For the Media
AHEM media contact is Sophia Sayigh, 781-641-0566 or email@example.com.
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.
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 2012,1 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.
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 (91%), a desire to provide moral instruction (77%), a dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools (74%), a desire to provide religious instruction (64%), a desire to provide a nontraditional approach to child’s education (44%), or for other reasons such as child has special needs (17%), a physical or mental health problem (15%), or family time, finances, travel, and distance (37%).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.
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.
No. Homeschoolers are not allowed to take the MCAS.
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.
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:
|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|
Noel, A., Stark, P., and Redford, J. (2013). Parent and Family Involvement in Education, From the National
Household Education Surveys Program of 2012 (NCES 2013-028), National Center for Education Statistics,
Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC. Retrieved September 8, 2013
from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch, p. 3.
2 Ibid., p. 18.
- Noel, A., Stark, P., and Redford, J. (2016). Parent and Family Involvement in Education, From the National
Household Education Surveys Program of 2012 (NCES 2013-028.REV2), National Center for Education Statistics,
Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.