FAQ – Testing and Evaluation

How will I know what my child is expected to accomplish for any given grade?

Various authorities, such as the Virginia Department of Education, E.D. Hirsch, or certain web sites offer their opinion on standards for each grade level. However, being the parent in charge of your child’s education, you have the luxury of tailoring the education to the child. Some parents–especially those new to homeschooling–prefer to use such standards as a guideline, while others choose to set standards based on their child’s unique attributes.

If we choose testing to show evidence of progress, what must my child score in order to show sufficient progress?

Adequate evidence of progress is recognized with a composite score of the 4th stanine or higher on any nationally normed standardized test. If you use a test that is not nationally normed, it will be at the superintendent’s discretion to determine what score is sufficient.

How early in the school year can I test my child?

A parent may test or have a child tested at any time during the school year.  Most families test in the spring or early summer in order to have results back in time to submit them by August 1st.

My child was 6 when we mailed the letter of intent to provide home instruction, but we listed him as being in kindergarten. Do I understand that because he is 6, he must be tested even though he is listed as being in kindergarten?

While you do not have to test him, you do have to provide “evidence of progress,” which may include the results of a standardized test, an independent assessment or a portfolio evaluation. Review your options under the law here.

Can I submit scores from the PSAT or SAT as my evidence of progress?

Yes, you may submit scores from any nationally normed standardized achievement test as evidence of progress.

My child is enrolled in a distance learning program. Can I submit a transcript for this term as evidence of progress?

Yes, you may submit a report card or transcript from a correspondence school, an online distance learning program, or a college, as evidence of progress, though it is at the superintendent’s discretion to determine if the program and grades are adequate.

I have a master’s degree. Can I write a letter of evaluation for my own child? Can I just write “I have a master’s degree and my child has made adequate progress” or does the letter need to be more substantial?

The law does not directly address whether a parent can write their own letter of evaluation. However, since this option is at the discretion of the superintendent, the superintendent would have the option of rejecting such a letter, regardless of the qualifications of the parent. Many superintendents strongly prefer independent evaluation.

As for what such a letter would contain, simply saying “I have a Master’s Degree and my child is making adequate progress” is not likely to be sufficient. Evaluation letters generally are lengthier and involve a discussion of how the evaluator has met with the child and reviewed their academic work, giving specific examples.

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