Monday, May 9, 2011

Evaluation Time of Year

In my state of New Hampshire we are required by law to submit yearly evaluations for each grade.  This can be a daunting process and many parents that I know get a bit stressed over it.  I have a few tips that have worked well for us over the years that I'd like to share.

What kind of test is best for your child?  Or should you even test at all?  New Hampshire has a choice.  You may test your child with a standardized test or you may have a portfolio evaluation.  The standardized test is fairly straight forward.  There are several, and I have to admit I don't know them all.  Some of these tests are the CAT  (California Achievement Test from 1970) Stanford, Iowa, and the PASS test.  All but the PASS  tests are timed tests and most, not the PASS or CAT, must be administered by a certified teacher.  I have opted to use the PASS and CAT tests for my children over the years because I can administer them myself at home.  I believe children will test better in their normal environment.  The PASS test only tests grades 3-8.  The CAT tests all grades and is timed.  When my children reached fourth grade I began to use the PASS test because I felt it would be much less stressful on them and they could work at their own pace.  This test covers math, reading and language.  The testing takes us three days, because we do one test each day.  So I set a week aside for testing in late April or early May.  After eighth grade we use the timed CAT test.  By high school they all know what to expect with testing and are less worried about being timed.  They actually have  liked being timed and think it's fun by this point.  I like using these tests because there is no need to use a certified teacher at all.  You simply submit a copy of your child's scores to your filing agent.  I use a private Christian school for my filing.

What about portfolios?  When and why do you choose them instead of a standardized test?  Well, I chose to use them when my children were younger than fourth grade for several reasons.  First, they are much less stressful on the child and are less stressful on the parents if the test scores aren't very high.  Some children just don't test well and that's okay.  I found maturity had a lot to do with that.  Second, it is fun to keep portfolios in the elementary years.  That Solar System project that your child spent weeks putting together, or the atoms that your child proudly constructed, or the pioneer costume that you made and visited an "Olde Village" as a field trip or family vacation all become part of the portfolio.  The reports on states and presidents and well on and on I could go.  Anything that you do over the school year can all be photographed and put into a portfolio along with all the spelling, writing and math papers. Scrap booking can even come in handy here.  All of those things are saved anyway so why not put together a fabulous portfolio of your fun year and show a certified teacher?   She or he, will be very impressed I guarantee!  I found some homeschooling moms who were certified teachers to evaluate our portfolios, they charge a minimal fee because they pay to stay certified themselves.  It's worth it!  Once the teacher reviews the portfolio, she will fill out an evaluation form, give it to you, and then you are responsible for submitting it to your filing agent.

I hope this little insight on evaluations has helped to keep you from worrying.  I don't know what other states require but you can contact HSLDA and they will provide each state's requirements.  If you are just starting out I wish you the best.  If you have been doing this awhile, I hope you are having a blessed end of the school year.
Enjoy homeschooling!


  1. That was very helpful Jen. You helped me with this very topic last year.

  2. Wow, I like the options your state gives for homeschooling review. My state does portfolio reviews only, either through the state by its designee or through a registered churc's school. It's amazing how different the laws are from state to state.

  3. Our state is in the process of making the homeschooling laws even better. This is very exciting. I hope the new law will be passed!