Evaluation or Assessment
Option (ii) of the Home Instruction Statute (§22.1-254.1 C) provides an alternative method of meeting the evidence of progress requirement. Alternative methods which have been accepted under option (ii) in the past include:
- Written evaluations stating that the child has made evidence of progress this past year
- Report cards or transcripts from correspondence schools, distance learning programs, or colleges
- The results of a standardized achievement test (e.g., the PSAT, SAT, and ACT)
Under option (ii), Superintendents have discretion over what they will accept.
Superintendents are required to consider letters, report cards, and transcripts as valid forms of proof of progress. However, the superintendent still has the right to determine if what you have submitted constitutes adequate proof of progress. You may wish to contact experienced local homeschoolers to determine what is commonly accepted in your school division. See Virginia Homeschool Groups for a list of statewide and local homeschool groups.
Option (ii) requires the superintendent to make a determination, based on the evaluation, that the child is achieving an “adequate level of educational growth and progress.” While this determination is subjective, most superintendents are fair and reasonable.
There are no “state-approved” evaluators or requirements for evaluators. Any person who has a valid teacher’s license from any state or a master’s degree or higher in an academic discipline may write a letter of evaluation. However, the superintendent still has the right to determine whether the evaluation letter constitutes adequate proof of progress.
For more information on choosing an evaluator, see Choosing an Evaluator.
Evaluations vary depending on the evaluator. Some include testing, some use portfolios, and others may use a combination. Most include an interview (or conversation) with the student. The evaluator will write a letter attesting to the “educational progress” of your child. Most evaluators are looking for what your child has accomplished rather than what they have not done. They recognize that an education extends beyond the workbooks.
The law does not define what subjects should be covered in the evidence of progress; however, some nationally normed standardized tests cover only math and language arts and as those tests are acceptable under option (i), they may be the only subjects required.
As a result, most school divisions have come to request evidence of progress in only these two subject areas regardless of whether you choose option (i) or (ii). Since subjects are not specified in the law, superintendents could ask for evidence in other subject areas if you choose option (ii).
You may wish to contact experienced local homeschoolers to determine what is commonly accepted in your school division.
There is no minimum or maximum length for a letter of evaluation. Whatever is submitted has to be sufficient for the superintendent to make a judgment. We recommend that the letter of evaluation include a copy of the credentials of the person doing the evaluating, verification that the evaluator has actually met with the child and/or reviewed their work, and information that indicates that the child is achieving an adequate level of educational growth and progress.
You are not required by law to teach to the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs), nor are you required to reference the SOLs in an evaluation. Some professional evaluators believe that letters which reference the SOLs are more likely to be accepted by school divisions; other evaluators choose not to mention them in their letters. Before hiring an evaluator, talk to him or her about what role the SOLs play in their assessments and how that might affect your family.
Many option (ii) filers choose to create portfolios of their child’s work. In the past, portfolios could be submitted directly to the school division; it is no longer part of the home instruction code. Now, parents can share the portfolios with an independent evaluator as part of the evaluation process.
Portfolios can be very simple or as elaborate as you choose. It does not have to be a daily record. It should include examples from the beginning, middle, and end of the year.
Possible items to include:
- Book lists – include title, author, date read
- Brochures, tickets, pamphlets from theatre shows, museums, festivals, concerts, historic sites (have students write or dictate reviews or impressions of the event)
- Pictures – include commentaries written or dictated by the child – they are great conversation starters for the evaluation. Include pictures of: LEGO® bricks, cooking, lemonade stand, experiments, field trips, art projects, working on the car, presentations, performances, woodworking, volunteering
- Writing samples – including samples of creative writing, poetry, letters, emails, ads, reports, cards, shopping lists
- Lists of computer software used
- Lists of videos watched
- Whatever else the evaluator requests
Make copies of everything and keep the originals.
It is easiest to create a portfolio if organized at least monthly but as long as you have samples from throughout the year it can be done all at once.
- Have a box, file folders, or designated location to keep materials (flyers, worksheets, etc.)
- Date each page
- Use three-ring binders with page protectors to keep information orderly and protected over time
- Use dividers to create sections for each subject
- If using digital pictures, create digital pages with commentary
- Have students help assemble the book
- If desired, use colorful paper, borders, corner punches, or stickers to create a scrapbook
- Have student review their portfolio prior to the evaluation so they will be comfortable discussing the contents
This information is provided as a courtesy of The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers. It is not intended as legal advice. For legal advice, contact a licensed attorney.
VaHomeschoolers is a non-profit public charity with 501(c)(3) status; your donation is tax-deductible to the extent provided by law.