The Home School Court Report
Vol. XXII
No. 2
Cover
March/April
2006

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VIRGINIA

Breakthrough on PSAT and AP

Following a major effort by Home School Legal Defense Association, the Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers, Home Educators Association of Virginia, and local homeschool families, Virginia Beach is taking steps to open up Advanced Placement (AP) tests and the Preliminary SAT (PSAT) test to home-taught students.

Last fall, Virginia Beach public schools shut their doors to homeschool students who wanted to take the PSAT. The students were shocked, since the legislature had just passed a law requiring school boards to open these tests to homeschoolers. Families were left scrambling to find private schools that were willing and able to accommodate them.

Despite an immediate response from homeschoolers and the willingness of school officials to listen to their concerns, there was not enough time to correct the problem before the October PSAT. But this dialogue put in motion processes to end the unjust exclusion of homeschool students.

HSLDA recently received word that school system administrative personnel are working to establish times, dates, and locations for homeschool students to take the AP tests this spring and the PSAT next October.

Meanwhile, homeschoolers across Virginia are working to minimize the likelihood of another school system misinterpreting the law. In conjunction with the Home Educators Association of Virginia and the Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers, we have promoted state legislation to tighten the language of the law that relates to PSAT and AP test availability. As this article goes to press in March 2006, the legislation has passed both houses of the General Assembly, and we anticipate Governor Tim Kaine signing the bill within a few weeks.

AP and PSAT tests are important to homeschoolers. Many universities award up to three college credit hours to a matriculating student who scores a 3, 4, or 5 (depending on the university) on an AP test. Because the 32 AP tests are uniform nationwide, they provide credible additions to a homeschooler's high school transcript. Usually, students prepare by taking an AP course oriented toward the AP test, although this is not required. While PSAT scores are never sent to colleges, some colleges offer very generous scholarships to students who achieve the required score and are named National Merit Finalists (about the top 1.5%).

— by Scott A. Woodruff