- Testing time in Arkansas: Are you ready? January 17, 2014
- Information about Common Core December 18, 2013
- Free Big History Curriculum from History Channel October 31, 2013
- Free access to Discovery Education for 30 days September 20, 2013
- Homeschool freebie: Make it Real by Math Mammoth September 14, 2013
Help Support This Blog
Want to test privately this year? I am a certified test administrator for the Iowa and Stanford tests. I can administer tests for your homeschool groups or I administer tests individually. Another option would be to get a group together for testing. Here is a link to my profile. My certification comes from BJU Press.
Arkansas requires that all students in grades 3 through 9 take a norm-referenced standardized test every year. Parents can take the state provided tests at no charge, this option requires that you register for testing and you must go to the state testing site on the day and time you registered for. If you miss that test, you will have to find another option.
Arkansas also allows parents to choose which test their children take. This is the private option. Using a test administrator like myself is one option for ordering and administering a test. Another option is to use one of the testing services listed in the information packet that should be sent out by the end of February. There is a fee for private testing, no matter which test options you choose. Parents must pay for the test and many times for the test administration.
Certain students with disabilities may be exempt from testing. You should carefully read what is required in order to be exempt. Most testing sites can accommodate minor test modifications.
Once testing packets are sent out by the state, I will update this page.
Does Common Core impact homeschool students? This is an interesting question that I do not have a direct answer to. Arkansas has adopted the Race to the Top and Common Core standards. These standards apply to public schools across the state. As of today, they do not apply to homeschools directly, but that could change. As we have seen with the change over to electronic filing of homeschool forms, the Arkansas Department of Education has no problem changing homeschool law without going through the legislature.
New York Public Schools and Wyoming Public Schools have adopted Common Core and joined in Obama’s Race to the Top initiative. Interestingly enough, scores have dropped considerably in both states. The two states are placing the blame on inadequate teacher training for the tests and issues working with a new testing system. These are excuses. If the children were learning, they would know the subject matter on the tests, regardless of the testing format.
Educators Oppose Common Core
This is the beginning of the fall-out for Common Core. Parents who are becoming aware of the dumbing-down of public school curriculum based on Common Core, are starting to voice their objection to the standards. The standards are a one-size-fits-all set of rubrics that do not allow for individual schools to come up with programs to fit their students’ needs. This will eventually overflow into the homeschool arena. If Common Core becomes the law of the land, it stands to change or completely eliminate the ability to homeschool our children as we see fit.
Parents and educators alike in Arkansas and other states oppose Common Core as it is based on an unproven set of standards. The very same model and standards were abandoned by European Countries several years ago. Reason being—these standards do not improve student performance and they simply do not work.
Invasion of Privacy
Another hidden agenda of Common Core is student tracking. States that have adopted Common Core are tracking your kids—not only through test scores but by immunization and other medical records, IEP for special needs students, forms requiring parents to divulge income and employment for school lunch programs, and observations made by teachers and public school staff. The data being collected at the public school level is personally identifiable and there is no protection under the law for these records. They are available to all state and federal agencies.
Arkansas law states that information collected through the Notice of Intent and Waiver Forms, and data collected through mandatory testing of homeschool students can only be used for reporting in ways that are not personally identifying. But this goes against the Race to the Top and Common Core mandates that the state must abide by.
Oregon’s GOP recently adopted a resolution opposing Common Core Educational Standards. Part of the resolution states “Whereas: Common Core is being used to build a comprehensive database to measure students’ progress and gather other personal, non-academic data…” and “Whereas: Data may be obtained not only by questioning students but by the use of facial-monitoring equipment, neuro-psychological testing and senors which are strapped to their bodies and…””
The invasion of privacy associated with Common Core is real. Before Arkansas travels down a path that it cannot easily undo, let’s talk to our legislatures and educators and have Arkansas opt out of Common Core.
