According to PA homeschooling regulations, all home schooled children must put together a portfolio and be evaluated for "progress in the overall program" every year. In order to be evaluated, you need an evaluator. We found our evaluator through a friend of a friend. I had a quick phone conversation with our evaluator when we first decided to break from the cyber school. Since then, I sent her a question or two via email. She seemed to share my attitude towards education, so I felt very comfortable with her from the start.
Because JT is considered a 5th grader this year, part of the homeschooling regulations require that he undergo standardized testing. In Pennsylvania, 3rd, 5th and 8th graders must do this when homeschooling. Parents can choose from a list of tests. They can be administered by just about anyone, except the child's own parents. It's even okay for siblings to do the job! Our evaluator offers testing services for a very reasonable fee, so we chose that route. Monday was JT's testing day.
When we first arrived at her home, EM was carrying a Far Side book under his arm. She immediately noticed it and said, "Wonderful choice of reading material!" That was when we knew she was perfect for us!
I had received a letter from our school district about a month ago, laying out my responsibilities in the homeschooling process. Since I was already familiar with homeschooling regs, I felt that some of their statements weren't quite on the money. I showed the letter to the evaluator. She asked if she could write on the letter. After I gave her permission, she proceeded to cross off their incorrect statements and add references to the homeschooling regulations in the margins. She even corrected the grammar in the letter. My kind of woman!
Testing was a smooth process. JT did a wonderful job. Our evaluator uses the Woodcock Johnson Achievement test. I prefer the out of level testing to the typical PSSAs given in our state. When you have a child that consistently works above grade level...on level tests tell you nothing about their progress. With this test, I was able to see where his strengths and relative weaknesses lie.
I am looking forward to working with our evaluator in the future. When the end of the year comes, the boys will each have an interview time with her. She told me that she likes the portfolio review to be a time where she can ask the mom about the child's progress and allow the child to hear praise for themselves from their parent. She's not worried about the minute details of our day to day lives. She wants to know what they love about learning, what they found most exciting about their year and what a great student they have been. No need for letter grades here...just praise and encouragement for our learning adventure.