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Updated Guide to PA Homeschool Law available free on PHAA website
Howard Richman, 11/14/2014

Susan and I just updated our Guide to PA Homeschool Law to reflect the changes in the law that went into effect on October 31 when HB 1013 was signed by Governor Corbett. You can read and print out your own free copy of this 29 page guide at the following URL:


Our 32 page Guide to the PA Homeschoolers Diploma is also available as a free download on the same website:


If you lose these links, you can find then both on the home page of the PHAA (Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency) website: www.phaa.org....


Comments: 40

HB 1013 passed the House today. It awaits Governor Corbett's signature.
Howard Richman, 10/20/2014

The homeschool bill, HB 1013, passed the PA House of Representtives today. The vote ws 129 to 68. It is sure to be signed by Governor Corbett before the election....  



Comments: 42

HB 1013 passed the Senate yesterday. It awaits a possible concurrence vote in the House today.
Howard Richman, 10/16/2014

Yesterday, the homeschool bill (House Bill 1013) passed the full PA senate by a vote of 37 to 11. (Click here to see who voted for it and who against.) It has passed four of the six hurdles. The House still has to "concur" with the language changes made by the Senate and Governor Corbett still needs to sign the bill.

It is on today's PA House Calendar for a possible concurrence vote today. The PA House convenes at 11:00am for a rare Thursday session. (They usually are only in session Mondays through Wednesdays.)  There is a lot on the House calendar today, so they may not get to HB 1013.

It it passes the concurrence vote today, it will probably be signed by the Governor before the November election....


Comments: 29

Homeschool Bill Passes Senate Education Committee
Howard Richman, 9/24/2014

The PA Homeschool bill (House Bill 1013) just passed the Senate Education Committee. The changes made by that committee were very minor, simply a few clarifications of wordings. The bill just needs to get voted on by the Senate, voted on again by the House, and then it would go to the Governor. I expect it to pass and get signed before the November election:

The main provisions are:

1. Parents would no longer need to turn in portfolios, just the evaluation letters.

2. Parent-issued diplomas would have to be recognized by the state.

3. The recognition of homeschool organization diplomas, now a matter of policy, will now be a matter of law.

If it passes, you won't have to turn in your portfolios, just your evaluation letters next June.


Comments: 59

You can register at the door for PHAA's High School at Home Conference on Friday (July 11)
Howard Richman, 7/9/2014

In order to register, please arrive by 8:45am. The cost (which includes the buffet lunch and snacks) is $39.95 for the first person in the family and $34.95 for each additional person.

This will be PHAA's (Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency) nineteenth annual High School at Home Conference. It will take place on Friday, July 11, 2014, from 9AM to 5PM at the Hotel Carlisle (1700 Harrisburg Pike, Carlisle, PA 17015) on Route 11 just North of Turnpike and I81. There are sessions especially designed for parents, homeschooled students, and evaluators. 

New to High School Parents: Find out how the PHAA high school diploma works, lab science and foreign languages at home, and get tips on making the transition to high school from a panel of experienced homeschooling parents who’ve been there.

Experienced Parents: Help your kids make the transition to college through college scholarships, preparing for the college interview, and writing the college application essay. Improve your program with new ideas for AP courses, honors courses, lab science and foreign language courses.

Students: Find out about joining the Excelsior staff, volunteering to make a difference or starting a business that actually makes money. Look forward to college or employment with sessions about preparing for the college interview, military service or writing the college application essay.

Evaluators: There will be sessions outlining how to award credits for the PHAA diploma and a chance for evaluators to discuss the tricky situations that they have encountered. Many sessions will help you to be a better guidance counselor for your evaluees.

Here's the conference schedule:...


Comments: 26

A great amendment was added to HB 1013 today!
Howard Richman, 6/27/2014

I am very pleased that Pennsylvania House Bill 1013, a bill that improves the PA Home Education Law, was amended on the House Floor today in a way which should please all homeschoolers. Supervisor-issued diplomas (also signed by the evaluator) will be recognized by law, and there is also specific language putting into law that  homeschool associations recognized by the PA Department of Education can also issue diplomas. 

HB 1013 has now been referred to the Appropriations Committee and will likely pass at the end of this month as part of the grand budget compromise between the Republicans in the House, the Republicans in the Senate and the Corbett administration.

Here's what happened today. First, Representative Mark Longietti proposed the amendment that we had asked him to propose, but it was narrowly defeated. The vote was 99 in favor and 103 against. Nine Republican representatives voted for Longietti’s amendment, even though Longietti is a Democrat.

Then Representative James R. Roebuck, the ranking Democrat on the House Education Committee, proposed two amendments to the bill. They were both defeated because Republicans, almost unanimously, voted against them.

