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Maryland regulations explain the process for how homeschoolers can attend public school, if they no longer want to homeschool. Specifically, COMAR 13A.10.01.04 states:
Upon application of a child for admission to a public school from a home instruction program, the local superintendent shall determine by an evaluation the placement of the child and any credits to be awarded toward high school graduation. The evaluation may include administration of standardized tests and examinations and interviews with the child.
Let's break down the legalese into practical terms of what you can expect.
- "Upon application"
As a resident of your local county or Baltimore City, your child is entitled to a free public education at his or her locally zoned school. In order to be enrolled, you must provide documentation that you actually live in the zoned area and that the child you are enrolling is under your legal custody. Contact your local school to find out what specific documents you must bring to prove residency and custody. If you are interested in having your child attend a magnet school program in your county, applications for those spots are generally due in November of the previous academic year that you want your child to attend. Homeschoolers can apply to magnet schools.
- "the local superintendent"
Maryland has 24 school boards - one in each county and one in Baltimore City. Each school board is led by a superintendent who oversees countless offices that work together to run the local public school agency. Each school, however, is run by the school's principal. It is the principal, who acts on behalf of the superintendent, who has the ultimate decision making power regarding placements of new students.
- "The evaluation may include"
The word may is extremely important here. No single process exists for evaluating a newly enrolled student to determine placement. Some homeschoolers who have used the Calvert curriculum with the teacher oversight service report an easy transition in placing their child into public school. At the same time, some unschoolers who decided to go to public school successfully negotiated a grade skip, upon offering a portfolio of work samples. The bottom line: The more comprehensive documentation you can provide the public school, the less intrusive their evaluation of your child will be.
- "administration of standardized tests and examinations and interviews with the child"
Some evaluation options that the school may use include:
- Reviewing homeschool work samples one-on-one with your child
- Working through sample problems with a teacher
- Interview with the guidance counselor, department head, or district-wide content area expert
- End-of-year content area tests, such as Algebra 1
- Individually administered achievement and/or ability tests
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