Home Instruction Frequently Asked Questions

 

  1. What are the most recent FAQ updates?

The following, also included in the Department’s November 3 guidance, are intended to answer some of the most recent frequently asked questions regarding home instruction.

Filing the Notice of Intent to Provide Home Instruction. While a parent may file a home instruction Notice for children age 4 and 5, they are not required to do so. Attendance is required by law from the 6th birthday to the 17th birthday. Additionally, a parent continuing home instruction for a student does not need to provide an assessment until the end of the school year (by September 1) in which the student turns 6 years old; the student may be repeatedly assigned a status of First Year student until that time. The Department does not provide packets, programs, advice or guidance regarding home instruction curriculum or grading. Parents are free to choose the program and curriculum that best fits their family’s needs, provided it meets the requirements indicated on the Notice. Students attending a private approved or equivalent instruction school, for whom the private school is responsible to report name and address to the resident public Superintendent, are not considered to be home instruction students and should not be entered into the home instruction portal as home instruction students. The paper form, with the most recent updates, will continue to be posted in the REQUIREMENTS AND FORMS section of https://www.maine.gov/doe/schools/schoolops/homeinstruction/requirements.

Assessments. Annually, toward the end of a school year (a school year for reporting purposes is always July 1 – June 30) an assessment must be administered and submitted by parents by September 1 of the same calendar year. If continuing home instruction, the assessment must be submitted together with the Notice of Intent to Provide Home Instruction, also due by September 1. An assessment is most commonly comprised of a teacher letter written by a Maine certified teacher that has administered a portfolio review for the parent, and reviews portfolio contents such as the attendance record, lesson plans and sample work, to ascertain whether adequate progress has been made by the student. Another common assessment method is to request that the student participate in SAU spring MEA testing, or for a parent to administer a standardized achievement test such as the California Achievement Test, the Stanford Achievement Test, or the Iowa Achievement Test, and submit a copy of the summary page results of that test instead. Parents can find out more about purchasing and administering such tests on the vendor websites.

For students in home instruction who are returning to public or private school in the subsequent school year, an assessment is also due. However, it will not be submitted via the portal or together with the Notice of Intent to Provide Home Instruction, which is designed for new or continuing home instruction students. In this case, the final assessment should be clearly marked “Returning to Public School in 2021” and submitted to the DOE. It may also be submitted via the Request to Update Home Instruction Record, linked from the Department’s home instruction webpage.

Home instruction vs. remote instruction: All parent-chosen virtual instruction in Maine that is not arranged/provided by the public SAU or the two Maine virtual charter schools is considered home instruction. Remote instruction that is arranged by the school or SAU is not considered to be Home Instruction. Online and remote learning coordinated or provided by the school is a public school program, and parents are not responsible for submitting an annual assessment or Home Instruction form. The Department has added the following language to the webpage in order to provide a distinction between home instruction and public remote or virtual instruction. SAUs may wish to adopt similar language on their home instruction webpages to provide more clarity to resident parents:

“The following information does not apply to families in remote or hybrid learning programs with their local schools during the COVID-19 emergency. Students in remote or hybrid learning programs should continue to participate in learning activities and ongoing communication with their local school.”

Parents who opt for home instruction may request re-enrollment for their children in the public school setting at any time. For the 2020-2021 school year, due to the extraordinary circumstances of COVID-19 and the challenges associated with enrollment transition planning during the pandemic, the remote instructional method of enrollment may be offered in cases where other instructional methods are not available because of space or resource issues. Placement of students who enroll after the start of the school year should be based on capacity and based on the same accessibility and timelines for those who opted for remote instruction.

Minimum Days of Instruction. The 175 day minimum instructional day requirement was suspended by the legislature in the last school year and this waiver continues, including for home instruction, until the executive order is lifted. However, please be aware that when the executive order is lifted, there may be further decisions regarding instructional days that may apply to home instruction. Also, demonstration of satisfactory academic progress (the assessment requirement) has not been waived and is still required to be submitted to superintendents by September 1st. 

