On July 1, 2011, homeschooling law in Tennessee changed, making homeschooling much easier for Tennesseans. Legislation passed the TN House and Senate and the Governor signed the SB1468 / HB1631 into law.
In Tennessee law, homeschooling is defined as “parent(s) or guardian(s) teaching their children.”
The State of Tennessee maintains a compulsory attendance law, requiring a child to be enrolled in school between the ages of 7 and 16. As long as that law exists, dealing with state officials will be part of any educational alternative, whether public, private, or church related. That law can be satisfied either by enrolling with your local school system as a homeschooler or the family can enroll with a church related school. These church related schools are often referred to as "umbrella schools."
About ninety-five percent of homeschoolers in Tennessee sign up with a church related school that offers an umbrella program. Why? The number of services available to families and their students makes them so popular. These services might include a range of curriculum options, scheduling, testing, assistance, graduation participation, plus all sorts of coordinated activities including arts and sports.
Some of these umbrella schools offer statewide and worldwide enrollment. Some only allow enrollment for members of their church. Some require testing while others offer testing when parents are ready. Some mandate the use of a certain curriculum, while others simply request that you report what curriculum is used. Should you choose to make use of an umbrella school, you have the opportunity to choose one best suited to your family.
The remaining five percent of homeschoolers use the alternative of signing up with their local school system. Enrolling is free and generally simple, with usually a one page attendance form. Services, on the other hand, are limited. Testing is required for certain grades, with penalties attached to low performance.
An additional item to note would be the numerous co-ops and tutorials in our region. While these are extremely beneficial to homeschooling families, they do not satisfy the state requirement that your child be registered with either their local school system or an umbrella school. Co-ops and tutorials are not umbrella schools.
For detailed information on the Tennessee Home Education Law click here.