I should have written this sooner, as the deadline to file your Notice of Intent and Waiver forms in Arkansas is coming up on August 15. According to state law, you must have your form postmarked by midnight, August 15, in order to be in compliance with the law. Parents can hand deliver the forms to their local Superintendents office. Families new to homeschooling in Arkansas must hand deliver the forms. This year, parents can file the form online—I strongly advise against this.
I am not against the concept of electronic filing. Actually, it is a good idea. When this option first appeared, I was all for it. Finally, I thought, Arkansas is entering the 21st Century.
The parent instruction manual (32 pages) for the online filing option and the emails that are sent from the Arkansas Department of Education contain wording that gives the ADE the legal ability to approve or deny a homeschool application. Nothing in the homeschool law gives the ADE this power. The law specifically states that only the local Superintendent of Schools can deny a homeschool application if one of the following conditions are met:
1) The homeschool student must be transferring from public school to a homeschool AND one of the following:
- The student is currently under disciplinary action and that action has not been completed or the student has been expelled.
- Or, The student has chronic attendance and discipline problems and the Superintendent of Schools believes the parents are attempting to circumvent truancy laws.
- Or, there is a person living in the household who is required to register with the National Sex Offender Database. This does not apply if the person being homeschooled is the offender.
If a parent is not transferring from a public school to homeschool during the year, then the above situations do not apply (except for the sex offender criteria.) As long as a parent files by August 15 for the first semester, December 15 for the second semester or files within 30 days of moving into the state, then there is no waiting period or approval period.
Second, the law states that all new homeschoolers must hand deliver their forms to their local Superintendent of Schools. Online filing is not hand delivering. This is a change in the law and it must go through proper channels to have this changed.
Do not file online this year. Doing so gives the ADE the ability to change the law by default. Make the ADE go through proper legislative channels to change the homeschool law. Too many of us have had to fight too hard for too long to see our right to homeschool be taken from us without a legal fight. Keep the ADE within its legal guidelines. Until the wording in all communications from the ADE is changed or until they post a public notice or press release on their website stating that they are not approving homeschools and this is indeed an error in wording, I strongly advise homeschool parents to file by mail or in person. Do not file your forms electronically this year.
Finally, the state of Arkansas wants to make things easier for homeschoolers by allowing us to fill out and file the Notice of Intent and Waiver forms online. While it may seem that the state is trying to simplify the process, this is actually a power grab by the Arkansas Department of Education(ADE) and it should not be tolerated. I am urging parents to forgo online registration this year and to keep filing by mail.
According to Lisa Crook at ADE, the new electronic filing is a way to track parents who are trying to circumvent truancy laws by homeschooling their children. If you read the Parent Tutorial very carefully, the language changes from review of the parents Notice of Intent and Waiver forms to approval of the forms. This is in direct conflict with the current homeschool law (see the links at the right side of the page) . Nothing in the current law gives the ADE the power to approve or deny a parent’s right to homeschool. The only way a parent can legally be denied the right to homeschool is if their child is currently under discipline by a public school and that discipline measure has not been met, the child is expelled or someone in the home is a registered sex offender.
Another change to the law is the requirement that all homeschoolers file online by 2014-2015 school year. The written law states that all new homeschoolers must bring their forms into the local Superintendents office in person. Requiring new homeschoolers to file online (which by the way is a good idea) is a change to the law which must be done by the legislature or by the governor through an executive order.
Why the uproar? As a close friend of mine put it, “this is a power grab” by the ADE. If enough homeschoolers file online this year, they can claim that they can approve or deny your right to homeschool by default. This new format for filing forms is not about making it easier for homeschoolers, it is a way for the state to start tracking homeschoolers in the same manner as they track the public school kids. It is about taking advantage of homeschoolers who do not know the law. And finally, it is about giving up our rights without consent or knowledge.
Do not give the ADE any power to approve homeschool forms? This is outside of their legal bounds. I contacted the Home School Legal Defense Association about this, but because I am not a paid member they blew me off and suggested that I join HSLDA in order to speak directly with one of their legal representatives. Shows you where their loyalties are, either you have to be an Evangelical Christian fleeing a country that is not homeschool friendly or you have to be a paid member. So what if the Arkansas Department of Education is trying to take away your right to homeschool and to illegally change the law—if you’re not a member, it is not their problem.
