** This webpage is provided for informational purposes. It is not legal advice. **

Compulsory Education Law

On July 1, 2017, Maryland’s updated compulsory school age law went into full effect. The law, which defines the ages when a child must attend school, officially raised the drop-out age to 18. The minimum age for starting school continues to be five.

Why This Matters for Homeschoolers

Maryland’s Education Article §7-301 requires all children between the age of 5 and 18 to attend public school. The law, however, offers a number of exemptions from compulsory public school attendance. Specifically, it says:

(A) This section does not apply to a child under the age of 18 years who:
       (3) is receiving regular, thorough instruction during the school year in the studies usually taught
             in the public schools to children of same age;
       (4) has completed an instruction program under paragraph (3) of this subsection;

Subsection (A)(3) of the compulsory school age law is what makes homeschooling – or attending private or religious school – legal in Maryland. As long as a parent or guardian ensures their child receives “regular, thorough instruction” between the ages of 5 and 18, they may choice other educational placements, other than public school.

Graduating Homeschool High School Before 18

A question remains with how Section (A)(4) applies to homeschoolers and early graduation. How does a family determine that their child has completed high school through their homeschool course of study – before the age of 18?

Maryland homeschoolers are not explicitly required to complete state graduation requirements. At the same time, Maryland has no explicit law or regulation identifying homeschool graduation requirements. Many homeschool parent will simply state that their homeschooler has “completed an instruction program” and is ready to graduate at an age younger than 18 – regardless of how many total credits the student may have.

For as compelling as it may be to graduate your homeschooler early, families are encouraged to think through the decision and consider what the homeschool graduate’s future plans may hold.

College-bound homeschoolers can look at college entrance requirements to determine if their high school homeschool “instruction program” matches up. If a 4-year college accepts a homeschooler as a full-time freshman before the age of 18, then it is safe to say they have also successfully graduated from homeschooling.

Military and technical training-bound homeschoolers will also want to look at program requirements for their future career choices. Be prepared to provide a portfolio and transcript to verify their homeschool diploma represents an equivalent course of study as a public school. Graduating early without completing 4-years of English or Algebra 1 may require a homeschool graduate to take the GED before they can pursue certain careers.

Last modified on September 13, 2019

Share This Page: