Thursday, May 31, 2007

We're done!

Well, I don't think we're done, but standardized testing is done, the portfolios have been reviewed (twice) and we have our very official-looking letter from the school district saying that we are done and that Primo has passed fourth grade and Secondo passed third grade and that's what matters, right? In case you're curious, this is what their letters actually say:

Dear Ms. Frodo-

This letter is to verify that upon review of the portfolio materials and home school evaluation, it is my opinion that [Primo/ Secondo] has met the requirements of a home schooling program and satisfactorily progressed to be promoted to the next level of education appropriate for your child.

[Superintendent of the Local School District]

We are moving out of the state at the end of next month. Although I will admit that the portfolio requirement did get me into the habit of collecting work samples, art samples and photos and putting them into a scrapbook (I am terrible at taking pictures much less printing them and putting them into albums that I could take out and prove that I took them), the state homeschooling requirements here are amazingly intrusive, and I will not miss them one bit. Here is what we have to file in a nutshell:

1. A notarized affidavit with the local school superintendent prior to beginning the home education program and by August 1st each year thereafter for each child who turns 8 within 2 weeks of the start of the district's school year through age 17. This affidavit must be accompanied by:
a. a list of educational objectives
b. proof of immunization or a religious exemption from immunizations
c. proof of health and medical services (including height and weight measurements, annual hearing check, a vision check, physical exams at the start of homeschooling as well as the beginning of grades 6 and 11, and dental exams at the start of homeschooling and when beginning grades 3 and 7).

2. Attendance of 180 days or 900 hours must be kept during the year

3. Proof that the following subjects were taught at the elementary level: English (including spelling, reading and writing), Arithmetic, US and PA History, Civics, Health and Physiology, Pys Ed, Music, Art, Geography, Science, Safety and Fire Prevention

4. Standardized tests must be given in grades 3, 5, and 8

5. A log "made contemporaneously with the instruction" listing all reading materials used (listed by title).

6. A portfolio which should include:
a. the log
b. the attendance record
c. a copy of the outside evaluator's evaluation report (see #6) when completed
d. samples of work in all required subjects
e. copies of standardized test scores in the years required

7. An evaluation of the child and the portfolio by either a licensed clinical or school psychologist, a certified teacher, or a non-public school teacher or administrator (with at least 2 years teaching experience); the evaluator cannot be the home school supervisor or the supervisor's spouse

8. Evaluation of the portfolio by the school district superintendent or his/ her appointed liaison.

Only a little intrusive, huh? If you read the actual law yourself, you will see that there is a lot of room for interpretation... which can be a blessing or a curse for the homeschool family. For example: How many samples of work are sufficient? What proof of medical care can the State require without violating HIPPA? What form should the log take? Does it have to be dated or can it be a simple list? How detailed does the written evaluation have to be? Why do we have to file educational objectives since we aren't required to follow them? (Not that I'm complaining. All teachers know that lesson plans written at the beginning of the school year without the mess of students and weather and life almost never work out in the classroom.)

To be fair, our school district's homeschool coordinator was wonderful. I have heard very few complaints about our school district's oversight of homeschoolers (unfortunately, many nearby school districts aren't as fortunate). They are very liberal in their interpretation of the law. Our homeschool coordinator actually called me after I picked up our portfolios from the district office this week to make sure she didn't miss our affidavit for next year (most homeschoolers file the affidavit for the following year with their portfolios so they don't have to make two trips to the office... and don't forget to file on time). She was very complimentary of our home school and was sorry to hear that we were leaving the state. I will probably keep-up the maintaining of the portfolio after we move so that I have a record of the kids' work if we decide to enroll our kids in a brick-and-mortar school in the future and as an annual scrapbook.

If you are interested how our new state handles homeschooling, here are their guidelines:

1. Parents must file a "certificate of enrollment" by Sept. 15th which states the names, address, and phone number of parents and children (ages 6-17) involved in the homeschool and a brief description of the type of education to be offered.

2. School must be in session the "number of days that each [home] school shall require for promotion from grade to grade."

That's it. No vague language that makes it difficult to comply. No potential HIPPA violations by requiring medical information. They simply want to know who and where you are so that your children won't be mistakenly declared truant. I can live with that.