I have to admit, I am at fault here. When I submitted my forms online, I only glanced through the parent tutorial (located on the right sidebar, Read it carefully before deciding to fill out the forms online.) It was not until I received the email stating my forms were waiting approval from ADE did it raise an eyebrow. If you look at your pending forms, it will state waiting approval from ADE. These are legal documents and the ADE has hijacked the homeschool law and placed themselves as overseers of homeschoolers.
6-15-502. Rules, regulations, and procedures for monitoring and enforcing provisions.
“ (a) The provisions of § 6-18-201(a) shall be self-executing, and the State Board of Education shall have no authority to promulgate rules, regulations, or guidelines for the enforcement or administration thereof.
(b) The board is empowered to make such reasonable rules and regulations required for the proper administration of this subchapter which are not inconsistent with the intent of this subchapter.
History. Acts 1985 (1st Ex. Sess.), No. 40, § 7; 1985 (1st Ex. Sess.), No. 42, § 7; A.S.A. 1947, § 80-1503.10; Acts 1995,
No. 1296, § 15; 1997, No. 400, § 1”
If you read provision (a) above, it clearly specifies that the ADE cannot change or make any rules or regulations outside of what is stated in the homeschool law. But this whole wording of approval by the ADE for those that file electronically only is in direct conflict with the above quoted law.
As homeschoolers, we should all inform Dr. Tom Kimbrell, Commissioner of Education, that we will not stand for this hostile takeover of homeschooling by his department. It is time to exercise our rights under the law and get the wording of the electronic filing to fit within the current homeschool law. Hold the ADE accountable and make them abide by Arkansas law. If we sit by an do nothing, next year we will all be waiting for state approval before we can legally homeschool.
Sorry this is later than it should be. Cancer seems to be all consuming some days. The good news is that I am done with chemo and I can finally look to returning to a somewhat normal life.
The 2012-2013 Notice of Intent and Waiver forms are available. You can access the forms on the right sidebar. Fill out the forms and send them in no later than August 15, 2012.
If your student is driving this year, make a copy of the form and get the copy notarized. Take the notarized copy to DMV when your student applies for a permit or driver’s license.
Grades three through nine have mandatory testing. You can test your child for free at a local state site in April or you can test privately.
The Arkansas Home School Testing Department is mailing out registration packets to homeschool families starting on January 9, 2012. If you registered as a homeschool prior to December 15, 2011, your packet is in the January 9th mailing. If you started homeschooling after December 15th, your packet will be mailed as soon as the testing office receives your information.
Who has to test?
Any child in grades 3 through 9 is required to take an annual standardized test. If you are a registered homeschooler in Arkansas, you will receive a testing packet in the mail. Packets are mailed to families with children withing the mandatory testing grades. Once you get the packet, you can register for testing.
What are my testing options?
You have the choice of taking the test at a state sponsored location. This option is free, but once you register for a specific location it cannot be changed. If you miss the test, the testing office will contact you. If you skip out on the testing, you can be facing truancy charges.
Another option is to test with a certified homeschool group. This option is also free and the consequences for not testing are the same.
The third option is to test privately. You pay to obtain the test and you are responsible for administering it properly. There are several companies that offer testing. To use this option, a copy of your paid invoice must be submitted to the testing office. This option gives you the most flexibility and if you kids is sick on the scheduled date, you can put off the test for a day or two without any negative consequences.
Kids with special needs
You can request that your child be excused from testing. Proof of a disability or other issues must be submitted to the testing office. You will need a physicians report or other official report to back up your request.
Public School Online
If you are using an online charter school such as ARVA or Lincoln ACE, the school will provide the required testing. Students in these programs do not have the option of testing with homeschoolers and they do not have the option to test privately. Testing packets will not be mailed to parents if their children are enrolled in one of the online charter schools.
