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South Dakota Homeschool Laws & Requirements

South Dakota Homeschool Laws & Requirements
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Home education is referred to as “alternative instruction” by the South Dakota Department of Education. Understanding the laws and requirements for homeschooling in South Dakota is important for a successful homeschooling journey. Thankfully homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, however the Mount Rushmore State like the rest of the states, offer different homeschool laws.

This information should by no means be interpreted as legal advice. It is your responsibility to interpret and understand the laws that you will be homeschooling under.

South Dakota Homeschool Requirements

This is what you need to homeschool your child in South Dakota:

  1. Complete and file a notification for Public School Exemption Certificate annually
  2. Have your child take a standardized achievement test in grades 4, 8, or 11.
  3. Provide education for an equivalent period of time to public schools
  4. Include language arts and mathematics
  5. Keep good records

It’s important to keep in mind that the Public School Exemption form must be submitted annually to your public school administration office where you reside.

Parents  are required to declare exemption for students up to age 18 and must not teach more than 22 students at a time and there is no requirement to be certified.

You should note that it is required for a homeschooled student to show satisfactory academic progress, otherwise their certificate of excuse may not be renewed.

South Dakota Public School Exemption Form

The first step to homeschooling in South Dakota requires completing the Public School Exemption Certificate. The form must be submitted to the superintendent of schools in the public school administration office where you reside.

Your Public School Exemption Form should include:

  • Your Public School District
  • Name, address, and date of birth of all children being homeschooled

Along with the form, parents must also include one of three  documents listed below:

  • A copy of your child’s birth certificate to be submitted within 30 days of starting your homeschool program or 30 days of excusing your child from public school attendance.
  • An affidavit in place of birth certificate issued by the Department of Health
  • An Affidavit notarized or witnessed by 2 or more people, affirming that the child listed on the form is the same child appearing on the birth certificate. (you may find this affirming affidavit on the second page for the exemption form, here)

The great thing about homeschooling in South Dakota is that as soon as the Public School Exemption form is filed, it becomes  immediately effective. The school board of South Dakota requires no approval action once your homeschool family submits the form.

South Dakota Homeschool Testing Requirements

If your child is in grades 4, 8, and 11, the Department of Education of South Dakota requires them to take  a standardized achievement test of basic skills. The test is free of charge but if you decide to have your child take another nationally standardized achievement test, you will be responsible for the charge.

Every year in January, your local public-school district will notify you about this testing requirement.

This norm-referenced test for math and reading will be given to your child by the department of education at no cost to you. If you are not familiar with what a norm-referenced test is, these tests help report on your child’s learning performance performance compared to the average student.

One thing to keep in mind is that tests can never be mailed out of state or out of country, so you will have to pick up the test from the district. Fortunately, you may mail the test results to your local school district office.

Please note that if a student doesn’t show satisfactory academic progress the school board may not renew the child’s certificate of excuse.

More information relating to home education rules for South Dakota can be found at

Full Details of South Dakota’s Homeschool Laws

Homeschool Recordkeeping in South Dakota

South Dakota homeschool laws do not have official recordkeeping requirements. The school district is responsible for keeping your child’s test records on file. If there is probable cause to investigate against compliance, according to 13-27-3, The department of education may inspect records of the homeschool program, academic progress, or attendance, to determine if instruction is being provided.

Homeschool Graduation Requirements in South Dakota

Homeschool graduation requirements in South Dakota are not strict. Parents looking to have their child graduate as a homeschooler have no requirements to follow because South Dakota does not monitor high school graduation for homeschoolers. Since parents provide their own diploma, they can decide the homeschool graduation standards for their students. Nonetheless, students who are looking to further their education should consider course requirements for other institutions when applying for admission.

We suggest that parents align their courses with specific entrance requirements, so that their students are on track for admission into their preferred college, university, technical school or other institution. Learn how to assign credits for your high school homeschool courses here.

Enrolling in Public School after Homeschooling

Switching from homeschooling to public school is not as difficult as some may think. As long as you have properly maintained records and your child has developed some understanding in certain subjects, a rigorous process can be avoided.

South Dakota homeschoolers who are transitioning to the public school setting have the option of utilizing a credit-by-exam program. According, to the South Dakota Department of Education, this program is used in instances where students “who have never taken the course attempt to “test out” for credit. In those cases, students who have never entered the classroom take an exam without taking the actual course to show they have mastered the content and should receive transcripted credit”. This helps to show proficiency in a subject that was taught through home education.

Additional Resources Related to Homeschooling in South Dakota

Do you have other questions about homeschooling in South Dakota? You may find the following pages helpful.

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