Evaluations and More
A good evaluator works for the parents, assisting them in meeting legal requirements and in supporting them when districts overstep their bounds."
Q: What is a portfolio review?
A: Florida home education law gives parents 5 options for their child’s annual evaluation. While many people think of a test...
when they see the word “evaluation,” the annual evaluation does not have to be a test. Instead, it can be a portfolio review.Under Florida law, parents of home education students are supposed to keep a portfolio, or a set of records, which should include:
1. A log of educational activities (This could be a lesson plan book, or table of contents pages with check marks or dates by the parts done, or student score reports from an online program, or a calendar with brief notes, or a blog or diary, or a schedule showing the sorts of educational activities typically done, or anything else that works for your type of homeschooling. Suggestion: Label it “log of educational activities.”)
2. Titles of reading materials (These could be titles of textbooks, workbooks, websites, or other educational materials. They could be titles of materials that were assigned to the child or that the child picked. They could be titles of articles, magazines, library books, websites, or any other type of reading material. The law doesn’t specify what sorts of reading materials count, so list what works for you. This list could be included in the log of educational activities, but many people keep a separate list.)
3. Samples of work (These could be worksheets or pages showing the child’s work, but they could also be copies of work used by the child. So photocopies or photos or screenshots of pages the child read or studied will also work. Photos of the child working on projects can also work here. Samples is plural so there must be at least 2 samples. Generally, it is advisable to keep at least a few samples from the beginning of the year and a few from the end of the year so that educational progress may more easily be seen.)
A portfolio review means that a person whom the parent chooses who has valid, regular (i.e., not temporary) Florida certification in some academic area between kindergarten and 12th grade (though the certification area doesn’t have to match with the work the evaluator is reviewing--in other words, a first grade teacher may evaluate the work of a 12th grader or a high school science teacher may evaluate the work of a kindergartner) will look through the portfolio. The evaluator is looking for evidence of educational progress commensurate with ability. This means that the evaluator isn’t testing the child. Nor is the evaluator using Common Core or other grade level standards to judge the child. Instead, the evaluator should be judging the child’s work at the end of the year against the child’s work at the beginning of the year. As long as the child has been doing educational activities and gradually doing more advanced work, the child should have no difficulty passing the portfolio review evaluation.
Florida law does require the child to be included in the evaluation. The child is supposed to be included in the discussion of the child’s progress. This doesn’t mean the child will be quizzed, but it means that the child will get a chance to hear what is said about his (or her) progress and will be able to add comments to the discussion if desired.
Portfolio review evaluations may even be done using Skype or FaceTime, or a combination of email with a phone call. This means that the child can remain in his comfort zone even if the evaluator is far away.
I charge $40 to evaluate one child and $10 more for each additional child evaluated at the same time (so $50 for two children, $60 for three, etc.). There’s a $10 discount if you come to me in person (so $30 for one child, $40 for two, etc.)
Please let me know if you have any further questions about the portfolio review evaluation process.
Cheryl Trzasko (homeschooling parent, former homeschooled child (for part of her elementary years), and evaluator who’s been doing FL portfolio reviews for well over a decade)
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