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.


mimi.rothschild said...

Thanks for sharing your experience with homeschooling. You may be interested in reading some more articles about the benefits of homeschooling. All the best!

Mimi Rothschild

Heather_in_WI said...

Hey lady!

I saw your post on TWTM board today. I vote for House #2 for the reasons that PariSarah gave. :-)

I came over to share this link: because of the posts a few months back. It was linked on this blog:

Food for thought. :-) (Which is *not* what you probably need right now, LOL!)


Jules said...

Wow, that is very intrusive. I don't have to give our public school that much information. (Height, weight, proof they see a doctor or a dentist...)

Terrill said...

I am so grateful that I don't live in PA. :-) Good Luck on the move--- I am still in the middle of one and it isn't any fun.

I am in an "easy" state now too. I like the states where they don't require anything because then all of my focus can be on schooling and I don't have to put time into compiling info for others.

Congrats on the end of your school year!

Snoskred said...

Hi, it's Snoskred here. I've recently become a blogging chick and have set myself a challenge to comment on as many Blogging Chick blogs as I can. So that's why I'm here. ;)

Sounds like it's a busy time for you all, I hope the move to the new state goes well - and the maths lessons! Have a fantastic summer. :)


Nan said...

Cripes! That is *incredibly* intrusive! I can't imagine that. I would find it so overbearing I have a feeling I would probably just decide to move.

Best wishes with your move!