Home Education in Florida:
Step 1. Letter of Intent
Send a Letter of Intent (aka Notice of Intent) to the local school district's Home Education Contact.
Keep a copy for your records!
The date the Letter of Intent is recorded by the district is your deadline for future evaluations.
Parents can send in a Letter of Intent and begin homeschooling the very same day.
Or send in the Letter of Intent up to 30 days before starting or up to 30 days after starting (though sending it in when starting will lessen issues with truancy investigations.)
Parents do not have to wait for confirmation by the district--though the district is required to confirm in writing as of Oct. 2020 per Florida Dept of Education policy.
The parent does not need permission to home educate. The district can only reject the Letter of Intent if the parent previously homeschooled within the past 180 days and did not send in proper documentation to end the homeschooling.
Once the Letter of Intent is submitted, you are legally home educating your child.
Welcome to homeschooling!
You can print out the attached Letter of Intent form, fill it out, and email a scan or clear photo o fit to the district's Home Education Contact.
Or feel free to type or write your own letter; it must include the child's full name and date of birth, address, a parent's name and signature (actual signature--not a typed name designated as a digital signature).
Step 2. Keep Records (Portfolio)
Florida laws require parents to keep a record of their child's learning. The records, called a portfolio, must include
*a Log of Educational Activities around the time of the learning, with
*titles of reading materials &
*samples of work
Florida law allows the parent to decide what these will look like, how they are organized, the level of detail kept, etc.
For examples of what these records might look like, go to our portfolio page.
Step 3. Turn in an Evaluation
Once a calendar year, turn in proof that the child is learning (i.e., making educational progress commensurate with ability).
We offer low stress portfolio-review evaluations.
The parent can choose from 5 options:
FIVE Evaluation Options
Must be set up in advance with the child's zoned public school. Most will want to be contacted by January. This testing is free of cost and done at the local zoned public school in public school classes with public school students according to the school's schedule. Results are submitted automatically, so there's no "do over" option if something goes wrong. A score above the 35th percentile is considered passing. This is the only option where the parent had no control over the evaluator nor whether the results are submitted.
Testing with a Psychologist
Testing may be done with a psychologist. This option can be expensive. The testing done is up to the psychologist--the law doesn't provide specifics. This method is usually used with children who are seeing a psychologist for other reasons--such as testing for giftedness or learning disabilities.
Nationally-normed Achievement Testing
Must be administered by a certified teacher--most districts understand this to mean a FL certified teacher. Such tests will compare your student's scores to those of other students across the country. The California Achievement Test, the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, or other such tests are often given in group settings by homeschool support groups (though this has not been as common during the pandemic) and typically cost $50-$120 a test. A score above the 35th percentile is considered passing.
Portfolio Review Evaluation
This is the type of evaluation we typically offer.
The portfolio review is NOT a test nor based on a single event; rather, it is based on the records of the child's work during the past year. This is a low-stress evaluation as the student is not required to perform for the portfolio review. The student must speak with the evaluator but this is a brief chat about the progress seen--making sure the student is aware of the learning that's been going on. This type of evaluation must be done by a Florida certified teacher with regular (i.e., professional-level) certification in some grade level between K and 12.
We have been doing such evaluations since 2003 for students, of all ages and ability levels, across Florida.
Anything else the parent and district agree on
Some parents have gotten their district to accept grade reports from FLVS or dual enrollment program under this option. Some districts have accepted testing that was not administered by a Florida certified teacher through this option. Feel free to suggest other options.
Evaluations are due each year by the anniversary of the Letter of Intent. Evaluations can be sent as much as six weeks early without issues.
Send the evaluation to the same district contact listed above for the Letter of Intent.
Written confirmation should be sent. If not received within 2 weeks, we recommend re-sending to the Home Education Contact and also to the Superintendent.
Step 4. Done homeschooling
When you finish homeschooling--whether because you put your child in a school, moved out of the state, or graduated your child from high school, you'll need to notify the district with a Letter of Termination and an evaluation (Send the evaluation and Letter of Termination together or within 30 days of each other).
Putting together a report card or transcript can be helpful. See the links below for more details.
is the most popular method of homeschooling
It is the only educational option
in which the parent
legally directs the child's education.
