Q. In my notice of intent last August, I placed my child in the eighth grade. I’d like to change that now and give him the seventh-grade, end-year test. I would then place him in eighth grade next year. Will I have any trouble with the superintendent about holding him back a year?
A. It is the homeschooling parents’ decision to withhold or advance their child, but it’s a serious educational decision. If you’re concerned your child will not do well on an achievement test, give the test early enough to get the results and have time to either re-test or have an evaluation done. The test results may be higher than you expect.
If you decide to repeat the same level test, the law requires submission of test scores no later than August 1 each year. It does not require comment or any other explanation. The superintendent may not notice that the test is for the same grade level. In this situation, you would continue homeschooling at the level you choose.
However, if he compares it to last year’s test and sees that it is the same level, he may contact you for an explanation. At that point, you would need to explain the reason you retained your child. Although repeating a grade is not the superintendent’s decision and does not require his prior approval, it does show a lack of progress, which may create concern and raise questions. Be prepared to answer questions such as the following: 1) Did you teach the material? 2) Did the student refuse to do the work? 3) Was the student unable to do the work? 4) Have you tested your child for learning problems?
Because progress has not been made, there is a possibility the superintendent may want to place your homeschool on probation for one year. This would result in greater oversight–potential meetings with the superintendent, perhaps more extensive curriculum plans, and possibly creating a remediation plan. A superintendent has the authority to make this decision.
Instead of repeating the same level test, another option would be to provide an evaluation letter. An evaluation provides evidence of progress in a different format. There would be no comparison to the test she took last year. An evaluator (a certified teacher or person with a master’s degree or higher) could review samples of the student’s work or provide a criterion-referenced test. This is a test the tester develops based on the work the student has completed. The evaluator would write a letter, give it to you, and you would mail it to the superintendent’s office certified, return receipt.