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Pennsylvania

September 24, 2008

Evaluator Qualifications Misunderstood

Home School Legal Defense Association has encountered at least two school districts in Pennsylvania with a misunderstanding of the qualifications for evaluators of home education programs. School officials at Gettysburg Area School District and Carbondale School District were insisting that the certified teacher serving as an evaluator be certified at the elementary level in order to evaluate students at the elementary level and certified at the secondary level in order to evaluate students at the secondary level.

Subsection (e) of Section 13-1327.1 of Pennsylvania Statues Annotated, the home education statute, states that the annual evaluation of a student’s educational progress must be determined by “a licensed clinical or school psychologist or a teacher certified by the Commonwealth or by a nonpublic school teacher or administrator.” A teacher or administrator must have at least two years of experience at the level being evaluated. A nonpublic school teacher or administrator must have had this experience within the last 10 years. This subsection goes on to state that, “The certified teacher shall have experience at the elementary level to evaluate elementary students or at the secondary level to evaluate secondary students.” Thus, while it is clear that a certified teacher must have experience at the level being evaluated, there is no requirement that the teacher be certified by the Commonwealth at that level. For example, a teacher certified at the elementary level may nevertheless evaluate a student at the secondary level if the teacher has the required two years of experience at the secondary level.

HSLDA Senior Counsel Dewitt Black was able to clear up this misunderstanding by providing the school districts with the statutory information.