A few weeks ago, members told us of post-secondary admissions and alternative testing requirements that put additional burdens on homeschooled students.
NH home ed law and rules empower families to self-certify the completion of high school and does not require students to take a high school equivalency test or the GED.
GSHE believes it is important that NH higher-education institutions understand the graduation requirements of home educated students and not go beyond home ed law (RSA 193-A), rules (ED 315), or place additional admissions burdens on homeschooled applicants.
NHTI, Concord’s Community College
NHTI is a friendly community college to home-educated students and allows students under age 16 to participate in dual-enrollment programs with parental consent. So we were surprised to see their admissions page requires homeschooled students to supply “a letter from your local school district stating you have completed a home school program at the high school level” and “high school equivalency or other testing, if applicable.”
We reached out to NHTI’s admissions office to explain that NH homeschoolers self-certify the completion of high school and are not required to take the HiSet or GED for graduation. We promptly heard that their admissions page was updated a while ago and these requirements are an error that their webmaster will remove shortly.
Keene State College
Keene State College admissions office requires homeschooled applicants provide “documentation of completion of high school studies in the form of a final transcript, High School Equivalency Test (HSE), General Equivalency Diploma (GED) or certificate of completion from a local school district or state board of education. If your program does not provide a diploma, please call the KSC Admissions office.”
We called their office a couple weeks ago and followed up with an email, but have yet to hear from them. We explained that local district offices nor the state Board of Education has any responsibility or role in determining a homeschooled student’s graduation. Our next step will be to contact someone in the NH Department of Education’s Higher Education division to pursue it further.
NH High School Equivalency Testing Program (HiSET)
These issues led us to check into the HiSET, the NH High School Equivalency Testing Program. They require homeschooled students who are 16 or 17 to have a parent and a representative from their Participating Agency give permission.
We promptly heard back from the NH DOE’s Bureau of Adult Education and learned that the requirement is based on Ed 704.02 which was last updated in 2013 and references RSA 193:1, I(f)(2), NH's compulsory attendance statute. At the next Home Education Advisory Council (HEAC) meeting, GSHE will request these rules be revisited and revised at the next available opportunity.
In GSHE’s opinion, the HiSET rule is inconsistent with two NH DOE technical advisories, the home ed and youth employment statutes, and an overstep of the PA's authority and responsibility.
The rule, Ed 704.02, is specific to homeschoolers who are still of compulsory school age, not public or private school kids. (Link to Ed 700.)
(f) Home schooled students age 16 or 17 may register to take the high school equivalency test if a participating agent as defined in Ed 315.02 of the student’s home school program attests that the student has completed the home schooling program pursuant to RSA 193:1,I(f)(2), and that the student has passed the certified practice test and meets any additional qualifications for testing set by the test publisher.
This rule references part of the compulsory attendance law, RSA 193:1, I(f)(2).
A parent of any child at least 6 years of age and under 18 years of age shall cause such child to attend the public school to which the child is assigned in the child's resident district. Such child shall attend full time when such school is in session unless:
(f) The pupil has successfully completed all requirements for graduation and the school district is prepared to issue a diploma or the pupil has successfully achieved the equivalent of a high school diploma by either:(1) Obtaining a high school equivalency certificate; or(2) Documenting the completion of a home school program at the high school level by submitting a certificate or letter to the department of education
In home ed statute, RSA 193-A:11, public schools have no role in the students' academic determination.
193-A:11 Authority of School District Officials. – No superintendent, school board, school principal, or other school district official shall propose, adopt, or enforce any policy or procedure governing home educated pupils that is inconsistent with or more restrictive than the provisions of this chapter and any rules adopted pursuant to RSA 193-A:3.
Ed 315 specifically empowers families to self-certify graduation for homeschooled students, including those who are not yet 18 years old.
315.02 (a) “Certificate of completion” means a document signed by the parent of a home educated child certifying that the child has achieved the equivalent of a high school diploma by completing a home education program
Ed 315.16 Certificate of Completion. (a) Pursuant to RSA 193:1, I(f)(2), when the parent of a child under the age of 18 submits a document to the department certifying that the child has completed the home education program at the high school level the student shall be determined to have met the requirements for successful completion of a home education program
The NH DOE issued two technical advisories -- one in 2018 and another in 2020 -- to clarify the requirements of Participating Agencies regarding home education. Neither technical advisory gives PAs authority of a homeschooled student's learning program.
Further, a couple years ago, the youth employment law, RSA 276-A:5, was changed to have parents, not public-school officials, sign off on the required paperwork for teens because SAUs have no role in these children's education upon which to determine if employment would or would not be detrimental to their learning.
Certificates shall be issued by principals of schools or persons authorized by them, or by a parent or legal guardian, only after the determination of a satisfactory level of academic performance by the student. Responsibility for supervision and coordination with the department in matters pertaining to this chapter shall rest upon superintendents of schools when the certificate is issued by a principal, and shall rest with a parent or legal guardian when such parent or legal guardian authorizes the issuance of the certificate. If a student does not continue to meet a satisfactory level of academic performance after the issuance of the certificate, the principals of schools or persons authorized by them, or a parent or legal guardian, may revoke the certificate. In the event principals of schools or their designees revoke a certificate, notification of the revocation shall be made to the parent or legal guardian, the employer of the student, and the department of labor within 48 hours. In the event a parent or legal guardian revokes a certificate, notification of the revocation shall be made to the employer of the student and the department of labor within 48 hours. Upon receiving the notice of revocation, the department of labor shall investigate the compliance of the revocation within 90 days.
By Michelle Levell