How to Legally Home Educate in the State of Maine
There are TWO options to home educate in the state of Maine. The essentials of each option are listed below. Following with be a more in depth discussion about what that means for you, the home educating family. We have created basic forms for your use and links are provided.
The Nuts & Bolts of the Process
Compulsory age of attendance for either option is the same – 7th birthday to 17th birthday. This means you do not need to notify the state prior to your child’s 7th birthday or after your child turns 17.
Option One (aka “Letter of Intent”)
- A Letter of Intent must be submitted to both the Superintendent of Schools for the district you reside in as well as the homeschooling coordinator for the State of Maine. This must be done the first year you homeschool. This letter should be submitted prior to September 1st or within 10 days of your child’s seventh birthday.
- A Subsequent Letter of Intent is then submitted for each year thereafter. Again, it is submitted to both the Superintendent’s Office as well as the State. A copy of your assessment of choice must also be included. This information must also be submitted by the September 1st deadline.
- 175 days of instruction must be completed between September 1st and August 31st of each year.
- The following subjects must be taught: English and language arts, math, science, social studies, physical education, health education, library skills, fine arts and, in at least one grade from grade 6 to 12, Maine studies. Lastly, computer proficiency must also be shown at some point between grades 7 to 12.
- An annual assessment must be done. Choices include a portfolio review completed by a Maine certified teacher or a standardized test.
Letter Of Intent – to be used only the first year you homeschool
Subsequent Letter Of Intent – to be used for every year thereafter
Please note: If you have more than one child, you may list them all on the same form. You only need to submit separate forms if you are already homeschooling a child and have a new one entering your homeschool. Then an initial letter would need to be sent for the new addition.
Where to send your letters to the State:
Pamela Ford-Taylor, School Enrollment Consultant
Maine Department of Education
23 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0023
Click HERE for the link to easily find contact information for your Superintendent.
Be sure to keep copies of all you send. It’s highly recommended that, if you mail them, you do so by “return receipt requested” as you will not receive confirmation back from the state.
The legal statutes for homeschooling in Maine are set out in the Maine State Statutes as an “equivalent instruction alternative.” You can read the statues HERE.
Option Two (aka “recognized for attendance purposes private school” or RAPPS)
- You can form your own private school with at least one other family who is not related to you. All instruction is still done at home by the parents. This Option can also apply to real “brick & mortar” type schools.
- No Letters of Intent (of any kind) is ever filed with either the state or the local school department. The Chief Administrator of the RAPPS would send letters annually by October 1st or withing 10 days of the school starting to both the state and each local school departments for every child enrolled. You do not all need to reside in the same school district.
- 175 days or 875 hours of instruction is required
- Subjects to be taught (at some point – not necessarily every year to every student) include: English (reading, writing, spelling, grammar), math, science, American history, Maine history and geography, government (including the rights, privilege, and responsibility of citizenship), health and fine arts.
- No annual assessment is required by state guidelines. Each RAPPS, however, can set their own rules regarding assessments.
Click here –> Equivalent Instruction Guidelines – to read the guidelines as set forth by the Maine Department of Education.
Frequently Asked Questions
My child will be turning seven in January. Should I just send in my Letter of Intent in September? We strongly encourage you to make yourself a note and wait to send in your letter until your child is actually seven. There has been a push just recently to lower the compulsory age to six as well as raise it to 18. We do not want to set a precedent that would give fuel to this occurring.
What constitutes a “day” of home education? A day is not defined. Do not get hung up on so much book work being done in order to count your day. Count your field trips. Be open-minded to all the learning opportunities your child comes in to contact with in just their daily living.
What exactly is a portfolio review? A portfolio review is simply a sampling of all the work your child has accomplished over the course of the year. It should showcase your child’s progress. Typically a 3-ring binder is used and samples of your child’s work is taken from the beginning of the year, middle of the year, and end of the year (or once a quarter) to show that they have made progress in that particular subject. Placing the samples into a 3-ring binder by subject helps to keep it organized and allows your reviewer an easy way of seeing progress made. Additionally, a field trip log, a log of all books read (by the child or to the child), and a log of days in attendance are also helpful. Photos can also help to enhance it – photos of field trips, large projects, service projects, etc.
Who can review my portfolio? Any Maine certified teacher, no matter what level/subject they are certified for, may do so. A word of caution…be sure the teacher doing your review is homeschooling friendly. In the past we have heard horror stories about reviews done. The only thing a teacher should be looking at is that your child has made progress. They should not be comparing them to the local public school, their own classroom, or even the child next door. Has this particular child made progress or not? That’s it. We can certainly help you find a teacher to help you do your review if you chose this method of assessment.
I am a Maine certified teacher but am now homeschooling my own child. Can I review their portfolio? In a word, yes. Some do and some don’t. It’s completely up to you, but it is perfectly legal for you to do so.
What type of standardized test can I use? There are a number of tests out there, but the most common ones used are the California Achievement Test (CAT) and the IOWA Basic. The CAT test can be purchased through Christian Liberty. They offer it either as a paper test or online for the same price of $25 per student. Seton Testing Services also offers the CAT for $25 but only in a paper version. Anyone can administer this test, including a parent.
The IOWA Basic is another standardized test many families use. You do need someone with a B.A. or B.S. to administer the test, however. You can purchase the test booklets through Seton Testing Services. The cost depends on grade but ranges from $39-$29.
I pulled my child from public school mid-year. How do notify the state that we are homeschooling? Do I still need to do 175 days of instruction at home? You have 10 days to send in your Letter of Intent. As a courtesy, also notify the school, if you haven’t already done so, that you will be homeschooling your child. A simply letter or phone call is sufficient as well as just a copy of your Letter of Intent.
Figure out how many days of instruction your child had while in public school and begin from that number. For instance, if your child was in public school for 75 days, you would then need to do 100 days of instruction at home.
My child will be in seventh grade (or higher) at home. Can we participate in the laptop/iPad program offered to public school students? No. That is not an option for homeschooling families at this time.
I have a sports loving child. Can they still play sports for the public school while being homeschooled? Yes. Through the Homeschool Access Law, as long as a student meets all the requirements that their public school counterpart must, they can participate. You can read the law HERE.
Is my child allowed to attend some classes at the public school if they are homeschooled? Yes. The same law that allows them to participate in sports at the public school level, also allows them to participate in some classes as well. HERE is a link to that law.
My child is enrolled in a RAPPS (Option 2), are they allowed to access the public school for classes or sports? Yes and no. They may access it for co-curricular activities such as sports. However, they may not access the public school for academics unless they file a Letter of Intent. HSLDA just recently wrote an article about this. You can read it HERE.