In Tennessee, families have several educational opportunities for their children in grades K-12, including home schooling or home education. Tennessee state law (Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-3050(a)(1)) identifies a home school as a “school conducted or directed by a parent or parents or a legal guardian or guardians for their own children.”
The law identifies two ways parents or legal guardians may choose to home school their children: independent home school or enrollment in an approved church-related non-public school as defined by Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-50-801.
Sometimes parents or legal guardians can choose a third option for managing their child’s education from home by enrolling their child in an approved accredited online school. This option does not meet the definition of a home school as defined in Tennessee state law; however, it provides an alternative to a traditional brick-and-mortar school by allowing the student to attend their online school from home.
Requirements for home school vary depending upon the type of program selected by the family. Read more about each option below.
Independent Home School
Registering as an independent home school means that the student’s parent or legal guardian is the teacher of record and is responsible for ensuring all educational requirements are met under the law. To independently home school in Tennessee, parents or legal guardians must possess a high school diploma or a high school equivalency credential approved by the state board of education and must submit an Intent to Home School form to the school district where the family resides. Parents may withdraw their child to independent home school at any point during the school year. To continue operating as an independent home school, a new Intent to Home School form must be submitted before the start of each school year. Students graduating from an independent home school receive their diplomas and transcripts from their parent-teacher.
Independent home school students must take the TCAP assessment in grades five, seven and nine.
Each Tennessee school district has a home school coordinator whose responsibilities include assisting families with compliance for independent home school.
Forms and documents for assisting with this process are available below.
Church-Related Umbrella School (Category IV)
A church-related “umbrella” school is a satellite program offered by some Category IV non-public schools. “Umbrella” or satellite programs allow parents or legal guardians to participate as a teacher in the church-related school under the supervision of the school’s director. Under Tennessee state law, parent-teachers are subject to the requirements established by the church-related school for home-school teachers and must possess at least a high school diploma or a high school equivalency credential approved by the state board of education.
An Intent to Home School form is not required for students enrolled in a church-related school because these programs are approved non-public schools. Instead, parents or legal guardians must provide proof of enrollment in the church-related school to the local school district. As a non-public school, the church-related umbrella school is responsible for student record-keeping and testing requirements. Students graduating from an umbrella school receive their diploma and transcripts from the church-related school at which they are enrolled.
To access a list of state-approved Category IV church-related umbrella schools, visit the Non-Public Schools webpage and click on the current Non-Public Schools List. Umbrella programs are identified in the first column titled “Satellite.”
Accredited Online School (Category III)
An accredited online school is a Category III non-public school that is accredited by a Tennessee State Board of Education (SBE) approved regional accrediting agency.
An Intent to Home School form is not required for students enrolled in an accredited online school because these programs are approved non-public schools. Instead, parents or legal guardians must provide proof of enrollment to the local school district. As a non-public school, the accredited online school is responsible for student record-keeping and testing requirements. Students graduating from an accredited online school receive their diploma and transcripts from the online school where they are enrolled.
A partial list of Category III accredited online schools, including a list of approved regional accreditors is available below. It is the responsibility of the parent or legal guardian to ensure that their student has been enrolled in an online school that is approved in Tennessee.
Resources and Information
Tennessee law requires home schools to be provided information about meningococcal disease annually. Use the links below to learn more about the causes, symptoms, and transmission of meningococcal disease.
Information for School Districts
Local education agencies should have a designated home school coordinator to work with families interested in home schooling their child and to act as a point-of-contact for the Tennessee Department of Education.
Home school coordinators or other district-authorized designees are required to submit the Non-Public & Home School Reporting form by December 15 and May 15 each school year to Home.School@tn.gov. The information gathered from these reports is used for multiple purposes, including the allocation of some federal funds to the local school district.
Parents or legal guardians do not need to submit this form.