Florida is a very homeschooling-friendly state with laws that are mostly designed to allow parents to educate their children without interference from school district officials.
Some record-keeping and reporting is required; this is meant to confirm that children are being educated and are not truant, rather than to control how parents are educating their own.
Some examples of Florida laws and regulations include:
1. Parents are allowed to use any methods or materials to teach their homeschooled children. The state does not have a list of specific subjects that must be taught and gives parents much freedom as long as they keep records and the children are making educational progress commensurate with ability (i.e., learning).
2. Children who graduate high school as home education students are recognized, under Florida law, by Florida colleges as high school graduates if the parent signs an affidavit of completion.
3. Home education high school students are guaranteed the right to participate in public high school sports or other extra curricular activities, following the same eligibility requirements as public school students. (Students at lower grade levels *might* be able to--subject to district and school policies.)
4. Home education high school students can take college courses, free of cost, through the state's dual enrollment system (contingent on test scores). Many have graduated as homeschooled high school students with two-year college degrees.
Home Education FAQ
Can school districts add requirements for home education?
No, state law forbids districts from adding additional requirements UNLESS the student participates in a public school district program.
But school districts may vary in the additional options they approve for evaluations.
What does the law or district require for curriculum?
State law does not allow districts to set curriculum requirements for home education or private school students. The parent running a home education program may use any methods or materials appropriate for their child.
What are Florida's required subject areas?
Florida law requires sequentially progressive instruction (that lessons gradually grow more advanced) and educational progress commensurate with ability (learning). Home education students and private school students are not required to copy what Florida public schools are currently teaching. No required subjects are listed.
May homeschooled students participate in public school extracurricular activities?
State law's Craig Dickinson Act gives home education students the right to participate in high school (defined as grades 7-12 in law) activities.
How will my high school student get a diploma if homeschooled?
Parents running a home education program can issue a diploma. Homeschool parents can participate in FPEA.com's annual graduation ceremony in central Florida and get a diploma.
A signed Affidavit of Completion by a home education parent must be accepted by Florida state colleges as proof of high school graduation.
While some students do choose to take the GED to get a high school diploma, caution is urged for this route due to negative connotations for the GED.
Coupon code CT19 to join FPEA
Can my homeschooled child go to college?
Many homeschooled students graduate high school with college credits. Some even graduate with an AA degree (often at no charge). Colleges tend to look very favorably on homeschooled students and many receive scholarships including Florida's Bright Futures Scholarship. So, yes, homeschooled students can go to college.
How can I be sure I teach my child everything he should know?
Even the best schools and the best teachers don't teach everything. They all miss some things. But if you work on key skills (especially reading, writing, and math) and help your child learn how to learn, your child will be able to learn anything missed.
There are lots of organizations and materials available to help homeschooling parents teach their children--some are even available online for free. And there are lots of places, including this website, where parents can reach out for help and support.
What kinds of records must be kept?
Florida law requires home education parents to keep a portfolio (or collection of records) that include
a log of educational activities with titles of reading materials and samples of work and should be kept around the time of the learning.
These records must be kept, regardless of the evaluation method used or learning materials used.
Note that Florida law doesn't define "log of educational activities" or "titles of reading materials" because they leave it up to the parent to decide a reasonable set of records to keep. Attendance is not required for home education (but is if you use a private school instead).
Go to our portfolio page for more information and examples.
Where do we submit our curriculum or learning records?
Most likely, you simply keep the records. Florida law requires parents to keep records for two years--just in case an official has a reason to ask to see them. Then they have to ask in writing and give 15 days' notice. They cannot tell the parent the methods and materials to use, or otherwise evaluate the child, but they can check to see that the parent is keeping records as required by Florida law.
Where can I find the forms to use?
Ready to begin? Other notes:
For a child
A. Enrolled in a Florida school: You will need to officially withdraw the child. Get it in writing to avoid issues with truancy if the school does not remove the child from their rolls and counts the child absent. Emailing the school a copy of a signed letter of intent to home educate a child is one way to notify the school.
Consider beginning with a period of "deschooling" first (not quite the same as "unschooling") to get away from some of the negative attitudes the child may have associated with schools.
B. New to Florida: Start the registration process within 30 days of getting a home or job or otherwise establishing residency.
