Homeschoolers Are Not Immune From Common Core

Some homeschoolers mistakenly think the problems associated with the Common Core State Standards are exclusive to the public school system. Sadly, it is very easy for homeschoolers to also be effected. There are four primary ways Common Core can impact home-educated students.

Many curricula providers are aligning their textbooks and educational resources to Common Core. Because public schools are the major purchasers, publishers are providing more materials for use with Common Core. They may or may not clearly indicate if a textbook is aligned to CC, so parents must be very careful if they wish to avoid those standards. There is a list of non-CC materials available at The Homeschool Resource Roadmap.

In the near future, the SAT and ACT exams will be aligned to Common Core. This means that any college-bound student will need to know the methodologies and approaches — not just academic knowledge — that are taught in Common Core. There is an alternative. More universities are going “test optional,” meaning applicants can opt to not take or submit SAT or ACT scores. In place of these tests, colleges usually require an additional essay or two. A list of test optional colleges is available through FairTest. Check with the universities directly to find out more about their admission policies and procedures.

Additionally, the massive student database (not just a Common Core issue because it originated with No Child Left Behind) is a threat to homeschoolers. If your child participates in the local school district for any reason — as your Participating Agency, for an extra curricular activity, participation in a single class, or to satisfy the year-end evaluation — they enter homeschoolers into the same huge database. Any one of these interactions with the local school district exposes homeschooled students to privacy risks. The US DOE mandates the collection of 400+ data points on every single student in the public school system. And, given the severe erosion of privacy protections in FERPA, even homeschool children’s private information can be accessed by third-party corporations without parental consent. I wrote an extensive article about student privacy risks and would recommend reading it for further information.

Finally, there is a growing effort to require homeschoolers to take the same assessments as those used in the public schools. Many legislators and bureaucrats believe that parents are accountable to the state to ensure children receive an adequate education. This is a genuine threat; we have seen legislative attempts to impose inequitable reporting and testing requirements on homeschoolers in New Hampshire over the years. Be wary of these efforts as they could trap homeschoolers into using a Common Core aligned curriculum and taking the same mandatory assessments. It has already been attempted in Tennessee. In 2013 there were two bills introduced in the NH House of Representatives, HB 321 and HB 322, that would have required public school students to take tests for advancement in fourth and eighth grades and high-school graduation. Fortunately we were able to kill these bills in committee. The NH Department of Education is switching from the NECAP tests to the Common Core aligned Smarter Balanced Assessments as of Spring 2015. They will be mandatory for all traditional and charter schools; it would not be a leap for them to be extended to homeschoolers, too.

It is very important to realize how these issues can impact all students and school choice options, not just those we are currently using for our children.