Forms submitted through the portal: As of 2019-2020, the file of record for all home instruction information moved to the NEO Information system (the “portal”) which allowed “school officials of” the resident SAU and the Commissioner’s office shared access to the information. The superintendent must complete a NEO access form with the correct permissions in order to allow designee access to information about the resident SAU’s home instruction students in the portal. While a parent/guardian may opt to submit a paper Notice, those who submit a Notice through the portal (https://neo.maine.gov/DOE/NEO/Dashboard) are not required to additionally provide a paper copy. No paper form or other acknowledgement is necessary. The parent can print the form if they wish prior to submission, and the SAU may print it for the file if they wish, but a printout is not required. The portal information is never relayed or connected to the local public SAU student information system (SIS). An acknowledgment (without identifying information) is automatically sent to the parent/guardian if an email is provided. In addition, with regard to single submission, the Department has issued no “waiver” of the requirement to submit to the Department. Because the shared portal is the file of record for all submissions, parents who do not themselves submit online may submit paper forms to either SAU or DOE (preferable for 2020-2021), but it is not necessary to submit the form to both places.

  1. What is the exact web address for the Home Instruction Portal for parents who wish to submit the Notice of Intent to Provide Home Instruction online?

https://neo.maine.gov/DOE/NEO/Dashboard

  1. When should a parent or legal guardian submit a Notice of Intent to Provide Home Instruction?

A Notice of Intent must be filed annually by the parent or legal guardian. A school year starts July 1 and ends June 30. For parents in the first school year of home instruction, file the notice within 10 days of withdrawal from school. If you are starting a subsequent school year of home instruction, a Notice of Intent must be filed by September 1, together with the annual assessment.

  1. Must I use the Home Instruction Portal, or the official Maine DOE Notice of Intent to Provide Home Instruction form?

Using the Home Instruction Portal is not mandatory, and you may provide Notice in a different format, provided it contains all required information, listed here:

  • Applicable School Year

  • Parent/Guardian Full Name

  • Physical Address, City, Zip Code; and Mailing Address (if different)

  • Child’s Full Name

  • Child’s Date of Birth or Age Expressed in Years

  • Indicate First or Subsequent Year of Home Instruction

  • Date Starting Home Instruction (if First Year)

  • Assurance (if First Year): FIRST YEAR HOME INSTRUCTION PARENT ASSURANCE. The home instruction program will provide at least 175 days annually of instruction and will provide instruction in the following subject areas: 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. At one grade level from grade 7 to 12, the student will demonstrate proficiency in the use of computers. The home instruction program will include an annual assessment of the student's academic progress that includes at least one of the forms of assessment described in 20-A M.R.S. § 5001-A (3)(A)(4)(b).

  • Prior Year Assessment (if Subsequent Year)

  • Statement of Intent to Continue Providing Home Instruction (if Subsequent Year): SUBSEQUENT YEAR HOME INSTRUCTION PARENT STATEMENT.  I intend to continue providing home instruction and enclose the prior year annual assessment of the student's academic progress as outlined in 20-A M.R.S. 5001-A(3)(A)(4)(b).

  • Signature

  • Date of Signature

  • A valid email address if parent would like an acknowledgment

  1. How do I find my local school superintendent's address?

You will find an up-to-date list of addresses on our website.

  1. Do I need to file a Notice of Intent to Provide Home Instruction for my 5-year-old child?

According to Maine law, school attendance is compulsory from the 6th (sixth) birthday to the 17th birthday.

  1. Does the parent receive a letter or notice after the Notice of Intent to Provide Home Instruction has been received?

Yes, via email, provided the parent has supplied a valid email address.

  1. Do annual assessment results have to be submitted along with the Notice of Intent to Provide Home Instruction?

Yes. Only for subsequent year students, assessment results are due by September 1st, sent or submitted together with the Notice of Intent to Provide Home Instruction. These may be attached to the paper notice or uploaded to the Home Instruction Portal. Notices that are submitted without annual assessment results will be flagged for followup.

  1. Is the parent or legal guardian required to submit an annual assessment every year?

Yes, every year after the first year of home instruction. In the event that the student will not be participating in home instruction in the subsequent year, annual assessment results are still required. However, it would be helpful to include a note along with the assessment results stating that the student will no longer be participating in home instruction.

