March 17, 2003
Tennessee Department of Education Memo Confusing Homeschoolers

You may have received a memorandum dated February 19, 2003, from Fretta M. Bunch of the Tennessee Department of Education advising you that certain end-of-course tests are required for homeschool 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 mathematics (including Algebra I or Math Tech II), science (including Biology I or Biology Tech), language arts (including English II), Math Foundations II, and English I if they are enrolled in these courses.

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

On April 6, 1996, HSLDA 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 go to http://www.hslda.org/hs/state/TN/200203131.asp . We are prepared to defend our members in court should this become necessary.

Homeschool 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. Homeschool 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 homeschool students as part of any state testing.