Then Representative Will Tallman, whose wife Suzanne is the homeschool liaison at the Pennsylvania Department of Education, proposed a great amendment which leaves the new provision recognizing parent-issued diplomas intact, but adds in new language continuing recognition of diplomas issued by “an approved diploma-granting organization.” That amendment adds two new sections to the bill. To Section D.1 (1) it adds:...


Comments: 26

Background on the Home Education Association Diploma
Dr. Howard Richman - Executive Director, Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency, Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency

Currently homeschooled students can only receive a Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) grant for college if they have either:

  1. Received a high school diploma from a PDE-recognized home education association, or
  2. Received a certificate of high school completion signed by their local school superintendent, or
  3. Passed the GED.

Pennsylvania's House Bill 1013 would add a fourth option, a parent-issued diploma that is also signed by the home education program evaluator. Our organization favors this new provision, but when we read HB 1013 carefully, we became very concerned. While adding the parent-issued diploma, the bill may have inadvertently taken away recognition from the home education association diploma.

In order to understand this unintended consequence, it is necessary to understand the history and recognition of the home education association diploma option.

The PA Home Education Law Implied a Diploma but Didn’t Say Who Would Give It

When the PA home education law passed in December 1988, Pennsylvania became the first state in the country to recognize high school graduation from a home education program. It did so through language that was in the original bipartisan home education bill put together by Republican Representative (now Congressman) Joe Pitts, and continued in the second version of the bill put together by Democratic House Education Committee Chairman Ron Cowell. I am referring to Section D of the home education law which states:

(D) The following minimum courses in grades nine through twelve are established as a requirement for graduation in a home education program: 
(1) Four years of English. 
(2) Three years of mathematics. 
(3) Three years of science. 
(4) Three years of social studies. 
(5) Two years of arts and humanities.

At the 11th hour, just before passage in the House, the Appropriations Committee, at the request of Governor Casey’s Department of Education, removed Section D from the bill. That was when we realized that when a law specifies graduation requirements, it implies that there is a diploma.

When the bill came up for a vote in the House, Representative Cowell put the graduation requirements back into the bill with an amendment. He told the House:...


Comments: 21

HB 1013 does not threaten the PHAA Diploma
Howard Richman, 6/19/2014

HB 1013, a bill that passed the PA House Education Committee on June 4, specifies that parents and the senior year evaluators give the diplomas that are provided for in the PA Home Education Law.

When I read it, I realized that it left out the ten home education associations that are currently recognized by Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) policy to issue those diplomas. I concluded that it could end recognition of the organization I direct, Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency (PHAA). I was wrong!

Although HB 1013 threatens the right of PHAA to issue recognized diplomas, it does not threaten PHAA’s right to accredit home education diplomas. In the unlikely event that HB 1013 were to pass without change, the parent and evaluator could sign the parent-issued diploma and PHAA would add its recognized seal of accreditation.

I would like to publicly thank Suzanne Tallman, the homeschool liaison at the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) for correcting me on this issue. After she read my June 12 posting on this board (Would HB 1013 affect Home Education Association Diplomas?), she wrote an e-mail to one of our board members, Laszlo Pasztor, explaining my mistake. Here’s the relevant part of her email. First she quoted what I had written:...


Comments: 16

Would HB 1013 affect Home Education Association Diplomas?
Howard Richman, 6/12/2014

On June 4, House Bill 1013 passed the House Education Committee. In many ways it is a good bill. It continues the important role of the homeschool evaluator in homeschooled students' lives. It would greatly reduce the hassle of complying with the homeschool law. It also provides for a recognized parent-issued diploma (also signed by the evaluator) that is entitled to all of the rights and privileges of a normal high school diploma.

But when I read the bill carefully, I became very concerned. While adding the parent-issued diploma to the law, the Representatives in the House Education Committee may have taken out recognition for the home education association diploma. As founder and Executive Director of Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency (PHAA), one of those diploma granting associations, I was concerned about the possible harm to our current students as well as to those who would have wanted our diploma in the future.

The more that I heard from Representatives and from the proponents of the bill, the more I realized that it was not their intention to take away recognition from the home education association diploma. See, for example, the latest posting on the CHAP website (HB 1013 will not change homeschoolers’ choice to receive a diploma from a diploma program). Although I disagree with the conclusion of this article, I was pleased that it was not the intention of CHAP to take away recognition from our diploma.

HB 1013 may actually be a golden opportunity to not only clarify that parent-issued diplomas could be formally recognized by law, but also that the 24-year PDE policy of recognition of home education association diplomas also be given full recognition by statute. The two options can work very well together and give parents in Pennsylvania even more options to choose from as they educate their children into the high school years. Our organization, PHAA, has proposed a very simple amendment that would not at all affect the parent-issued diploma, but would eliminate any unintended consequences that might happen if HB 1013 were passed as currently written. We believe that all homeschoolers could work together to help pass this legislation with this amendment....


