This question was posted on a homeschool loop yesterday and I responded to the individual who inquired. I thought I would share a portion of that response on Gooseberry Lane:
You probably already understand that the current CT law (10-184) has two components: compulsory education and compulsory attendance. The former component has been around since the 1600's, the latter is more recent. Under the compulsory attendance portion of the law, public school is the default/assumed mode of instruction UNLESS one of two conditions is present:To this I add: …because the school district did not feel it was necessary. Just as it is voluntary for me to comply by filing a notice of intent, it is also voluntary for them to comply by holding a portfolio review.
- the child is a high school graduate OR
- the parent (or person in charge of the child) is able to show that the child is receiving equivalent instruction to what is taught in the public school
Please note that the statute says "able to show," not "required to show" equivalent instruction. Practically speaking, this means that the school authorities should not promulgate a regulation making it mandatory for homeschoolers to demonstrate equivalent instruction; however, it does mean that homeschoolers should be able to demonstrate equivalent instruction if asked.
It is my understanding that sometime in the early 1990's, the regulation of homeschoolers and/or the definition of equivalent instruction became an issue. I am not sure why, but it did. At that time, based on discussions between various state homeschool organizations, the state Department of Education, and HSLDA , "equivalent instruction" was agreed to be ASSUMED if a notice of intent was filed with the school district and the follow-on portfolio review was also performed. Because this procedure could not be a requirement, the entire NOI/portfolio review system was written as a guideline and the organizations involved in this agreement promised to encourage their members to comply with the suggested procedure. Any "refusal" by HSLDA to help homeschoolers who do not "comply" with the "suggested" procedure is, most likely, based on the fact that (as Christian attorneys) they gave their word to uphold that original agreement. Also, HSLDA does not necessarily believe that the filing of a notice of intent is setting a negative precedent or giving ground to the government. They do, however, encourage parents to be very careful about setting precedent in their portfolio reviews. Parents should take only one sample of work from each subject listed on the notice of intent. They should not try to show educational progress or try to "wow" the school with Creative Memories albums of fields trips and the like because that is not required or ASSUMED under the law. Engaging in such behavior at a portfolio review may indeed set a precedent that all homeschoolers should arrive with the same items for their end-of-year reviews.
NHELD differs with HSLDA in that the precedent concern is placed at the NOI level, not the portfolio review level. NHELD also believes that if the suggested procedure is voluntary, it is and should be just that --- voluntary. No one should even suggest that homeschoolers need to "comply" with it, nor should homeschoolers be denied specialized legal assistance based on the fact that they did not "comply" with a "suggested" procedure.
My personal position is this: as a Christian, I am supposed to give unto Caesar what is Caesar's. If I file a notice of intent, I am giving the authorities what is ASSUMED to be equivalent instruction under the law (because remember, I am supposed to be able to demonstrate equivalent instruction when asked and, remember, it is the agreement that was made). I am giving the school district a piece of paper; I am not giving them my child. I have intermittently filed notices of intent over the years and have NEVER had so much as a request from them for additional information. I have never even had a portfolio review.
It has also been my experience, after almost a dozen years of homeschooling, that parents who file a notice of intent have no problems with the school.