Postsecondary Enrollment Options?

Nonpublic students, including homeschoolers, may participate in Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) by applying directly to a participating public or private postsecondary program; school districts are not involved in this process. Students must meet the admissions criteria of the institution.

Regular nonpublic schools do not have to put these courses on student transcripts or count them toward student graduation requirements at the nonpublic school (which differ significantly from public school requirements). However, if a student later transfers to a Minnesota public school, the PSEO courses taken as a Minnesota nonpublic student must be transferred onto the public transcript, even if the nonpublic school had not included them on its transcript.

Nonpublic students, including homeschoolers, are not eligible to participate in PSEO career and technical education options as tenth graders that are available to tenth graders. See the MDE Postsecondary Enrollment Options landing page for more information.

14. Who can participate in district extracurricular activities?

Homeschools and other very small nonpublic schools (of five or fewer students) have a legal right to participate in their resident school district’s extracurricular activities. See Minnesota Statutes, section 123B.49.

For more information and related policies, including voluntary cooperative agreements between public and nonpublic schools, contact the Minnesota High School League at 763-560-2262.

15. Are there special options for driver’s education for full-time homeschooled families?

Full time homeschooling families may contact the Minnesota Department of Public Safety to learn about options for classroom driver’s education. This option is only available to full-time homeschooled students who are matriculating to a home-school diploma.

16. Who determines what credits transfer when a nonpublic student, including homeschooled student, transfers into a public school district?

The public school district determines grade level placement and what and how credits will transfer and align to the district’s curriculum and graduation requirements. See Question 4 in this document for more information about what information by law must be provided to the public school district and what additional information may be sought depending on local policy.

Refusal or delay by nonpublic schools in records transfer: Minnesota’s Compulsory Instruction law forbids nonpublic schools that have received any Aids to Nonpublic Students from delaying transfer of student records to the student’s new school—public, nonpublic or charter—even if the parents of the students have unpaid tuition bills. (Nonpublic schools may refuse to transfer records to the parents, but not a requesting district.) See Minnesota Statutes, section 120A.22, Subd. 7.

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