Contacting Your Legislators

To find your state legislators, go to this interactive map and enter your street address.

There are also the Oregon House, Senate, and Joint Committees on Education.

Tips for contacting legislators

NOTE: Due to current unusual circumstances where public school students are learning at home, we will be following some legislative activities regarding public schools in addition to those relating only to homeschooling.

Update on Homeschool Testing Requirements and Registration

June 18, 2020: Annie Marges, homeschool coordinator for Oregon Department of Education has written to OHEN:

The State Board of Education has approved the temporary rule change to extend the deadline for homeschool testing this year to November 1, 2020.

May 13, 2020: Annie Marges, homeschool coordinator for Oregon Department of Education has written to OHEN:

Although I do not have any new updates for you, I wanted to check in and clarify some questions that I am getting, assuming that you are too:

  • Families may choose to home school their children at any time during the school year, even with just a few weeks to go.
  • Home schooling students who participate in interscholastic activities and need to maintain eligibility for the OSAA may submit evidence of satisfactory progress to the OSAA in lieu of annual testing.
  • Virtual test proctoring is an option for home school testing (a home school tester would need to develop protocol that safeguards test materials and ensures the tester have sight of the student before, during, and after the test).

Next Thursday I present the issue of Home School Testing to the State Board and request an extension on the [August 15th] deadline. As soon as I have an answer I will let you all know. I am also sending this information out to our home school testers and ESD liaisons.

April 17, 2020: Annie Marges, homeschool coordinator for Oregon Department of Education has written to OHEN: “In working with our Legal Director, we decided to wait until May to present our rule change to the State Board regarding the August 15 deadline for home school testing. Asking for the extension in May (5/22) will allow for more time for testing (extension of the deadline to November, rather than October). Given the extraordinary circumstances, we are confident that the rule change will be accepted. I will send out an official answer when I have it.”

April 14, 2020: According to Pattie Lincoln, homeschooling adviser for Multnomah County ESD, the question of homeschool testing requirements will be taken up with the state Board of Education on April 16.

Annie Marges, homeschool coordinator for Oregon Department of Education, further clarifies: “Homeschool testing is written into statute and rule, which means that the Legislature would need to approve a change in order to cancel testing for this year. Instead, we are going to the State School Board to ask for a postponement. I have let our homeschool testers and our ESD Liaisons know this is the plan and to stay tuned. This question has been particularly tricky because of the Governor’s order to cancel state testing this year; unfortunately for homeschoolers (and private schoolers) this order does not apply to them.”

Regarding homeschool registration, Annie states: “I believe that most ESDs have an electronic notification form, so once a family has filled that out, they should be good to go. ESDs are not currently staffed in their buildings, and my understanding is that everyone is telecommuting. As such, I am not sure if letters will be received, but all a family can do is cover things on their end.”

Clarification Regarding Enrollment / Transfer for Public School Students

April 14, 2020: This letter from Oregon Department of Education   (https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/ORED/bulletins/2860c38) clarifies the state’s policies on school transfers or enrollments. In particular:

“Public charter schools, including virtual public charter schools, may enroll students based on their policies, charter agreements and state law. As ADMw [weighted average daily membership] will not fluctuate during this period, virtual public charter schools and other public charter schools should consider working with their sponsoring district to cap their enrollment so that they do not enroll beyond their staffing capacity.”

Letter from Hillsboro School District to Teachers

March 31, 2020: The following is an update received by teachers in the Hillsboro School District. Additional clarification from ODE is pending.

As a recap:

  • On March 12, we learned that students would lose seven school days. 
  • On March 17, we learned that students would lose over a month of school.
  • On March 30, we learned that there is a very real potential that our students, like those in many other states, may not return to school this academic year. 

When we believed students would only lose a few days of school, the plan was potentially to make up some of those days in the summer; when we believed students would lose over a month of school, the Governor ordered schools to deliver “supplemental education and learning supports to students to the extent practical.” Now that the possibility of losing the rest of the school year is before us, ODE is calling on school districts to provide Distance Learning for All, which would include new, graded content for students. 

Distance learning is defined as instruction in which the student and instructor are in different locations. Students engaging in distance learning have access to appropriate educational materials and receive ongoing interaction with their teacher(s). It is important to note that distance learning includes multimedia communication and blended learning strategies, not just digital/online learning. 

All districts are required to have their Distance Learning for All plan in place by Monday, April 13, 2020. Districts are to approach Distance Learning for All with a focus on care, community, and continuity of learning. 

Key elements of Distance Learning for All are:

  • Every student regularly connects with their teacher(s).
  • Teachers and students prioritize time together to focus on the most important or relevant learning.
  • Teachers, families, and caregivers work as a team, anchored in partnership. Together, teachers and families co-facilitate learning, design consistent routines, and establish the learning environment. 
  • Teachers continue to monitor, report, and record each student’s progress toward learning goals and standards, encouraging critical problem-solving, collaboration, communication, and creativity. 
  • Schools provide multiple, flexible opportunities – for high school students in particular – to earn credit on their pathway to graduation.* 

(*Please note that specific guidance for seniors has not yet been released by ODE. We anticipate this by mid-April and will communicate the information as soon as possible.)

ODE will be releasing additional guidance over the next few weeks and we will communicate new information as we have it. This will be a new experience for all of us – schools, students, teachers, and families alike. Please know that the system will not be perfect in the beginning and that we all need to have patience and grace for one another as we figure things out together. 