For more information, contact the Arkansas Testing Department.
Reminder to all homeschool parents in Arkansas. You must file a Notice of Intent and a Waiver form with your local superintendent’s office no later than Monday, August 15th if you want to be in compliance with the homeschool law. There is a link to the forms on the right-hand side of the screen.
For first-time homeschoolers – the law states that you must hand deliver the forms to your local superintendent on or before August 15th. You do not have to discuss what is on the form with any employee at the office, but the form must be hand delivered.
Student Drivers – if your child is at least 14 years old and you plan on allowing them to drive, make a copy of your Notice of Intent and Waiver forms. There is a section at the bottom that must be filled out and notarized. Leave that bottom section blank until you are ready to take the permit test or road test. Before heading over to DMV, fill out the bottom of the form and get it notarized. Do not send a notarized copy to the school superintendent’s office, it is not necessary.
Other considerations – if you have moved into Arkansas from another state during the month of August, or if you have moved and your local school district has changed during the month of August, you have 30 days to notify the local school district’s superintendent office of your intent to homeschool. The law states as follows:
"Within thirty (30) calendar days of establishing residency within the district, parents or guardians moving into the school district during the school year must give written notice to the superintendent of their local school district of their intent to provide a home school for their children and sign a waiver acknowledging that the State of Arkansas is not liable for the education of their children during the time that the parents choose to home school."
Hope you found this helpful.
The Arkansas Department of Education has posted the new Notice of Intent and Waiver forms on their website. You can download them by clicking on the link located on the right hand side of this page.
These forms must be filled out every year and returned to your local superintendent’s office no later than August 15, 2011. The law states that if this is your first year homeschooling in Arkansas, you must hand deliver the forms instead of mailing them in. For homeschooled teens that are planning to get a license or permit, the forms must be notarized. Make a copy of the form and keep it with you. Your teen will need to show the form when they apply for a license or learner’s permit.
Now that the traditional school calendar has come to an end for the 2010/2011 year, I feel that it is time to say goodbye to a few homeschool friends who have completed their homeschool journey and to welcome those who are just beginning their adventure.
Welcome to all of you: new readers, subscribers, avid fans and anyone who happens to drop by. Expect to see many changes in the coming weeks as I kick off the new Thrifty Homeschooling in Arkansas blog.
As always, as soon as the 2011/2012 Notice of Intent and Waiver forms are available, I will post a link to them here. Same goes for 2011/2012 mandatory testing.
Right now we can look forward to the Homeschool Convention in Siloam Springs, Arkansas on August 4 and 5. The cost is a mere $20.00. You can register here. I will be there covering the events.
SB774 also known as the “Tim Tebow Bill” is set for a third reading by the Senate Education Committee with a recommendation that it passes committee and goes to the Senate.
SB774 if passed, will allow homeschool students to participate in extra-curricular sports and interscholastic activities. When the bill first went to committee, I was hopeful for reasonable legislation. Amendment 2 changed that. There are three amendments to the bill. Amendment 1 was retracted and replaced by amendment 2. This changed the wording of the bill to require homeschoolers wanting to participate to take norm-referenced standardized tests every semester. Although yearly testing is required for all students in grades 3 through 9, public school students do not have to take the benchmarks. Currently, homeschool parents have the option of taking the yearly mandated tests provided by the state of Arkansas.
Requiring testing twice a year for homeshool students wanting to participate in band, choir, dance and sports is excessive. High school students in grades 10 through 12 that homeschool would have to pay for their kids to test. For other students, testing that was done in the spring will not be valid for fall and winter sports. The new version of the “Tim Tebow” law would require testing in the fall prior to trying out for football, soccer, or other sports.
Another drawback to this law is that it opens the door to more rigourous homeschool legislation. I feel that Arkansas needs to allow homeschoolers to participate in public school activities, but only if the homeschool kids are subject to the requirements as public school kids.