Vocabulary for Home Education


This vocabulary or glossary is incomplete and needs to be refined.  Your input and questions are essential for this to be a more useful tool, so please do respond with suggestions to Claiborne Thornton at [email protected].


Church Related School:  This term is defined in Tennessee law, TCA Section 49-50-801.  Certain organizations are authorized to recognize a school as a member of their organization meeting their standards for membership and therefore the State's requirements. 

Church Related School Umbrella Program:  When a CRS offers enrollment for a home educated student, that program is designated by the law as a legal way to satisfy the enrollment requirement of state law. 

Compulsory Attendance: The law of the State of Tennessee requiring that every student be enrolled in what the state calls a school.  (For the first 100+ years after Tennessee became a state there was no compulsory attendance law.  For the last 100+ years we have had a law, with origins in the Communist Manifesto, applied to Tennessee families.  Compulsory attendance should be studied, considered, and might be found wanting.  Tennesseans should evaluate returning to what is required in our state's constitution, "Section 12. The state of Tennessee recognizes the inherent value of education and encourages its support. The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance, support and eligibility standards of a system of free public schools.")

Co-op:  An educational setting where several students engage in a subject, frequently taught by a parent with a set of skills. 

Credits:  Credits are assigned for high school students successfully completing a class.  A transferring student may claim credits.  The receiving school may require that a specific "end of course" test be taken at the enrolling school for the credits to be accepted. 

Department of Education, or DOE:  The Tennessee DOE is part of the Executive Branch of government and is charged and authorized by the state legislature to apply the laws passed by the legislature to schools and the students enrolled in those schools. 

Enroll:  Enrollment is required to satisfy the state law.  It is legally required for all school age children.  The education your child receives is an issue separate from enrollment. 

Grand Divisions:  Many in government of the State of Tennessee refer to three Grand Divisions, which are East Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, and West Tennessee.  The Tennessee River divides west and middle.  The plateau divides middle and east Tennessee. 

High School:  Students in grades 8 - 12 are required to complete a series of credits in order to receive a high school diploma, a high school degree.  Upon transfer into a new school, that school's leadership has discretion as to whether an "end of course" test will be required for each credit to be accepted by that school and therefore contribute toward that high school diploma. 

Independent Home Schooler:  When a child is enrolled with their local superintendent of schools, the DOE refers to them as an Independent Home Schooler.  

Modality of Learning or Learning Modality:  Three modes of learning are identified - visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.  (Telling a young boy in the third grade to sit still, when he is a kinesthetic learning supresses learning.  Each child has a unique blend of learning modalities.) 

Notice of Intent:  This is a formal notice to a local Superintendent that is required by law.  This document is to be filed prior to August 1 of the current year.  After that date the notice may or may not be accepted without resistance and possible fine. 

Permanent Record:  A permanent record is generated for each student and this record is to travel with the student so that it is with them at the school in which they are enrolled.  This is a record of the student's work. 

Rules and Regulations:  The attorney for the DOE writes Rules and Regulations, which must be approved by the legislature.  Once those R&R's are approved they become law in Tennessee.  R&R are less important that the Constitution of the USA or of Tennessee.  They carry less weight in court that the laws of the USA or of Tennessee, but in the court R&R are consider law, but it cannot be in conflict with any higher or more important law. 

School:   I am working to develop an accurate definition of the word school.  Over the last 100 years the definition has significantly changed.

School at Home:  When the public schools began offering School at Home, it was described as being like homeschooling.  Actually, it is public school at home.  A child is physically safe, but the educational program is the same and the desired results are the same as for students in public school.  Parents have no say in their child's education for students in this program.  School at Home is not home schooling. 

Superintendent of Schools:  Each school district in Tennessee is lead by a local Superintendent.  Each county has at least one superintendent. 

Support Group:  Frequently families gather socially to enjoy time with other people who share their life experiences.  These meetings provide social connection, relaxation, and refreshment of the mind, soul, and spirit. 

Testing:  In school the process of evaluating a students current performance in an examination. 

  • End of Course Testing: This is an evaluation of a student's comprehension of a particular course, typically covering a full year of study
  • High School Proficiency Test: A Tennessee test evaluating students to see if their level of learning is sufficient to allow the to qualify for a high school diploma. 
  • Nationally Normed Standardized Achievement Test:  A test administered to students all over the country allowing the performance of each student to be compared with a large group of students.  Results can be statistically compared allowing "norming" of the results.  (Home educated students have never feared of taking this type of test, because the knowledge evaluated is general and not course specific, agenda specific, or outcome specific.) 

Transfer:  The process of changing enrollment of a student from one legal school to another legal school.  Typically, students who sign up in an umbrella program are not the ones to request the transfer.  The Umbrella school makes that request. 

Tutorial:  A setting where a particular subject is taught, ie Algebra, foriegn language, Chemistry, art, speech, etc.

Umbrella School:  This term was defined in the early days of home education 1985 by Betty Long, who was the first home school contact for the DOE.  The term refers to a church related school that enrolls home schoolers.  (For many this term caused confusion.  The DOE only defines home schoolers as those enrolling with their local superintendent, so someone calling the DOE and saying they wanted information about home schooling would only find out about enrolling with their local superintendent.)