Demystifying the Regulations

By Kathrine Houk

Updated 2006 by John Munson

Homeschooling Reports

New York’s home education regulation (section 100.10 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education) consists of several pages (at least four if you still want it to be legible) and lots of text. With all that material, it is easy to lose track of what actually needs to be submitted to the school district. The following is a listing of the documents which must be submitted with a brief description of each. It is always a good idea to send correspondence to the school district certified mail, return receipt requested so that you have proof that it was received.

Notice of Intent

The notice of intent can consist of a simple statement that, “We intend to educate our child___________ at home for the 2006/2007 school year.” In some instances parents may want to write more, but this simple statement is all that is required. The notice of intent must be in writing and must be addressed to the superintendent of the school district of residence.

Individualized Home Instruction Plan (IHIP)

In New York, the IHIP must include:

(1) the child’s name, age, and grade level;

(2) a list of the syllabi, curriculum materials, textbooks, or plan of instruction to be used in each of the required subjects listed in subdivision (e) of this section;

(3) the dates for submission to the school district of the parents’ quarterly reports as required in subdivision (g) of this section. These reports shall be spaced in even and logical periods;

(4) the names of the individuals providing instruction; and

(5) a statement that the child will be meeting the compulsory educational requirements of Education Law section 3205 through full-time study at a degree-granting institution, meaning enrollment for at least 12 semester hours in a semester or its equivalent, if that is the case. In this situation, the IHIP shall identify the degree-granting institution and the subjects to be covered by that study.

Items 1, 3, and 4 are usually easy. The substance of the plan is in item 2. By its terms, there appear to be four options: 1. a list of the syllabi (a syllabus is a summary outline of a course of study) or 2. curriculum materials or 3. textbooks or 4. a plan of instruction.

Item 5 result of the Regents’ September 2004 changes which applies only to full-time college attendance by a child who’s still of compulstory attendance age. This is a rare occasion.

Home educators who use a packaged or conventional curriculum may find it relatively easy to prepare syllabi, curriculum materials, or a list of textbooks. However, those who use more of an unschooling approach (e.g. participant directed learning or a discovery approach) may find it more difficult to prepare such specific information. The alternative is to prepare a plan of instruction. But what is that?

If a plan of instruction were simply a summary outline of a course of study, it would be unnecessary to include this option in the regulation as it is already covered under the term “list of syllabi”. Rather, a plan of instruction provides an opportunity to explain your approach to education your plan for producing a well educated child. This sounds good but a bit abstract, and perhaps it will be too abstract to pass muster with your local superintendent.

One solution to this dilemma is to ground your plan in the types of learning skills that are familiar to school personnel, and one way to do this is to obtain a “who does what when” outline for typical substance and skills studied at different grade levels. One such outline is a “Typical Course of Study” which covers grades K12 and is published by World Book Educational Products. Another source for such information for grades K6 is “How to Write a Low Cost /No Cost Curriculum for Your HomeSchool Child” by Borg Hendrickson.

You should be aware that although the home education regulation provides four alternatives for the substantive part of the IHIP, the Commissioner of Education has interpreted his regulation to mean there are only two alternatives either a list of syllabi, curriculum materials and textbooks (all three) or a plan of instruction.

This will not make a difference if you use the plan of instruction alternative. However, it might make a difference if you plan to use any of the other three. If you want to use just one of the three, try doing so on the basis that that is what the regulation requires. If the superintendent is aware of the Commissioner’s interpretation, you may want to revise your approach.

A good practice for developing any plan is to avoid overdoing it. Draw up a plan with which you are comfortable (both in terms of what you want to do with your children and in terms of what you are comfortable giving to the superintendent). Usually the district will accept what you submit. If the superintendent wants more information, he or she will tell you so, and you can add to the plan at that time.

Quarterly Reports

As with the IHIP, be familiar with what the regulation requires. Quarterly reports must contain:

(1) the number of hours of instruction during said quarter;

(2) a description of the material covered in each subject listed inthe IHIP;

(3) either a grade for the child in each subject or a written narrative evaluating the child’s progress; and

(4) a written explanation in the event that less than eighty percent of the amount of the course materials as set forth in the IHIP planned for that quarter has been covered in any subject.

Although the State Education Department recommends that the number of hours per subject be included for the secondary grades, the regulation requires only that the cumulative number of hours per quarter be reported. For grades 16, the required number of hours per quarter is 225; for grades 712, it is 247.5. Families often put 225+ for the number of hours at the elementary level and 247.5+ for the number of hours at the secondary level

For item 2 it is helpful to keep good records of what you have done. These records don’t have to be elaborate, but they should enable you to generate a description of the material. This is particularly important for unschoolers who may not be able simply to tick off specific items in a curriculum.

Item 3 is fairly straight forward. Grades are probably easier, but many people object to the idea of grading.

Item 4 reflects the flexibility of the home education regulation. It recognizes that a plan is only a plan and not an unchangeable commitment. It allows families to respond to the needs and interests of their children and to accommodate events which may make it undesirable or impossible to follow the plan to the letter. This provision may be particularly important for unschoolers who tend to have a very flexible approach to covering material. Depending on how your IHIP is written and on what your children do during the quarter, you can either indicate that 80% of the course materials have been covered in all subjects or give an explanation of why less than 80% was covered in any subject.

The regulation does not establish any penalty for completing less than 80%; it simply requires an explanation. Possible explanations might include that the child became fascinated with ocean liners (or whatever the case may be) and you spent much of the quarter studying their history, how they operate, measuring distances, calculating fuel needs, etc. It is helpful to mention, if possible, how the skills the child mentioned in the IHIP were being developed in an alternative way.

Annual Assessment

New York’s home education regulation requires an annual assessment and provides two alternatives for that assessment. At any grade level, the parents can submit the results of a commercially published normreferenced achievement test. The tests which may be used are specified in the regulation, which also provides for other tests to be approved by the State Education Department upon request of the parents. The regulation provides for a variety of locations at which the test can be given and a variety of individuals to administer the test. If the parents and the superintendent agree, the parents can administer the test.

As an alternative annual assessment, the parents may submit a written narrative. This alternative may be used in grades one through three and in alternating school years in grades four through eight. Such a narrative is to be prepared by a person or peer review panel chosen by the parent with the consent of the superintendent, and that person or panel must interview the child and review a portfolio of his or her work. In many instances the parents prepare the written narrative. The home education regulation does not specify the content of the written narrative, other than to require the preparer to “certify either that the child has made adequate academic progress or that the child has failed to make adequate progress.” In years in which the written narrative may not be used, the parents must submit the results of a standardized achievement test until the student is no longer of compulsory school age.

Record of Attendance

Parents are required to maintain attendance records and to make them available to the district upon request.

Resources

Section 100.10 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education (8 NYCRR 100.10). http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/nonpub/part10010.htm

Typical Course of Study, World Book Educational Products, available from a World Book salesperson or from the World Book web site at http://www.worldbook.com/wc/browse?id=pa/tcs

How to Write a Low Cost / No Cost Curriculum for Your HomeSchool Child, Borg Hendrickson, Mountain Meadow Press, available from A11PIE Resources Catalog.

Write Your Own Curriculum: A Complete Guide to Planning, Organizing and Documenting

Homeschool Curriculums, Jenifer O’Leary (now out of print).

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