March 13, 2002
Department of Education Memo Confusing Home Schoolers

Dear Tennessee Members and Friends:

You may have received a memorandum dated February 26, 2002, from Fretta M. Bunch of the Tennessee Department of Education advising you that certain end-of-course tests are required for home school students. Specifically, Dr. Bunch's memorandum states that students in grade nine who are not associated with a church-related school and students in grades nine through twelve who are associated with a church-related school must take tests in the areas of Algebra I, Biology I, and Math Foundations II if they are enrolled in these courses.

It is our opinion based upon the language of the home school statute, the legislative history, and constitutional considerations that home school students do not have to take the end-of-course tests described in Dr. Bunch's memorandum.

On April 6, 1996, I sent a letter to an attorney at the Tennessee Department of Education, explaining the reasons for our opinion when this issue was first raised six years ago. To view this letter click here. We are prepared to defend our members in court should this become necessary.

Home school students not associated with a church-related school must take the same standardized tests required of public school students in grades five, seven, and nine. The state intends to administer the TCAP test to students in grades five and seven. We believe these tests are required for students not associated with a church-related school.

Dr. Bunch's memorandum also speaks of testing by church-related schools. Home school students associated with a church-related school are only required to be tested by the school if it administers tests to its regular day students. Church-related schools do not have to test home school students as part of any state testing.

Should you be contacted further about taking the end-of-course tests and wish to discuss this further with us, please do not hesitate to contact my legal assistant, Jonathan Bechtle, or me.

Very truly yours,

Dewitt T. Black, III

 Other Resources

Dewitt Black's Letter to the State Department of Education