  1. If my child is enrolled in a distance learning program, do I need to file annual assessment results?

Yes. Unless the student is enrolled in one of Maine’s two virtual public charter schools – Maine Connections Academy or Maine Virtual Academy - a Notice of Intent to Provide Home Instruction with annual assessment results is required by September 1 if your child is enrolled in another distance learning program.

  1. What should a parent or legal guardian do in the event that the student ceases participating in home instruction during the school year?

If home instruction ceases and the child is still of compulsory school attendance age, parents must comply with attendance laws in some other way. As a courtesy, please notify the Superintendent.

  1. How many days and hours of instruction are required?

A total of at least 175 instructional days are required (waived during the COVID-19 state of emergency). There is no hourly requirement, per day or per year.

  1. If a parent or legal guardian begins home instruction during the school year, must they provide at least 175 instructional days?

The number of days that the student attended school prior to beginning home instruction can be deducted from the 175 instructional day requirement.

  1. How does a parent retrieve or edit their submitted home instruction forms?

A parent cannot retrieve or edit their home instruction information, except through request to the school administrative unit or Department of Education. Because of privacy, all requests must be made by the parent who submitted the Notice (or by the former student) and are subject to signed release and verification.

  1. Can a home instruction parent provide age, defined in years, instead of date of birth?

Yes.

  1. Can a home instruction parent provide a PO Box and not a physical address?

No, the physical address determines the school administrative unit of residence, so is required.

  1. Who gets notified when a parent submits home instruction information via the Home Instruction Portal?

Both the parent (if a valid email address is provided) and Superintendent receive acknowledgments. Maine DOE home instruction designees may access portal information.

  1. Is the Home Instruction Portal information relayed securely?

Yes.

  1. What happens if a required assessment that is submitted does not comply with one of the approved methods outlined in the statute?

The submission is noncompliant.

  1. Is there a fee to provide home instruction in Maine?

There is no fee charged. However, parents bear the responsibility for all costs.

  1. What instructional materials are provided to students participating in home instruction by the local school?

The local school may provide textbooks as long as extra copies are available. The local school is not required to provide additional instructional materials such as workbooks, lesson plans, computers, etc.

  1. Are home instruction students eligible to receive laptops through the Maine Learning Technology Initiative?

No, this program is not available to home instruction students.

  1. Can a parent or legal guardian file a Notice of Intent to Provide Home Instruction a student for one course?

No.

  1. What are the curriculum standards for each grade level?

Subjects must include English, language arts, math, science, social studies, physical education, health education, library skills, fine arts, Maine Studies (in at least one grade from 6 to 12), the student must demonstrate proficiency in the use of computers (at one grade level from 7 to 12). There are no specific curriculum standards for Maine home instruction.

  1. Will the state of Maine issue a diploma or certificate of completion when a parent feels that their student has completed their studies?

No. Since there are no standards of achievement for home instruction in Maine, the state does not issue grades, credits, diplomas, transcripts, letters of course completion or letters of grade level promotion. Parents are advised to contact post secondary institutions, the military recruiter or potential employer to inquire about what will be required for acceptance, admission and employment.

  1. When should the parent or the school administrative unit contact the Department?

Please contact the DOE when a verification or change in home instruction status is needed or when an error is found that needs to be corrected. The school administrative unit’s student information system is not connected to and does not communicate to or retrieve information from the home instruction portal.

  1. How many children are participating in home instruction in Maine?

The following statistics pertain to students who are registered with their local superintendent of schools and the state for home instruction:

  • 2004-2005= 4,094

  • 2005-2006= 4,721

  • 2006-2007= 4,571

  • 2007-2008= 4,897

  • 2008-2009= 4,998

  • 2009-2010= 4,927

  • 2010-2011= 5,099

  • 2011-2012= 4,730

  • 2012-2013= 4,995

  • 2013-2014= 5,025

  • 2014-2015= 5,561

  • 2015-2016= 5,441

  • 2016-2017= 5,467

  • 2017-2018= 5,749

  • 2018-2019= 6,124

  • 2019-2020= 6,770 (as of 6/30/2020)