Guest post by: Lauren Snider
It’s the time of year to start thinking about homeschool evaluations! If you have never completed a homeschool evaluation before, the idea can be daunting. But, the process is actually much simpler than you might expect. Our friend and homeschool evaluator, Lauren, took the time to lay out the top ten most frequently asked questions about homeschool evaluations to put your mind at ease.
Homeschool Evaluations FAQ: Top Ten List
If you are a family that is new to homeschooling, you probably have a lot of questions. As a elementary homeschool evaluator in Pennsylvania (that means I can evaluate for students that are in kindergarten thru sixth grade), I get a lot questions about about homeschooling and specifically the end of the year evaluation. Read on to see the answers to some of the most often asked evaluation questions.
“When should I plan to do my evaluation?”
Your evaluation form needs to be turned in to your local school district by June 30th. If you have finished your 900 hours or 180 days of school by the end of April, schedule your evaluation and get it done! It makes your life so much easier to get it out of the way. Typically, the first evaluations take place in late April. From there, they slowly trickle in until the third week of May. From the third week of May until the third week of June, my schedule is usually packed with evaluations. Every year, I have at least a handful of families that need to get their evaluation done the last week of June. These families often drive from my house directly to the school to make sure the form gets there on time.
“Besides you, who else will see my portfolio?”
As of now, 2018, no one besides the evaluator will see your portfolio. About 5 years ago the law changed so that the school districts no longer required portfolios to be turned in with your evaluation form.
“How fancy should my portfolio be?”
This just depends on your family. I have received portfolios in large 3 inch binders that are typed and have page protectors on every page. I have also received portfolios that are loose pieces of paper in a folder that are hand written. There is no “fanciness” requirement, so do what works for your family, as long as you meet all of the requirements.
“What are the requirements again?”
I’m so glad you asked!!! I answer this question a LOT!! As of 2018, the portfolio requirements are:
*A calendar that shows your 180 days or 900 hours of school
*A book log that shows all of the books that you have read this year
*Samples of the student’s work
*Standardized test results (only if the student is in 3rd, 5th, or 8th grade)
“How long will the evaluation take?”
I can typically do an evaluation in about 10 minutes. However, I do my best to leave about 30 minutes for each family that I see.
“My child is nervous about the evaluation. Is there anything that I can do to prepare him/her?”
I really like to keep evaluations light and easy. I have been told that some parents felt like other evaluators were “out to get them”. I am not out to get anyone! When I ask questions, it’s typically out of interest! I find out about so many amazing programs by doing evaluations. I do ask the kids a few questions though. I like to ask them what books they enjoyed reading from their reading list. I will also try to pick out something from their work samples or something that seems to be more predominant in their portfolio and ask them a question about it.
Then, after I look through everything, I like to ask the child, “Is there anything else that you’ve worked on this year that you are especially excited or proud to share? I’d love to hear about it!” I look at this evaluation as a “reverse open house”. So, if the child has something to share, I want to give them the chance to do it and I give them my full attention.
“…for the standardized test, how do…”
Information on the standardized tests can be found on the Pennsylvania Department of Education website. Please check the site to get the most update information. Also, try to plan ahead for testing. Some parents seem to feel overwhelmed by the thoughts of standardized tests, so give yourself some time to choose the test that works for your family or opt out.
“Are you unschooler friendly?”
I get asked this often. I think I am! I understand that unschoolers may not have all of the book work that others do, but I know that they have something to show for their time. It could be projects, pictures, drawings, etc. Thankfully, I have yet to find anyone that was not totally comfortable signing off on.
“How did you become an evaluator?”
I am a PA certified elementary education K-6 teacher. Additionally, I have 2 years of classroom experience grading in the recommended subjects. Those are the most important parts of qualifying to be an evaluator. To “become” an evaluator, I just visited another evaluator and watched what she did. No, there is no special class that evaluators go to. I decided to do this as a way to connect with other homeschool families well before we formally started homeschooling. I have learned that there are so many homeschool opportunities out there and this is a great way to learn about them.
“I did the evaluation. Now what?”
June 30th is the deadline to turn your evaluation form into your school district. You can send it in the mail or hand deliver it. It is recommended that you send it certified mail if you don’t hand deliver your form. You may also want to consider making a copy of your form in case it gets lost or damaged.
To learn more about homeschool evaluations in Pennsylvania, please see this video.
Organize your Homeschool Year
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lauren is wife to her high school sweetheart and mom to Matthew and Chloe. Lauren is a former classroom teacher that now homeschools her children. You can learn more about Lauren on her blog at www.weddedmommybliss.com. Her creations can be found at on her Teachers Pay Teachers site as well: Wedded Mommy Bliss.