Answers To Your Questions About End-Of-Year Homeschool Testing And Evaluations
Nothing is quite so stressful to a homeschool family as when the time for end-of-year testing and evaluations rolls around. You’ve worked hard all year, and now it’s time for your progress to be examined. To ease the stress during this time of year we need to change our mindset. Instead of looking at annual assessments as judging your child’s accomplishments throughout the year, think of them as a tool to gauge their progress and develop a plan for the upcoming year. These assessments will help you understand what your child has already learned and what they are ready to learn in the next school year.
You might be surprised to learn that there are several kinds of assessment tools available to you to help evaluate your child’s learning. And as a homeschooling parent, you have the freedom to choose which assessment option is most suitable for your child, within your state’s homeschool law requirements. Some of the most popular assessment options are standardized testing (timed or untimed), portfolios, and evaluators. For very young children assessments can be quite informal and consist only of checklists.
In Colorado, if you file an NOI with a school district, you have the option to do a national standardized test or an evaluation conducted by a “Qualified Individual” State law states a qualified individual is someone who is a teacher licensed under article 60.5 of this title, a teacher who is employed by an independent or parochial school, a licensed psychologist, or a person with a graduate degree in education.
A Closer Look At Standardized Testing
Some states require standardized testing every year, but some parents living in states that don’t require students to take a yearly test still opt to test their students. Standardized testing can be a useful tool for homeschoolers. It provides parents with an in-depth view of how their student’s academic progress compares to the national norm and shows any areas of weakness in their education. Yearly standardized tests also offer students great practice in test-taking to prepare them for taking college entrance exams.
Whether you will be testing to meet legal requirements or you’ve decided for your student to participate in standardized testing for your benefit, the next step is to determine how to go about testing. Again, you’ll need to refer to your state’s homeschool requirements, but many will have the option of testing through their local public school system, online testing, or testing through their state homeschool support group. You may also have the option of becoming a certified test proctor and administering the test to your students yourself in the comfort of your own home if you have a four-year college degree. Some tests can be given at home and administered by a parent or another relative. Don’t forget to see if there are any educational requirements for the person overseeing the test. Be sure to look into your testing options early in the year so you don’t miss the deadlines.
The Homeschool Portfolio
Some states offer the option of a portfolio review instead of standardized testing, with each state having its requirements as to what the portfolio should contain. In general, your child’s portfolio will contain samples of their work throughout the year in all the various subjects. The object of a portfolio is to give an overview of what your child has learned and show how much progress they’ve made during that school year. So it’s important to include samples of work and test results from the beginning, middle, and end of the year. Even if you’re not keeping a portfolio to fulfill your reporting requirements it can be a fun thing to do to keep as a treasured memento of your homeschooling years.
Choosing An Evaluator
If your state requires that your child’s portfolio be reviewed by an evaluator, find an evaluator you want to work with and schedule your review well in advance. If you need help finding an evaluator your local homeschool coop or state homeschool support group should have recommendations for you. If you wait until the last minute all of the evaluators in your area may be booked leaving you scrambling to find someone before your state’s deadline.
When choosing an evaluator there are several things to consider. First, you need to be sure that you choose someone who meets your state’s requirements. You will also want to be sure that they are familiar with your specific homeschool method or any special needs your child has. For example, an evaluator that knows nothing about unschooling would not be a good fit for an unschooling family. Next, you’ll want to consider location. Does the evaluator live near you or offer a meeting place near you for your evaluation? Do they offer an online option for those that live further away? Finally, there is cost. The cost of an evaluation can vary greatly among evaluators, so be sure to ask about their fees. Inquire of several evaluators in your area to be sure you find the best fit for both your family and your budget.
Since some states allow evaluators to set their standards as to what they want to see in your child’s portfolio it’s good to establish a working relationship with them early on. Talk with them and find out what they will be looking for to show that your child has made adequate progress throughout the year. Some may only want to look at test results while others may require a certain number of samples from each subject. If you use an online curriculum it may be as simple as providing them with a printout or for you to log in to your parent account so that they can view your child’s work.
Make it work for you, not against you!
Whether end-of-year homeschool assessments are required by your state or not, they shouldn’t be a source of stress. Use these tests and evaluations as tools to reassure yourself and your child and to make your homeschool even better by identifying and improving upon any areas of weakness.
Statheros Academy by My Homeschool Hub provides both Professional Evaluations and Parent Evaluations to Colorado families who enroll in our umbrella school (the parent evaluation is free of charge) and our Homeschool Advisor, Heather Fritz is a professional evaluator and meets Colorado state requirements. Our evaluations are done in the form of portfolio reviews.