Monday, August 17, 2009

Homeschool Evaluations Continued

A question was asked on an earlier posting relating to Florida homeschool evaluations. 

Question: "How do I find an evaluator such as you described. One who understands homeschooling?"

Reply: Do a lot of phone calls and ask a lot of questions. If comments come up relating to such things as state standards, attendance record, immunizations; or it is implied that you must have things like pre-made lesson plans, test grades, and specific subjects taught at pre-determined grade levels - those are big clues that the teacher does not understand the Florida home education laws. 

But it even goes beyond this. There are several evaluation options available to you in Florida. Be sure you understand all of them. If you chose to use the option of a Florida certified teacher to evaluate your portfolio - also realize that there are various ways that is also interpreted. Ask details of how the evaluator conducts their review. (Remember it is a review of the portfolio, not a quizzing of the child.)  - Some means used that I have encountered are:

1. The 10 minute approach. The evaluator meets the child, looks over the portfolio, certifies progress and you are done. A variation of this entails mailing your portfolio to the evaluator and the child speaks with them briefly on the phone after the portfolio arrives to the evaluator. I am not implying this is necessarily a wrong way - but it gives little assistance and assurance to the parent, which is a service our clients expect from us. If this style meets your needs it does fit within the scope of Florida law. 

2. The evaluator meets with the child, reviews the portfolio, and then writes a detailed analysis of the year on the evaluation form - including strengths, weaknesses, and expectations for the following year. While many parents want us to give specific helps to them personally - we feel it is a detriment to all home schoolers for this approach to be utilized on official forms and gives false expectations to school officials. The law never states this is the job of the evaluator.

Before you make any phone calls to an evaluator have a list of questions you plan to ask. Their time is also valuable, so keep the list fairly short, but target areas that are important to you. Some of the best evaluators are also ones who home school their own children. Decide if it is important to you if the evaluator is male or female. Ask other home school parents what they do. Decide if cost is a factor to you - how much are you willing to pay? Decide if distance is significant for you (we have clients that drive up to 4 hours - one way - to come to us.) Sometimes the county office maintains a list of possible choices. There are also a number of internet home school  sites that keep a database of evaluator choices - even if they aren't local to you, call some of these to gather information and educate yourself as to how you want your child's evaluation done. 

And finally - I pray over all my education choices for my child. What is God's best for that child? Direct me to the person you want me to use - that can best help both my child and myself. 

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Meet the Husband.....and learn some American History too.

Go here for the story. On that page is a link to see the video - Yup, that is my Mister - Mr. History.