Louisiana is one of only a dozen states that does not offer homeschool families access to public school courses, sports, or extracurriculars.

History

Located in the southern United States, Louisiana legalized homeschooling in 1984, however, home study” began much earlier. Homeschooling is referred to as “home study” in Louisiana.

Regulation

Louisiana parents who homeschool their children ages 7 to 18 must apply to the Louisiana Department of Education for approval. Once approved, parents must submit an application annually for renewal for each child. There is no specific educational background requirement for parents, and Louisiana, unlike some states, allows tutors to provide instruction. However, parents must keep records of each child’s education.

Louisiana has some unusual requirements regarding curriculum. While the state does not require a specific curriculum, it asks for a “sustained” curriculum of “quality at least equal to that offered by public schools at the same grade level.” It is unclear how homeschool parents are supposed to assess and compare the quality of the curriculum to that of the public schools. Perhaps in an effort to bridge this gap, the state offers parents the use of state textbooks, if available, and with a deposit.

Homeschooled students must receive at least 180 days of instruction, but the hours or subjects required are not specified. Homeschooled students in Louisiana must provide annual proof of progress, which may include a portfolio; verification that the student took a standardized exam and scored adequately (the actual test scores are not a requirement); or a letter from a certified teacher attesting to the quality of the education and the student’s progress. Homeschool students may take a state test for a fee to meet testing requirements.

Nonpublic students, including homeschooled students, do not have access to the courses, clubs, and sports offered at their local public schools. Some students may play sports, but only if approved by the school principal. Louisiana is one of only 13 states nationwide that do not provide access to extracurricular activities. Further, nonpublic schooled students do not qualify for any special needs services the local public schools provide. Specifically, home study programs do not qualify for services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. §1400, et seq., nor for modifications and/or accommodations under §504 of the Rehabilitation Act or the Americans with Disabilities Education Act in Louisiana.

State Data

Louisiana does provide limited publicly available information on the state’s homeschooled students. In 2002, districts across the state reported nearly 5,800 homeschooled students. By 2015, that number doubled; by 2019, homeschool enrollment grew to 13,000 students. In 2021, reported homeschool enrollment reached 19,000 students.

Louisiana is one of a handful of states that provides publicly available disaggregated data. However, they only provide homeschool enrollment by district despite collecting additional information from homeschooled families.

A bar chart showing homeschool rates in Louisiana from 1999 to 2023, with rates steadily increasing from 1999 to 2018, increasing drastically in 2019, and then dropping slightly in 2022.

According to 2020 U.S. Census estimates, 6.2% of Louisiana’s students were homeschooled in the spring and grew to 14.5% by fall. Although the U.S. Census considers the percentage of families while the state counts the number of students, the trends are similar. During the 2022 and 2023 school years, the U.S. Census estimates indicate that 4.1% of Louisiana K-12 students, on average, were homeschooled.

Download Homeschool Hub State Data

Cross-Sector Comparison

During the 2019-20 academic year, 1.6% of Louisiana’s K-12 students were homeschooled. Homeschool participation in the state was much lower than the 14% of students attending private schools. Charter school participation in Louisiana was slightly lower than private school participation, at 10%. In 2021-22, 2% of Louisiana’s K-12 students were homeschooled. Homeschool participation in the state was much lower than the nearly 13% of students attending private schools. Charter school participation in Louisiana was slightly lower than private
school participation, at almost 11%.

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

School Choice Context

Louisiana has open enrollment (inter- and intra-district choice) in its public school system. The state also allows for public magnet and charter schools. For private schools, Louisiana has multiple funding options for families, including four private school choice programs. However, it does not appear that homeschool families meet any of the requirements of these programs. It is unclear if homeschool families who participate in a microschool, homeschool co-op, or hybrid homeschool might qualify.

Commentary

Louisiana’s curricular requirements are unlike those of any other state. Judging the quality of textbooks is complicated; curriculum experts in school systems find this challenging. In general, homeschool policy requirements should be purposeful and feasible. This requirement may not meet that objective. Louisiana should consider increasing access to educational opportunities for all students by allowing nonpublic students to have the option to take courses, play sports, and participate in other extracurricular offerings at their local public schools, either for free or at an affordable cost. This trend of increased access continues to expand across the country.

Last updated December 2023.