Josh Powell was fourteen years old when he realized he was falling behind academically. Homeschooled under Virginia’s religious exemption statute, Powell had never seen the inside of a classroom, taken a standardized test, or had his work reviewed by a licensed teacher. Neither the state nor the local school board imposed any requirements on his parents’ homeschool program, and no professional educator had ever approved his parents’ curriculum. His parents were free to ignore subjects—such as math and science—as they saw fit, did not have to provide a minimum number of instructional hours, and did not need to demonstrate proficiency in any subject matter before they could teach it. In fact, they did not even have to show possession of a high school diploma or its equivalent. . . .