There is no need to register before moving to Florida--even if moving here mid-school year.
C. Starting school for the first time: The child needs to be registered in an official educational program this school year if the child will be six years old by Feb. 1st of this school year.
If a child has a birthday from Feb. 2nd-early August, the child will not need to be registered until the fall when the child is already six.
These requirements are not based on grade levels but on compulsory attendance ages in Florida law.
Families that start with a process of deschooling (getting away from the structures of school and attitudes schools teach), rather than trying to copy schools, tend to do better.
Deschooling (not the same as unschooling, though it might lead to unschooling in which the education is more child-led) is a temporary period in which the child and parent come to see how much can be learned without copying schools.
Parents can still keep records during the period of deschooling.
Feel free to use any materials or activities that help your child learn.
However, nothing in this section shall authorize the state or any school district to oversee or exercise control over the curricula or academic programs of private schools or home education programs."
Is the district's Letter of Intent form required?
No. Florida law prevents districts from adding additional requirements, including specific documentation. District forms are NOT recommended by us and most long-standing Florida homeschool organizations.
Why? District forms often ask for more information than parents are required to provide. Giving additional information can have negative consequences such as getting on district robo-call lists or concerns about changing curriculum or issues with district officials mistakenly believing they can add requirements to Florida law. District online forms often give no proof that they've been sent and some have had issues over the years with not being received.
Can I make my own Letter of Intent?
Yes. No specific form is required. The letter needs to include only: The child's full name and date of birth, your address (for mailing purposes), a parent's name and signature, and something about intending to home educate your child according to Florida law.
Or you can use our sample form if you prefer.
How should I sent the Letter of Intent or other official documents to the district?
Florida law does not specify a specific method, so you can choose any you like.
*Emailing this and all other official records is usually considered the best option as it is not only quick and not expensive, but also a copy of the sent email makes great legal proof.
*Taking documentation in person and getting a receipt is another option.
*Certified mail is NOT recommended as many districts have rejected certified mail receipts as proof of mailing anything other than an empty envelope when paperwork has been lost.
What should the portfolio look like?
Florida law specifies it must include a Log of Educational Activities with titles of reading materials and samples of work. The law doesn't define what these must contain but leaves that decision to parents. Keep them in any fashion that works for you. Records don't have to be daily, detailed, or fancy. Keep them as simply as you like. As long as they show that your child is being educated, you are on the right track. Examples of portfolios and more details can be found on our site.
When is the portfolio turned in to the district?
Most people never have to show their portfolio to the district. They are required to keep one for two years. The district could ask to see it--though they must do so in writing with at least 15 days' notice--but most (except Citrus County) will only do so if the child was previously being investigated for truancy or if someone else (such as in a custody battle) pushes them to.
The district can only check that the records include a Log of Educational Activities with titles of reading materials and samples of work. They cannot evaluate the child's learning as Florida law gives parents the choice of evaluation methods and, in most cases--state testing is an exception, the evaluator.
Can I change my evaluation deadline?
The evaluation is due once a calendar year.
The evaluation does not have to line up with your curriculum nor the public school's school year. The evaluation is not required to move your child to a higher level of curriculum. The evaluation is meant to verify that you are educating your child.
Some districts will allow a parent to do evaluations at the end of the typical school year--especially if choosing a testing option. But some will not. Unless you've verified with your district another option, evaluations are due no later than the anniversary of your letter of intent OR within 30 days of a Letter of Termination.
How many home education students are in Florida?
Official statistics on the number of home education students and families are published on Florida's Dept of Education's Office of Choice website. For the 2019-2020 school year, 75,347 home education families and 106,115 home education students are listed in Florida. (If the number of umbrella school students were included, the totals would be much higher.)
Where can I find Florida's home education laws listed?
(b) ...Parents have the option to comply with the school attendance laws by attendance of the student in a public school; a parochial, religious, or denominational school; a private school; a home education program; or a private tutoring program, in accordance with the provisions of s. 1003.01(13)."
The Trzasko Family
Cheryl & Mark Trzasko
(pronounced Trahs-koh) have always homeschooled their children; two graduated high school, as homeschoolers, with college credit.
Both Cheryl and Mark are long-time Florida certified teachers. Together, they are a team of experienced evaluators with a passion to help other homeschool families.