With the number of home-schooled students rising in Maine and nationally, about 800 people are expected to attend an annual three-day Maine home-schooling conference beginning Thursday in Rockport, an organizer said.

About 3 percent of Maine students were home-schooled in the 2014-15 school year, slightly lower than the 3.4 percent national average, but that number is growing. Maine had 5,561 home-schooled students that year, a 36 percent increase over a decade earlier, according to Maine Department of Education data. Nationally, the number of home-schooled children increased 55 percent from 2003 to 2013, the most recent data available.

“I think it’s growing everywhere,” said conference organizer Kathy Green of Homeschoolers of Maine, a self-described nonprofit ministry she founded with her husband, Ed Green, in 1990. Green said she home-schooled her four daughters, now grown, and has been involved in the home-school community for decades.

The 26th annual conference for Homeschoolers of Maine will feature speakers, workshops and an expo hall with vendors, she said.

Green said home schooling has become a “mainstream” option for families looking at their education choices.

“For every family, there’s a different set of reasons to home- school,” Green said.

To home-school a child in Maine, a parent must notify the state and their local school, and provide an annual assessment of the student’s work through a standardized test or a review of work by a certified Maine teacher. Home-schooled students must have the same number of school days as a student in a traditional school – 175 – and be taught specific subject areas including English, math, science, fine arts, health and at least a year of Maine studies. Because there are no state-mandated standards of achievement, the state does not issue transcripts or diplomas for home-schooled students.

Home-schooled students may go to their local schools for special education services, to enroll in certain classes and to take part in extra-curricular activities.

The conference will be held at the Samoset Resort from March 17-19. For event information, go to homeschoolsersofmaine.org.


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