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The South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship program has been “off limits” to homeschoolers since the Board of Regents adopted a restrictive set of regulations shortly after the original legislation was enacted.
But the governor’s signature in March on the scholarship equity bill, HB 1160, at last gives South Dakota homeschool families reason for hope. South Dakota Christian Home Educators was instrumental in obtaining passage of the bill, which takes effect in 2013.
The bill opens the door for homeschool families by eliminating the requirement that a high school student take specific courses and earn a specific grade point average. On the other hand, the legislation requires a higher and more specific ACT or SAT score.
A public school student can satisfy the requirement with an ACT score of 24 or an SAT score of 1090 (verbal-mathematics). A homeschooler, however, must earn an ACT score of 28 combined with the following sub test scores: English, 18; reading, 21; math, 22; and science, 24. On the SAT, alternatively, a homeschooler must earn a score of 1250, with “markers in reading, writing, mathematics and science” high enough to show that remediation is not necessary. Since the SAT does not contain a science section, the requirement that a student earn an SAT score that shows they do not need remediation in science is, shall we say, perplexing.
Perhaps a future legislature will wake up and realize that demanding scores far higher for homeschoolers tends to defeat the purpose of the scholarship program and is simply unjustified. Perhaps they will reduce the scores required for homeschool students to a more reasonable level, and at the same time correct the problem of demanding a science score from a test that does not measure science knowledge or aptitude.
Shortly after signing HB 1160, Governor Michael Rounds issued a statement of support for homeschoolers: “I’m pleased that homeschoolers will now have access to the Opportunity Scholarships.”