Comments: 27

Still time to sign up for the July 13, 2012 PHAA High School at Home Conference! Located in Carlisle PA, right off PA Turnpike!
Susan Richman, 7/10/2012

You can still register for PHAA's (Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency) 17th Annual High School at Home Conference on Friday, July 13, 2012, from 9AM to 5PM at the Hotel Carlisle (formerly Embers) on Route 11 just North of Turnpike and I81. This conference is for parents, homeschooled students, and evaluators.

The theme for this year's conference is: Taking Stock and Taking Initiative—Creating a Positive Homeschooling Atmosphere. We hope you can join us and get recharged for homeschooling throughout the high school years ahead. The registration fee of $39.95 includes a wonderful buffet luncheon. 

The Keynote Speaker this year will be PHAA Board member (and AP Psychology online teacher) Bonnie Gonzalez, speaking about: Family Dynamics: Helping it Work for you in High School at Home  

There will be 5 workshop sessions, with three to four choices each session-- you're sure to find topics of good interest, from learning about the PHAA diploma program, hearing from many of our AP Online teachers, gaining ideas on foreign language learning, and writing for many varied purposes for high schoolers (from joining the student staff of the PHAA student newsletter, to learning about 'creative non-fiction', to setting goals for writing in high school, to getting ideas for writing a college application essay that works!).

You'll even hear from a Gettysburg Tour Guide (who's also a homeschool dad!) about how he got into his present line of work-- and gain a sense of how to decide what direction you want to move for your future! (And yes, he'll show you some neat Civil War stuff too!

Learn about getting in the running for possible merit scholarships for college, why and how to include foreign travel into your homeschooling goals, and high tech careers of the future. You can even explore Life After Homeschooling-- Are we really preparing our kids for their future? You'll hear about ways to use a wide range of outside teachers and classes and tutors and resources to help you out when you don't feel confident to teach a particular subject yourself (or when you realize your teen just need to work with someone besides mom or dad sometimes!).

So, join us at the PHAA High School at Home Conference this coming Friday-- it's not too late to register! And we can take 'registrants at the door', too. 

Parents: Gain the courage to homeschool through high school! This conference will help you with the information and vision that you need to prepare your children and yourself for their future and recharge.... 


Comments: 48

PHAA mentioned in excellent homeschooling article in The Philadelphia Tribune
Howard Richman, 6/4/2012

Michael Robinson wrote an excellent article about homeschooling that appeared on May 11 in the Philadelphia Tribune (Home-Schooling Grows More Popular). Here is what he wrote about PHAA:

Dr. Howard B. Richman, founder/executive director of Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency (PHAA), hosts an annual conference in Carlisle that consistently draws several hundred home school parents seeking legal information, textbooks, curricula, supplies, workshops and student panel presentations to equip and edify novice and experienced homeschooling families. Certified home education evaluators also attend PHAA’s annual conference, “(The evaluators) serve as guidance counselors to the families that they (serve),” said Richman.

“(PHAA) is first of the home school organizations recognized by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to give diplomas to graduates of home education programs,” said Richman, who founded PHAA in 1991. Dr. Richman and his wife, Susan, have homeschooled all their children. One son, Jesse, is an associate professor at Old Dominion University while another son, Jacob, is a programmer for Google. A daughter, Molly, is a mother and teacher of advance placement English in Israel while another daughter, Hannah, is an artist and she works at a synagogue in Boston and she is a graduate of Brandeis University.

According to Dr. Richman, “The biggest advantage of home schooling is that you get a closer family out of (the experience).”

The whole article is worth reading. Just click on the link below:



Comments: 8

Program for July 16 2010 High School at Home Conference
Howard Richman, 6/14/2010

Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency
High School at Home
15th Annual Conference
Friday July 16, 2010
Hotel Carlisle, Carlisle PA

(schedule as of 6/14/2010, subject to change)

 THEME: Gaining Vision, Gaining Tools

8:45-9:00 Registration and snacks in main ballroom....


Comments: 4

PHAA Bylaws Now Require Narrative Evaluations
Howard Richman, 4/28/2010

Starting with evaluations for the 09-10 school year, PHAA evaluators will need to write personal, narrative evaluations to maintain their standing in PHAA.

[Reprinted from Issue 107 of PA Homeschoolers Newsletter]

What makes our homeschool diploma program, Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency, different from the other six organizations recognized by the PA Department of Education? Well, there are lots of things:

  • Last I compared, we were the biggest -- 374 graduates in 2009.
  • We have the best student newsletter, The Excelsior.
  • We are state-wide and have two graduation ceremonies, in both Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.
  • We have the best high school at home conference, held each July in Carlisle.

But all of those are superficial. What really makes our organization different is our high standards. We believe in excellence and do our best to attain it. Our latest bylaw change testifies to that: at our membership meeting on July 17, 2009 at our conference, our members unanimously voted to propose an amendment to the PHAA bylaws that would raise our standards regarding evaluation letters....


Comments: 6


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