Georgia requires a nationally norm-referenced test for homeschool participants but not for the state’s publicly schooled students. Some states with testing requirements offer their homeschool families a free state test, but in Georgia’s case, the state test does not meet the minimum test requirement in place for homeschool participation.

History

Georgia, located in the southern United States, legalized homeschooling in 1984. The number of homeschooled students has steadily increased over the past 20 years.

Regulation

Georgia parents who choose to educate their children, ages 6-16, at home must file a declaration of intent form that includes student names, ages, and addresses. Further, it appears that some annual information is required. Daily attendance forms are no longer required, but the school year should include 180 days and a certain number of daily hours. Similarly, Georgia has instructional requirements. For example, instruction must include math, English language arts, science, social studies, and reading (O.C.G.A. § 20-2-690). However, the state does not endorse or require a particular curriculum.

There are minimum educator requirements, and parents in Georgia may also hire a tutor for their child’s home instruction. Instruction providers must have a high school diploma or the equivalent.

Homeschool students must take a “nationally standardized test,” in certain years, beginning in third grade. Public school students take the state test, the Georgia Milestones, which is not a nationally standardized test and therefore does not meet the homeschool requirement. It is, however, what all public school students are assessed with each year in the state. Nevertheless, homeschool parents must adhere to the higher standard, contact testing providers, or work with a local homeschool association for assistance in procuring and administering the required test.

Generally, Georgia nonpublic students do not have access to the offerings at their local public schools. This means that they cannot take courses, play sports, or participate in clubs or other educational activities. There are a couple of exceptions. Homeschooled students in grades 6-12 may be able to access extracurricular offerings under some circumstances, such as part-time public school enrollment. Funding is available for students who meet specific requirements. See the Dexter Mosely Act for more details. Further, high school students can access dual enrollment courses for free, with some requirements. Students with special needs qualify for the same services as students in private schools (O.C.G.A.§20-2-690; O.C.G.A. §20-2-159).

State Data

In 2001, Georgia reported nearly 32,000 homeschooled students. Growing steadily, by 2019, Georgia had 74,000 registered homeschooled students. At the height of the pandemic, there were over 80,000 homeschooled students in Georgia. Data are missing from 2011 to 2014.

A bar chart showing homeschool rates in Georgia from 1999 to 2023, with rates slightly increasing from 1999 to 2009, missing data for years 2010 and 2011, dropping considerably in 2012, increasing drastically in 2013, and continuing to increase from 2014 to 2023.

Compared to the U.S. Census estimates of 7.1% of families in the early spring of 2020 and 16.0% by the following fall, these estimates are reasonable given the actual participation information in the chart. In the 2022 and 2023 school years, U.S. Census estimates indicate that 4.7% of all K-12 students, on average, were homeschooled in the state.

Georgia is one of a few states that provides participation information by subgroups upon request. Currently, those data include a breakout of participation by district.

Download Homeschool Hub State Data

Cross-Sector Comparison

During the 2019-20 academic year, nearly 4% of Georgia’s K-12 students were homeschooled. Almost twice as many students attended private schools, at 7%. In contrast, the percentage of Georgia students attending charter schools was slightly less than homeschool participation, at only 3%. In 2021-22, 4.6% of Georgia’s K-12 students were homeschooled. Almost twice as many students attended private schools, at 7.7%. In contrast, the percentage of Georgia students attending charter schools was slightly less than homeschool participation, at only 3.5%.

A pie chart showing home, charter, private, and traditional public school percentages in Georgia in 2021-22

School Choice Context

In addition to homeschooling, parents in Georgia have various educational choices available. These options include traditional public schools with inter- and intra-district options, vouchers, and tax credit scholarships, charter schools, magnet schools, and virtual learning programs. There do not appear to be any funding options for traditional homeschool families. It is unclear if students in microschools, homeschool co-ops, or hybrid homeschools might qualify for the average $4,000 annual “scholarship.”

Commentary

Georgia does not publicly report the collected homeschool participation data, but will provide data upon request, including disaggregated data by district. To improve transparency, Georgia should consider publicly reporting the data collected, including the disaggregated information on student participation by age/grade.

Further, access for all students to the state’s educational opportunities could improve by permitting all nonpublic students to participate in public school offerings, such as art classes, sports, and other courses. Many states across the country allow nonpublic students to participate in classes and extracurricular activities. A student’s age and funding should not pose barriers to participation.

Finally, holding homeschooled students to a higher standard on test requirements should be addressed. Currently, homeschoolers must take a nationally norm-referenced test, which means that the scores are compared to other students in the country. Georgia’s state test is not nationally normed, which could mean it only compares student scores within the state.

Last updated December 2023.