As to my own standards (and Frodo's), they are much stricter than the school district's. The girls aren't exactly where I had hoped they would be in math. Everything else is on track. So even though the school district says we are done, the girls continue to work on math. School is much less formal and consistent right now since we are preparing to move, but the flash cards and math books come out fairly regularly. The kids were a little dismayed at first to see me packing a "school bag" so that we could continue school while we prepared to move, but they are fine with it now that they have experienced "moving school". The bag has math flash cards, math books, some math manipulatives, a pile of field guides, coloring books that cover the history and facts about our new state, atlases, and two novels each that the girls should have finished by the end of July. School will be back in full-swing beginning August 1st.

So, I guess we aren't "done." Just hibernating.

Give Me an A!

The Scripps National Spelling Bee Finals
will be broadcast tonight on ABC at 8pm EST.

Don't miss it!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

How well do you know your friends?

Would you bet your life on it? After spending every minute of the last two years living, working, and partying together, grad-school students Jay Burchell, Tyler Fog and Will Traveler depart on a cross-country road trip. But when an innocent prank at one of New York's oldest art museums coincides with the bombing of the iconic building, Jay and Tyler are blamed for the terrorist attack and realize that their "friend" Will may have been the one who framed them. Unable to find Will or any evidence that the Will Traveler they knew even existed, Jay and Tyler are forced to flee the city and go on the run.

This is the premise behind the new ABC show Traveler. Frodo and I caught the preview of the pilot a couple weeks ago, and we are hooked. The pilot re-airs tonight at 9pm (EST) on ABC followed by the first new episode at 10pm (EST). Click here or on the image above to find out more on ABC's website. (You can even watch the show there if you can't watch it tonight.)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Which Jane Austen heroine are you?

:: E L I N O R ::

You are Elinor Dashwood of Sense & Sensibility! You are practical, circumspect, and discreet. Though you are tremendously sensible and allow your head to rule, you have a deep, emotional side that few people often see.

I am Elinor Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!

What did he say?

Frodo called home during his lunch break today. "Don't forget that I'm leaving early to go to the dentist. Oh, and I'm going to stop at Goodwill on my way home to pee on my van."

Me: "What?! Pee on your van?"

Frodo: Long period of hysterical laughter, then, "No. EMPTY my van."

Me: "Oh, I was wondering why you were alerting me in advance to your insane behavior." (more hysterical laughter)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

8 Things About Me

I've been tagged by Heather at Stepping Heavenward. She was very kind in offering me an out from participating since we are in the middle of packing for a big move. However, as I am sure many of you have experienced, it is only precisely when you have tons of things to do that you suddenly find yourself wasting time with distractions that seem urgent at the time.

The rules (modified for the should-really-be-doing-something-else-like-sleeping-crowd):
List 8 facts/ habits about yourself. Above your list, post the meme rules. At the end of the post, list up to 8 people you are going to tag to participate (probably those whose blog addresses you can type in from memory at 2am). Go to those people's blogs and let them know you tagged them and refer them to your blog to read your list and the rules.

My list:
1. I am a sucker for Molly Ringwald movies (particular favorites are Betsy's Wedding and The Stand).

2. Frodo and I have had conversations composed entirely of movie quotes.

3. I love my fire engine red, eco-buster Suburban, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

4. I can remember nothing if deprived of to-do lists and post-it notes.

5. I read through the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder at least once a year.

6. We are moving at the end of June and have no idea where we are going to live once we get to our new town. (Any generous millionaires out there interested in buying a poor grad school family a house?)

7. My new favorite T.V. show is Traveler. (Like I need something else to distract me from packing.)

8. I want to be either Kathy Reichs or Dr. House when I grow up. (Good thing I shared this. I didn't know there was a new Reichs book coming out in August... now I know.)

Who I'm tagging:
Aduladi' & Co.
and the mama
Life is Like a Lunchbox
A Mountain Homeschool
Homeschooling the Doctorate

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


1. "Finish" the school year to state-mandated guidelines (still haven't met mine yet)... Check!

2. Set-up homeschooling backpack so we can continue basics while in moving mode... Check!

3. Hold first moving sale... Check!

4. Have girls' portfolios evaluated... Check!

5. Take 8 bags of clothes and one box of shoes and boots to the Salvation Army... Check!

6. Pass along 4 more bags of clothes to friends with kids who can use them... Check!

7. Drop portfolios off for school district review... Check!

8. Take all DVDs out of their boxes and put into DVD binders (thus freeing-up about 10 feet of shelf space)... Check!

9. Pack-up school room library, children's library, and adult library (about 1000 books)... Check!

10. Go to homeschool convention and buy even more books to pack... Check!

11. Post message on blog so my friends and family know that I am still alive... Check!