Homeschool Laws in Tennessee: A Parent’s Guide

Whether you are new to homeschooling or have been at it for many years, knowing the homeschool laws in Tennessee is one of the most important parts of your journey.

Knowing the laws not only ensures that you remain compliant with the state, but it also helps you to exercise your freedom to the fullest. Compared to many other states, Tennesseans are fortunate to have a wealth of flexibility when it comes to planning and executing their homeschool year.

If you are just starting out, the legal aspects of homeschooling may seem overwhelming. Thankfully throughout your homeschooling journey, your zoned school district or umbrella/online school (see below) will help you stay in compliance with state laws.

If you want additional legal protection, you can also join HSLDA, a membership organization that defends the constitutional rights of homeschoolers nationwide.

Homeschool Laws in Tennessee

The information presented here should not be taken as legal advice. I am not a lawyer or a state employee. The information provided is based on my knowledge as a TN homeschool parent and is for informational purposes only.

Universal Homeschool Laws in Tennesse

The requirements below apply to all homeschoolers, no matter which schooling option (see below) you choose.

Attendance – For homeschool students, attendance is compulsatory from the age of 6 through the age of 17, with very few exceptions. Homeschool students must attend school 180 days a year, for at least 4 hours a day.

Vaccination – The state of TN requires homeschoolers to provide a vaccination record (or exemption) for each student.

All educating parents/guardians must have a valid high school diploma or GED.

What Homeschooling Options Are Allowed in TN?

Tennessee allows for 3 different types of at-home schooling.

  • Independent Homeschooling
  • Chruch Related Umbrella Schools
  • Online Schools (private schools, or public school at home)

Each type has its advantages and disadvantages, which I will discuss in detail below.

As you read through each option, it is important to keep in mind that each family and student is unique and will have unique homeschooling needs.

What works for another family may not work for you. You have no one to impress with your choices and should choose the option that best meets your family’s current needs. If your needs change, you can always pick a different option the following year.

Independent Homeschooling at a Glance

Registration – Each family must submit a Tennessee notice of intent to homeschool form.

Record keeping and testing requirements are mandated by the state.

  1. Attendance records must be submitted to the zoned school district at the end of each school year.
  2. Each student must take a standardized test in grades 5, 7, and 9.
    • Testing will be provided free-of-charge through the zoned school district, though you may choose an alternate assessment with prior approval.
    • The state reserves the right to bring students with low test scores back under the umbrella of the public school system.

Curricula – No specific curricula are required, though you must meet specific subject and credit requirements.

Pacing – You are free to choose the start date and end date for your school year and schedule your classes as you wish.

Graduation – Students will NOT receive a high school diploma

Sports and extracurricular activities – When space is available, students may be eligible to participate in sports or extracurricular activities at their zoned public school. Participation is subject to the approval of the school principal and is not guaranteed.

TN Homeschool Laws

Church Related Umbrella Schools At a Glance

Cost: There will be a per student registration fee that is usually under $100. Parents will also be fully responsible for the cost of curricula and supplies.

  • If you are homeschooling more than one student, you may receive a multi-student discount on the registration fees.

Enrollment – If the umbrella school doesn’t do it for you, you must submit proof of umbrella school enrollment to your children’s zoned school district annually.

  • Depending on the umbrella school, it may or may not require a statement of faith prior to enrollment.

Record keeping and testing requirements are determined by each individual umbrella school.

  1. Parents are responsible for determining grades and submitting them to the umbrella school.
  2. You will most likely have to submit a list of the curricula you are planning to use.
  3. You will submit attendance records directly to the umbrella school.
  4. In many cases, you will not be required to participate in any standardized testing.

Curricula – Though some mandate a specific set of curricula, most umbrella schools allow you to choose your own.

Pacing – Most umbrella schools allow you to choose the start date and end date for your school year and schedule your classes as you wish.

Graduation – Depending on the umbrella school, your graduating student may receive a diploma.

Sports and extracurricular activities – If you are using a local umbrella school, students may be eligible to participate in sports and/or extracurricular activities through the school.

When space is available, students may be eligible to participate in sports or extracurricular activities at their zoned public school. Participation is subject to the approval of the school principal and is not guaranteed.

Accredited Online Private School at a Glance

Cost – Private online schools typically cost $1,000 or more per student each year.

Enrollment – If the private school doesn’t do it for you, you must submit proof of private school enrollment to your children’s zoned school district annually.

Record keeping and testing requirements are determined by each individual school.

  1. Most private online schools do require annual standardized testing, but not all.
  2. Work will either be done online or submitted virtually. In most cases, it will be graded by your student’s virtual teacher.

Curricula – You will be required to use the online school’s selected curriculum with little to no room for negotiation.

Pacing – You will be required to adhere to the online private school’s guidelines regarding start dates, end dates, and class schedule with little to no room for negotiation.

Sports and Extracurricular Activities – Students may be eligible to participate in sports and/or extracurricular activities through their zoned public school, with prior principal approval. Participation is not guaranteed.

Online Public School at Home

Registration – Most people go through an online public school like K12 or Tennessee Connections Academy, but some local schools offer district-run programs, where you register directly through your zoned school district.

  • In either case, the state will formally classify your children as full-time public school students, NOT as homeschoolers.

Curricula – All your curricula will be provided at no cost, but you will be required to use the curricula chosen by the online school with little to no room for negotiation.

  • You will still be expected to buy basic supplies like pencils, pens, paper, art supplies, etc.

Pacing – You will be required to adhere to the public school’s guidelines regarding start dates, end dates, and class schedule with little to no room for negotiation.

Record keeping and testing requirements Your children will be expected to follow their zoned school district’s regular standardized testing schedule.

Attendance – Depending on the program you choose, your children may be required to attend in-person classes a certain number of days per week.

Sports and Extracurricular Activities – Students may be eligible to participate in sports and/or extracurricular activities through their zoned public school, with prior principal approval. Participation is not guaranteed.

Where to Get Additional Help

For more detailed information regarding homeschool law, or to ask specific questions, you can contact your zoned school district. You can also contact the state directly at this email address Home.School@tn.gov.

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