The West Virginia Senate approved a bill Monday that will reduce the number of times homeschool students must report assessments to their local school board. The bill passed out of the Senate Education Committee last week.
Currently, homeschool parents must provide academic assessments to their county school board at the end of grades 3, 5, 8 and 11. Senate Bill 541 would change that and require parents to submit their child’s academic assessment only once.
Homeschoolers would still be required to take assessments throughout their academic career, and parents must keep records of their child’s growth, but they wouldn’t have to share this information with their local school board if the first assessment was deemed adequate.
“What this bill does is essentially respect parents,” Senate Education Chair Sen. Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson, said. “Parents are the primary educators of their children, and parents’ involvement in education is the number one indicator of a child being successful in education, no matter whether they’re in public, private, or any other home education setting. This bill says that we trust and respect those parents.”
Rucker argues that statistically, homeschool students do well academically. Opponents to the bill however, say that some homeschoolers could fall behind if there isn’t more oversight by county school boards.
“What we’re doing here by passing this bill, we’re saying to parents, good and bad, ‘get through one assessment, send it to the county, you never have to have any more contact with your public school system,’” said Sen. Mike Romano, D-Harrison. “I understand freedom and freedom from regulation, but don’t we want to have in today’s day and age an opportunity to make sure that our kids are getting educated, and not find out when they’re 18 that they can’t read, write or do arithmetic?”
Senate Bill 541 passed 20-13 with some Republicans voting against it.
The bill now heads to the West Virginia House of Delegates for consideration.