In other posts, we’ve discussed testing and assessment options. Depending on the legal requirements for homeschoolers in your state, you may choose to instead have your child evaluated, or have a portfolio evaluation.
Who might benefit from an evaluation? Young children, students who don’t read well or quickly yet, children with learning challenges, or children who are extremely overwhelmed emotionally by testing.
An evaluation is simply the assessment of your child’s progress by an educational professional—usually a certified teacher or other educational professional. (In some states, this can also be anyone with a master’s degree in an academic discipline; check your state’s law.) The evaluator can let you know ahead of time what criteria will be evaluated so you can be prepared. You will generally want to have a portfolio of your child’s work for them to evaluate, and your child will need to be available to sit and talk with the evaluator (possibly remotely by video, in this tech age!).
A few things to ask a potential evaluator:
- How much experience do you have with evaluations?
- What are your educational credentials?
- Do you have any references I may call?
- Do you have experience with homeschoolers? (Discern if she is “homeschool-friendly.”)
- What are your criteria for evaluation? What will you be looking for/at?
- What will you need from me/my child when you arrive (or we meet you)? (See Portfolio info, below)
- How long will our session be?
- What do you charge?
- How long will it take for me to receive your report?
- Will you include recommendations or suggestions for me?
- Do you have experience with students with special needs (if applicable)?
- Does my child have to be able to read (or read well?) for you to evaluate him?
- Have you worked with parents in my school district before, and have you had any concerns with acceptance of your evaluations by our superintendent?
Remember that the acceptance of the report may be at the discretion of the school superintendent, depending upon your state law. He will want to be assured that your child is making adequate progress in the requisite areas of language arts and math.
If you are having your child evaluated to comply with a state or other legal requirement, be aware of any requirements, restrictions, or specifics, and if any particular format is recommended.
Where do you find an evaluator?
- Your local homeschool group (or Facebook group) is often the best source of personal referrals; local families may know of an evaluator, or there may be a parent who offers services. You can find local groups here or at your state homeschool organization website.
- You may wish to check with your local private school for a teacher who does this “on the side.”
- Many state organizations keep a listing of tutors or other services in their area. You might check the state organization website or inquire at their Facebook page.
- Some universities and hospitals also have programs in which their graduate-level students and interns offer services at a discounted rate.
- Learning centers such as Learning Rx, Sylvan, and others can also be a help to you.
A portfolio is simply a scrapbook or collection of highlights of your child’s work for the year. In some states, it can be turned in independently (without professional evaluator report; with parental report) for assessment by the superintendent in lieu of standardized test scores. Many parents simply find it helpful record-keeping to compile a portfolio, even if only for personal use … or to share with the grandparents! (Here’s one mom’s example.)
A portfolio might include:
- Samples of your child’s work at various times during the year (presented chronologically to show progress)—requires advance planning!
- Scope/sequence of the curriculum used for language arts and math, in particular (When I used this option, I included a listing for all subjects, to show we provided a well-rounded program of study, but I included samples only of the required language arts and math work for the superintendent.)
- Photos of your child doing school work, on field trips, on sports teams, socializing with others, etc.
- List of field trips.
- List/description of extracurricular activities.
- Reading log.
- For younger child, you might include a tape of your child reading at various times during the year.
- List/description of projects and achievements.
- Anything else your evaluator feels may be helpful to review
You might include comments about each child’s progress. It is recommended that you not include the originals of any items, but make photocopies for the portfolio. You will want a receipt for the portfolio from the clerk who accepts it at the superintendent’s office.
(Some lesson planning books include spaces for all pertinent portfolio information. With work samples and photos added, this sort of plan book might be a simple method of portfolio preparation.)
Nothing in this post should be considered legal advice. Please consult HSLDA or your state organization for more information on your state’s homeschool requirements.