After decades of having the law on the books, Arkansas lawmakers have done away with state-mandated testing of homeschoolers.
Dee Black of the Home School Legal Defense Association says the state-mandated testing really served no purpose anymore. "At the time that homeschool laws began to be enacted in the early 1980s, there was still a good deal of skepticism about whether parents could succeed in home instruction – and so these requirements were put into some of the state laws," he explains.
Governor Asa Hutchinson signed House Bill 1381 into law earlier this month, repealing the law that required homeschool students to take a nationally recognized achievement test selected by the State Board of Education. The move will save taxpayers in the Natural State an estimated quarter-million dollars annually that was being spent to administer the tests – scores for which weren't even being reported.
Still, Black acknowledges that homeschooling parents often like to have the option of administering some form of a standardized test to their children.
"Parents, of course, are still free [to] – and often do – have their children take some sort of standardized achievement test just to get some sort of an indication about how they may be comparing to public school students," the HSLDA senior counsel points out.
HSLDA says homeschool students have outscored their public school counterparts on standardized tests year after year.
The new law goes into effect 90 days after the end of the current legislative session, meaning homeschoolers will still be required to take the state tests scheduled for the current school year. The measure was sponsored by Republican State Representative Nate Bell (District 20).