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Media Contact

AHEM media contact is Sophia Sayigh, 781-641-0566 or info@ahem.info.

About AHEM

Advocates for Home Education in Massachusetts (AHEM) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, independent, grassroots, volunteer-run, educational organization that gathers and disseminates information about homeschooling in Massachusetts through education, advocacy, and events.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many homeschoolers are there?

In Massachusetts, local school officials keep track of how many homeschoolers are in their district. Athough the Massachusetts Department of Education tracks the number of students that transfer from public school to homeschool in a given year as part of their SIMS data collection system, there is no statewide accounting of homeschoolers, hence no official number of homeschoolers in the state.

The U. S. Department of Education estimates that 3% of school-aged children in the United States are homeschooled as of 2016,1 making it an important educational option for families. The homeschooling population is comprised of traditional and non-traditional families from various races, ethnicities, faiths, philosophies, and lifestyles.

Why do families choose to homeschool?

Homeschooling is being adopted by a broader range of families than ever before. Families choose to homeschool for many different reasons: because of concern about the environment of other schools, such as safety, drugs, or negative peer pressure(80%), a desire to provide moral instruction (67%), a dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools (61%), a desire to provide religious instruction (51%), a desire to provide a nontraditional approach to child’s education (39%), or for other reasons such as child has special needs (20%), a physical or mental health problem (14%), or family time, finances, travel, and distance (22%).2 Sometimes families homeschool one child and send another to school, or homeschool a child for a period of time, and then enroll or re-enroll him or her in school.

What is the law governing homeschooling in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts has no statute that specifically addresses homeschooling. Rather, homeschooling is governed by case law, in conjunction with applicable statutes. The most important case is Care and Protection of Charles & others, 399 Mass. 324 (1987). In this case, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts upheld the compulsory attendance statute, General Laws Chapter 76, Section 1. In its decision, the Court was aware of the need to balance two basic tenets — the constitutional right of the parents to homeschool and the state's interest in the education of its citizenry. The result was delegation of homeschooling oversight to local school districts.

The job of the local school district is to approve the homeschool plan, ensuring that it “equals in thoroughness and efficiency, and in the progress made therein, that in the public schools in the same town…” (G.L. c. 76, Sec. 1). Each city or town has discretion in determining how to conduct oversight. For example, some towns give the responsibility to school committees, while others have school principals provide oversight. Most commonly, the superintendent, or an assistant superintendent, oversees homeschooling in his or her district.

Click here for more on the history of homeschooling in Massachusetts.

Do homeschoolers have to take the MCAS?

No. Homeschoolers are not allowed to take the MCAS.

What about socialization?

Despite the name, homeschooling is not limited to cloistered study around the kitchen table. Homeschoolers make good use of the wealth of resources available in Massachusetts and beyond. As a group, homeschoolers are civic minded and many volunteer for community organizations, as well as becoming involved with sports leagues, arts groups, nature centers, and museums. Engagement with the world allows development of relationships with adults and peers, making it common for homeschoolers to have friends of various ages. Homeschool support groups offer opportunities to meet other children and enjoy group activities and classes.

What about college?

Homeschooled students are welcomed in many institutions of higher learning throughout the country, ranging from local community colleges to Ivy League universities. Colleges consider the ability, attitude, and life experiences of homeschoolers, as well as their community involvement. Homeschoolers applying to colleges submit home-brewed transcripts of high school work, along with the same standardized test scores (i.e. SATs and ACTs), essays, and recommendations as other students, if required by the college. Homeschoolers going on to college are prevalent enough that the FAFSA has included a circle for "homeschooled" as an option for high school completion status.

A sampling of Massachusetts colleges that have accepted Massachusetts homeschoolers:

Amherst College

Massachusetts College of Art and Design
Atlantic Union College Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Babson College Merrimack College
Bard College at Simon's Rock Mount Holyoke College
Bay Path College Northeastern University
Becker College Salem State University
Berklee College of Music Simmons College
Boston College Smith College
Boston University Springfield College
Brandeis University Tufts University
College of the Holy Cross University of Massachusetts Amherst
Eastern Nazarene College University of Massachusetts Lowell
Emerson College Wellesley College
Fitchburg State University Western New England College
Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering Westfield State University
Gordon College Wheaton College
Hampshire College Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Harvard University Worcester State University

1 McQuiggan, M. and Megra, M. (2017). Parent and Family Involvement in Education: Results from the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2016 (NCES 2017-102). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved November 9, 2017 from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2017102, p. 3.  
2 Ibid., p. 19.

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