Clarification Regarding Status of Virtual Public Charter Schools

March 27, 2020: Email from ODE’s Charter School Specialist to OHEN:

Thank you for your email and questions regarding virtual public charter schools and other online schools. There has been inaccurate information published recently and we would like to provide you with more clarity.

On March 17, all public schools, including those operated by school districts, education service districts (ESDs), and public charter schools were closed through April 28 under Governor Brown’s Executive Order 20-08. This order is consistent with the mitigation strategies recommended by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) with regard to COVID-19, in order to slow the spread of the disease and to protect Oregonians at the highest risk of contracting the disease.

This executive order includes virtual public charter schools as well as other online schools operated by school districts in Oregon. However, schools that were delivering online school prior to the closure or were capable of fully delivering school online after the closure – without in-person contact – were allowed to continue to operate under guidance by the Oregon Department of Education. The continuation of services by online or virtual schools operated school districts or virtual charter schools has not been interrupted as further guidance has been developed.

In order to continue receiving allocations from the SSF [state school fund] as allowed by the executive order, schools were also directed to provide supplemental education and learning supports (SEALS) to students as well as emergency management response to provide meals to students and emergency child care for first responders, emergency workers, health care professionals. Under this guidance, virtual public charter schools may continue to operate by providing SEALS through regular delivery of online school to students and coordinating with their sponsor school district regarding any support for emergency management response. For virtual public charter schools this will look quite robust as they have already been offering a majority of their services virtually. In many ways, it may look like business as usual. Additional guidance to all schools and districts on supplemental education and learning supports will be released by the Department early next week and will include how schools can provide a spectrum of support to students, including online instructional options, throughout the extended closure.

We highly recommend that virtual public charter schools work with their sponsoring district to continue offering a high level of support to their students while continuing to develop plans for possible COVID-19 impacts on staff, students and families in the coming weeks. We appreciate your care for students, staff, and families during this unprecedented time of change in our education system as our whole state, country, and the global community grapples with how best to move forward. To access the most current information and guidance from the Department, please visit our COVID-19 Resources webpage and FAQ.

March 26: From Oregon Department of Education (message to parents at a charter school):

On March 26 Willamette Week published an article about virtual public charter schools that included inaccurate information and stated the Department ordered virtual charter schools to stop teaching students – this is not true.

On March 17, all public schools, including those operated by school districts, education service districts (ESDs), and public charter schools were closed through April 28 under Governor Brown’sExecutive Order 20-08. This order is consistent with the mitigation strategies recommended by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) with regard to COVID-19, in order to slow the spread of the disease and to protect Oregonians at the highest risk of contracting the disease.

This executive order includes virtual public charter schools as well as other online schools operated by school districts in Oregon. However, schools that were delivering online school prior to the closure or were capable of fully delivering school online after the closure – without in-person contact – were allowed to continue to operate under guidance by the Oregon Department of Education. The continuation of services by online or virtual schools operated school districts or virtual charter schools has not been interrupted as further guidance has been developed.

Governor’s Executive Order 20-12

On March 23, 2020 Governor Kate Brown issued a statewide executive order for Oregonians to stay home. All schools in Oregon have been closed at least through April 28. Additional restrictions for gatherings and events have been issued. The full order lists what businesses and services that may stay open, and what businesses and services must close. This affects school children and homeschoolers alike, as it restricts field trips, parties, play groups, classes, recreational facilities and more.

Stay up to date at the Oregon Coronavirus Information and Resources Page.

Briefing to Educators by US Department of Education and Center for Disease Control

On March 20, 2020, US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that students impacted by school closures due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic can bypass standardized testing for the 2019-2020 school year. Upon a proper request, the Department will grant a waiver to any state that is unable to assess its students due to the ongoing national emergency, providing relief from federally mandated testing requirements for this school year. At the time of this announcement, it was unclear how this would impact homeschoolers’ testing requirements in Oregon.

“Education Stakeholders” were invited to an online briefing by Secretary DeVos and other members of government regarding how the current situation affects educators and education systems. While homeschooling was not specifically mentioned, these measures will have impact for both school children and homeschoolers. Notes about the briefing are available here.

The Department continues to update www.ed.gov/coronavirus with information for students, parents, educators and local leaders.

SB 321

In June 2015 the Governor signed SB 321, which changes the age for compulsory school attendance (or homeschool registration) from age 7 to age 6, effective July 2016. Beginning in the 2016-2017 academic year, children who are SIX (6) by September 1, 2016 will be required to register in school or as homeschoolers.

If your child attends an online charter school, you are not required to register as a homeschooler, as the charter schools are public schools.

The testing requirements for homeschoolers has not changed from previous requirements. Testing is required at the end of 3rd, 5th, 8th, and 10th grades for children who have been homeschooled at least 18 months (since February 15th of the prior academic year).

Please feel free to email us at info@www.ohen.org with any concerns.

Read the specifics of the bill at the Oregon Legislature’s website here.

HB 3446

House Bill 3446 had a Public Hearing on Apr 8, 2013. HB 3446 would remove the standardized testing and reporting requirements to which homeschoolers are still subject but other privately educated children are not. HB 3446 is sponsored by Representative Barker and Senator Starr, at the request of Oregon Home Education Network (OHEN) and Oregon Christian Education Association Network (OCEANetwork).

To read the content of HB 3446, go here.

The Statutes and Administrative Rules governing Oregon homeschoolers are available on the OHEN website here.