The evaluation process involves us (you, your child and me) meeting for approximately one hour to go over the portfolio you have prepared for your child. By law I am required to perform two duties at the evaluation: Interview your child and review the portfolio to determine that an appropriate education has taken place. My interview consists of asking both the parent and the child about the high and low points of this past year as well as dreams and goals for next year. Some evaluators see this as a time to verbally test academic achievement. I do not. My goal is to assist families as they comply with the state, and to encourage them on this journey!
From the PA State Law: In order to demonstrate that appropriate education is occurring, the supervisor of the home education program shall provide and maintain on file the following documentation for each student enrolled in the home education program:
A portfolio of records and materials. The portfolio shall consist of a log, made contemporaneously with the instruction, which designates by title the reading materials used, samples of any writings, worksheets, workbooks or creative materials used or developed by the student and in grades three, five and eight results of nationally normed standardized achievement tests in reading/language arts and mathematics or the results of Statewide tests administered in these grade levels.
Just a few hints here:
The portfolio needs to do a basic job: Provide samples demonstrating student’s progress. Keep this in mind as you pull examples from the stacks of materials that your children produce. You also need to include the important paperwork like your log, your book list, standardized test results (if applicable) and a fire safety paper. Do not include items that you handed in at the beginning of the year. Health records, affidavit, objectives, etc. do not belong in the portfolio.
– Portfolio = Many use a 1, 2 or 3″ 3 ring binder with child’s name and year and contact information clearly marked on the cover. Include page dividers for the major subjects like:
– Log = include a simple calendar or list of total number of days of “education”…book days, worksheet days, field trip days, travel days, church days, special project days all “count” – You do not need to hand in your plan book – or planning pieces of paper- or teacher’s guides.
– Book List = the student’s ongoing list of curriculum and books read and/or media used for all subjects, assignments and leisure…just a list, no summaries, no dates, no authors necessary
– Standardized Test – only those in grades 3, 5 and 8 must include test results…any child may take the tests, results are only necessary for the three grades listed.
For Major subject areas below: Samples = samples demonstrating progress means samples, not stacks of workbooks…set aside beginning, middle and end of year examples for each of the major subject areas (or wait until the end of the year and gather appropriately). Evaluators need to verify that progress has been made. This is difficult with only 3 or 4 samples, yet 100 pages is too many. Find a meaningful balance which honestly represents the child’s educational journey.
- Bible (optional) – Sunday School papers, Bible reading lists, etc.
- Language Arts – original creative writing, reflective essays, daily journal entries, narrations, research reports, (handwritten samples are always nice to see as they are a “snapshot” of the child’s abilities for this year) (for older children, include the entire writing process from brainstorming and outlining to edited copies and final draft.) English/Spelling/Vocabulary worksheets, Handwriting practice pages; Reading – worksheets, tests, book reports (Keep all these as one section of your portfolio. There is no need to separate each subset within Language Arts.)
- Math – worksheets, tests, practice pages, etc.
- Science – lab sheets, coloring pages, notes, tests, drawings, nature journals, internet puzzle pages, etc.
- Social Studies – narrations, tests, worksheets, notes, time line, reports, Geography, Civics, History, Economics, World Cultures, etc.
- Misc – Fire Safety, Field Trips, Gym, Foreign Language, Computer (the study of Technology, not necessarily computer games), Health, 4-H, Scouts, Certificates of Participation, Community Service, Music and Arts. (These are not all required each year, except fire safety. Fire Safety is required every year. Your affidavit attests that you will include them in the elementary years…not everything every year!) Any type of paper trail is sufficient: simply write a summary of the event or practice (like bike riding or field trips), include a photo, a child’s drawing, highlight a brochure or program from a recital, etc.
Please do not stress about the portfolio or the evaluation! The portfolio ends up being a blessing seeing all that you and your child have accomplished this year!! And the evaluation is simply a time (required by law!) for me to make sure your “ducks are in a row” in order to finalize your school year!
I typically meet families at Calvary Church in Souderton or at Quakertown Library or Living Hope Community Church in Dublin, PA. An evaluation takes about one hour and I charge $50. 10% discount for multiples. We can schedule a time in May or June or whenever your school year is close to being finished. It is best to schedule your appointment early (February or March) so we know we can fit it in before the evaluation letter is due to the school district by June 30 each year.