Can you believe we are already coming to the end of the official school year? While we homeschool year round we still have to do a homeschool evaluation every year. Homeschool evaluations can be intimidating if you don’t know what to expect. I wanted to take a few minutes and talk about the different homeschool evaluation options. I also wanted to share some of what you can expect.
What to Expect – Homeschool Evaluation
Homeschool evaluations can be intimidating. It’s a time when you take everything you have taught your children this year and have someone else evaluate whether or not they measure up. However, it doesn’t have to be intimidating. There are some ways to make it more bearable.
Some school districts require homeschool students to take part in standardized testing to verify where they are with their education. While this is not the rule in Florida I know that it can be very intimidating for those who are expected to follow it. The rules will vary based on the area. Make sure to ask what the rules are in your area as to whether you can do this through an independent party or through the schools.
You can also opt for standardized testing if you believe in it as a helpful tool. There are many options out there for standardized testing though they may cost a small fee.
If you are planning on standardized testing or are mandated to do so start preparing your child in advance. This can include timed assignments and more reading comprehension based work. Having your child work through some of the formats before going to the actual testing may make it less intimidating.
A portfolio evaluation is an evaluation of everything you have been working on through the school year. Generally, you will bring all work your child has completed throughout the entire school year and sit down with a certified teacher to evaluate their work. For this method, some teachers will not ask to speak with the child. This method will involve more record keeping from you.
If you are going to have a portfolio evaluation it may help to start a filing cabinet at the beginning of the year to keep everything organized.
Evaluation with a Teacher
In my district a sit-down evaluation with a teacher to show progress will work. For this method, you will bring a summary of what your child has learned this school year. I like to bring work from the beginning, middle, and end of the school year. The type of conversation they will have will depend greatly on the teacher you evaluate with. Some teachers will look at the standards for that age and have them complete some problems to show that they understand the concept. Other teachers will sit down and hold a conversation with the child about what they learned, read, and did during the school year.
Find a teacher that understands your child’s learning style and abilities. R has a serious struggle with timed work but can do incredibly well when there is no timer involved. I do her evaluations with a teacher who understands this and accommodates her needs.
Make sure that you have a conversation with the teacher beforehand to understand what will be expected of you.
5 Tips to Make the Most of Homeschool Evaluations
Speak to someone in advance
Homeschool evaluations are partially intimidating because they are new and unknown. Spend some time on the phone with the teacher or the person who will be doing the testing to find out what will be expected. This will help you to prepare your child and yourself for what is coming.
Do you need to bring pencils, projects, test scores, or reading lists? Find out in advance what the person doing your evaluation will need from you. This will help you to make the most of the experience and not feel frazzled.
Talk to Friends
Your homeschool friends may know the best person to work with for your evaluation. Make sure to talk to them before going into this blind. Your friends may be able to tell you how a certain person evaluates and if they are understanding of special needs.
Don’t wait until the last minute
Homeschool evaluations usually have a deadline. Don’t wait for the last minute to get your evaluation in. Evaluators will fill up fast and you may have a harder time getting your evaluation turned in on time.
Budget for the evaluation
Homeschool evaluations cost money in most districts. Find out in advance what is expected of you. It is important to set this money aside. You can also speak to teachers about bartering. Some will trade childcare on a teacher work day or another service for the evaluation. Just make sure you are offering the value that makes it an even trade.
My Biggest Tip
This testing does not define you. Whether your child soars through every subject or has shortcomings in certain areas, this testing does not define you. There may be areas where you need to work harder. There may be things that are learning gaps that need to be worked on. You may even walk out of there a smidge overwhelmed. This does not define you. Education is a long term process not a one year experience. You can fix the areas that need work and you are not a failure if your child needs more help or struggled with a certain concept.
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