Inside: Learn how to have a homeschool evaluation without stressing over it. Use my record keeping system to have your child do most of the record keeping for you!
Do you dread the words homeschool evaluation? Does the thought of one make your hands sweat? After all, if your child doesn’t do well, there’s no one else to blame but you. That’s scary.
There are a number of reasons you might fear these evaluations. It may be:
- This is your first year homeschooling and you have no idea what to expect.
- You have been doing standardized testing and are hesitant to try other routes your state allows because you don’t know how and they seem difficult.
- You have been using the portfolio method, but would really like to have your kids tested to see where they measure.
You don’t need to panic. Whatever your reason, I want to make this easy for you and give you confidence during the process.
Types of Homeschool Evaluations
In some states, an evaluation must be done each year, or every so many years, in order to continue homeschooling. If your state allows more than one type of evaluation, find out what they are and choose what works best for your family.
Each state’s requirements are different and that’s the first place you should begin. Know the laws and what is expected. Also, find out the dates for when everything needs to be done. The last thing you want to do is miss a deadline, and have the school board sending letters to your house. It puts you on their radar when it’s unnecessary, and it also makes homeschoolers look bad.
Standardized assessments, like the ones given in the school system, are one way a homeschool student can be evaluated. This doesn’t always mean your child has to go to the school to take the test. Often there are groups of homeschoolers from co-ops or organizations who have someone administer the test.
The person giving the test must be a certified teacher. She or he administers the test just like the public school and all score sheets are collected and turned in by that person.
Do I have to have my child tested?
Who can administer the test?
When are the tests given?
Is there a fee for testing?
Am I the only one that gets the results or do they go to the school board too?
Do kindergarteners need tested?
What if we only homeschooled for part of the year?
How can I prepare my kids for testing?
Should I use practice tests?
What do I do with the test results?
How do I read the results?
What happens if the results show my child did not make progress?
Can I change to a portfolio review even though I have done testing?
A portfolio review, my favorite method of evaluation, is a collection of samples from your student’s school work over the course of the year.
Two Types of Portfolio Reviews
Below, I list two possible ways to have a review done. Meeting the reviewer in person is the most common way, but there are times when it is difficult to find a reviewer in your area. If this is the case, you may need to find someone else who lives in a different part of the state and have a cyber portfolio review done.
In Person Portfolio Review
The parent(s) and a certified teacher get together to go over your child’s work. Some reviewers require the child to be present at the meeting and others do not.
The parent has the opportunity to show the student’s work and explain if accommodations were made how that was done. The teacher can answer questions and give suggestions if needed.
Cyber Portfolio Review
If you are not able to meet with someone in person or you can’t find a reviewer in your area, sometimes there is the option to have a cyber portfolio review done. This is where you take pictures of your child’s work and either send it through email or upload it to a folder that has been created for the two of you to share.
This type of review takes a little more work since you have the extra step of taking pictures and uploading or emailing samples. You also don’t have the ability to explain things as the reviewer goes over it.
If you have to go this route, it’s important you give a detailed explanation if any accommodations needed to be made for your child. This is especially important if your child is special needs. Let the teacher know this and what the disabilities are. As long as there is progress from the beginning of the year to the end, this shouldn’t be an issue.
You can get organized for your portfolio review by using my record keeping system.Once you set it up, you will have everything together by the end of the year with very little effort. In fact, your child can do most of the record keeping for you!
How is an evaluation conducted?
Who is allowed to evaluate my child?
What time of year should an evaluation be done?
Is there a cost for an evaluation, and if so, how much?
Is there a specific homeschool portfolio evaluation form needed?
Does the evaluator follow a certain format?
Am I required to include samples of work from subjects (such as Bible, art, music, etc.) that are not core subjects?
How many years have you been doing reviews?
Do you yourself homeschool?
How familiar are you with homeschooling?
If you have a special needs child: Do you have any experience evaluating children with special needs or learning disabilities?
How will the evaluation be done?
Where will you do the evaluation?
Can the parent(s) be present during the evaluation?
Does my child need to be at the evaluation? If so, how should I prepare him?
What samples do I need to have ready for you?
Do the samples need to be organized in a binder with labeled tabs or can I show you my child’s workbooks and notebooks?
How much do you charge for an evaluation? (This can vary by reviewer.)
How do you evaluate a child who isn’t reading yet or is a poor reader?
How long does a review usually take?
Will I get a writeup of my child’s progress at the end?
What suggestions do you have for my child for next year?
Do you turn the documentation in or do I need to?
You may have some additional questions, but this will give you a good place to start.
What Samples to Include in a Portfolio Review
It’s important to realize you don’t have to include every single assignment your child has done throughout the year.
When you look at the list below, these are suggested items to include, but you only need to choose samples. I always tell families to use work from the beginning, middle, and end of the year to give the reviewer a good idea of how much progress has been made during the school year.
The only areas that I would say you should include the entire year’s worth of work are marked with an *.
- Daily Schedule
- Curriculum List
- Daily worksheets (samples from the beginning, middle, and end of the year)
- Writing samples
- Reading log or Book list
- Field Trip list
- Extracurricular activities
- Pictures of science or history projects
- Printouts of assignments and/or grades from any online programs*
- Videos taken
- Lesson Plans (if required)*
- Attendance log (if required)*
- Number of hours for high school credits (if required)*
Here is a video showing how to put together a portfolio review in a binder.
Importance of a Portfolio
If you plan to homeschool through high school and choose standardized testing as an option, you need to know there are many colleges which require a homeschool portfolio in addition to tests and transcripts for the admission process.
This is a good reason to put together portfolios during the high school years even if you’re using testing for your evaluation. If you have been keeping good records, this will not be an issue.
Side note: There may be colleges which require your child to take the GED before they will admit him. I strongly discourage any parents from having their child take the GED or any other high school equivalency tests for college entrance. These label your child as a “drop out” or not smart enough to get a high school diploma.
This may be a college your child had his heart set on, but I would consider finding a different one. Your child has worked hard all these years and does not deserve to have all of that wiped out by taking the GED. There are plenty of other colleges out there who welcome homeschoolers and recognize their efforts.
To learn how I teach my children to become independent, keep records for me, and free up my time check out this 3-part series!
Grab my record keeping printables to help you get organized for a portfolio review!
Homeschool evaluations don’t have to be scary when you know what to expect. Many families choose to homeschool to get away from the testing mentality of the school system.
If your child is not a good test taker or you would prefer a method that allows you to showcase your child’s strengths and creativity, a portfolio review is the answer.
If your only option is standardized testing, I think you will find your child will most likely do just fine without making that the focus of your homeschool.
So relax! Wipe those sweaty hands, and enjoy teaching your children in a way they thrive. Don’t teach to a test. That is not the purpose of a home education!
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