ALSO visit us at EvaluationStation.Com View our power-point, "How to Prepare for a Portfolio Evaluation, without losing your mind!" Download our helpful "Homeschool Portfolio Checklist". Read client testimonies, find great resources, and be encouraged on our Laugh page! We do in-person and online portfolio evaluations, and give you feedback that can REALLY make your homeschooling more effective. Remember to tell us how you feel on our POLL at the bottom of THIS page before you go, and visit our ONLINE STORE!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Assessing Your Homeschool Year

     The only thing consistent about homeschooling is that it varies from one family to the next! And even within those families, it varies from one child to the next. Unlike public schools which generally provide education in the style of mass production and then assess everyone with the same standardized test, we homeschoolers have yet to find a test that is specifically designed around the way we teach or what we have taught.

     I often wonder why some of us pull our children out of public school, choose teaching methods and curriculum that is best suited to our children, and then try to measure them with a standardized test used by the very school system from which we pulled them out.

     We have been called out of the norm. Why then do we seek to be measured against its terms instead of our own? Why are we so afraid that our children won't measure up to a standard we didn't like in the first place? There are times when standardized testing has value and / or is necessary (i.e. the SAT, ACT, or CPT) in order to achieve certain goals such as entry into college or achieving a scholarship.  Eventually, nearly everyone is going to have to take one. But should that be the way we measure the success of our homeschooling? Homeschooling is so much more. Our assessment process has to allow for that.

    Just as we had to change our ideas about what "schooling" ought to be, we might also reconsider our assessment choices. We need assessment that fits into what WE are doing, not assessment that makes us fit into some preconceived mold. There are a lot of creative ways to assess a single assignment, so also are there many ways to express and demonstrate the progress of a student within a homeschool year.  The portfolio gives us many options and can really tell much more about a student's character, goals, strengths, and educational journey than one might be able to decipher with a standardized test.

     Although there are some elements that are legally required to be in a homeschool portfolio, there is also a lot of room for creativity. (If you'd like to know what those legally required elements are (for FL), view my power-point, "How to Prepare for a Portfolio Evaluation, without losing your mind!" at EvaluationStation.Org) A portfolio is a sampling of an entire year of homeschooling and can include photos and DVDs of projects, trips, and presentations. It will contain several work samples from each academic area, and may also have actual samples of projects. It can contain student logs of trips taken, books read, things learned. It has detailed information of the curriculum used and other supplementary reading that was enjoyed.

     Some portfolios are very business-like in their form and some take on the character of a treasured scrapbook. I personally enjoy those that fall somewhere in-between. As an evaluator, I really LOVE to review portfolios! I have met some amazing homeschooling families and have felt very proud of them after reviewing their portfolios. There are some dedicated people out there doing an excellent job of educating and raising their children. It makes me proud to be a homeschool mom.

     I'm sure many homeschoolers just feel more comfortable having their child take a standardized test at the end of their homeschool year. Choice is a large part of what makes homeschooling what it is. If you choose the testing option, I will caution you on three points:

     1. Remember, by (FL) law, everyone has to have a current portfolio (and keep it on hand for two years.) Whether or not you choose to use it to meet your end of the year evaluation requirement is up to you. Your portfolio needs to be produced within 15 days, if called for by the superintendent. It's a good idea to maintain it on a regular basis.

     2. IF you do choose to go with a standardized testing option, the HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association) advises that you still send into your public school county liaison only the simple letter ( the "Certificate of Review") from the certified teacher who administered the test which has the "magic words" the county needs to hear in order for you to continue homeschooling another year. The test scores you receive are for your benefit alone. Providing more information than needed sometimes encourages more control.

     3., Make sure the person administering the test is a certified teacher. If not, the test results will not be considered valid. You can check their validity of their certification by just putting in their name at:  I'm sure other states have similar sites.

     Whether you choose a standardized test, a portfolio eval, or one of the other allowable assessment options, I want to encourage you to allow yourself to sit back and conduct your own personal assessment of your homeschool year. Did your children learn? Were they excited about some of the things you put before them? Were they challenged... but not too much? Did you enjoy some memorable family times? Did you overcome some disappointments together? Make adjustments as you went along? Take the time to celebrate successes? Manage to accomplish most of your goals? Effective homeschoolers are constantly reassessing themselves and fine tuning their program. If you can feel reasonably satisfied with your answers to questions like these when assessing your homeschooling year, you should be very pleased indeed, and consider yourself a successful homeschooling family.  2 Timothy 2:15

Carleen Galiardo

Homeschool Mom
Certified Educational Evaluator


  1. really glad to meet you! mom of 3 boys homeschooling in florida too! we are on the gulf coast in sw florid. new follower! i'll be in touch - check out my blog if you get a chance!

  2. Great post! I often have wondered why a lot of homeschoolers say they homeschool because of public schools not being a fit for them and yet, they mimic the public school system. I'm definitely a new follower! This is our second year of homeschooling 5 children from Illinois.


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