Advocates for Home Education in Massachusetts, Inc.

Methods of Evaluation

The Charles court recognized that certain factors may be considered by the superintendent or school committee in determining whether or not to approve a homeschool proposal. One of these factors is a form of periodic evaluation of the children to ensure educational progress and the attainment of minimum standards. Charles says that school officials and parents should agree on a method of evaluation that may include one of the following approaches: standardized testing, periodic progress report, or dated work samples. Home visits may not be required as a condition of approval.

Parents in Massachusetts who prefer testing can choose from a variety of standardized tests. Some are administered by parents (ex: California Achievement Test), some by school officials (ex: CTBS), and some by a third party (ex: Stanford).

Dated work samples mean just that: a few samples of work with dates on them. You do not have to compile an extensive portfolio with narration to submit to the school although you might like to keep such records for your own use.

Progress reports can double as your plan for the coming year if you include information about how current learning will be extended into the coming year, and what new areas will be added. While Charles does not specify that a homeschooling plan needs to be submitted annually, many towns expect annual plans. If you live in a town that stipulates your approval is valid for only one year, you might also add pertinent information such as length of homeschool year or qualifications of parents, along with the fact that you plan to submit one such report a year.

It is important to include in your education plan what form of evaluation you plan to use. That way if the school later asks you for a form of evaluation that you’d prefer not to use, you can refer them to your approved education plan in which you stated that you would submit your preferred evaluation, be it test scores, a progress report, or work samples.

Adding a line such as, An annual progress report/dated work sample/standardized test results (parents pick one) will be submitted upon request is a good idea if you aren’t sure whether or not they’ll ask for anything; if they don’t ask, you don’t need to submit anything. If you know your town consistently requires people to report, then it’s somewhat pointless to stipulate upon request since you know they’ll ask and it just creates more work for them.