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March 1, 2011 Legislative Update

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Testing Update

March 1, 2011

Greetings!

Testing time is approaching! Try not to be intimidated by the testing process–most homeschool students do very well. If you think your child may be an exception, give yourself enough time to retest or choose another method of evaluation if needed.

Use testing to your benefit and discover your child’s areas of weakness and strength. With this information, you can adjust your curriculum and teaching time to fit your child’s individual needs. Testing can be a great aid!

This update shares the basics of what the law requires regarding testing or evaluations. I’m including links to some additional resources to help you this testing season, as well as information about HEAV’s new informational webinar–Know the Law: Notifying and Testing Demystified–that is designed specifically to answer your questions about the law and testing requirements.

Remember, you don’t need to let testing intimidate you!

With warm regards,

Yvonne Bunn, Homeschool Support

Yvonne Bunn

Director of Homeschool Support & Legislative Affairs

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What does the law require?

If you homeschool under the homeschool statute, §22.1-254.1, you must provide evidence of academic progress. The results of an evaluation or assessment should be sent to your division superintendent by August 1 each year. Parents may use

  1. Any nationally normed standardized achievement test, or
  2. An evaluation or assessment, including, but not limited to,
    1. An evaluation letter from a person licensed to teach in any state, or a letter from a person with a master’s degree or higher in an academic discipline, or
    2. A report card or transcript from a community college or college, college distance-learning program, or home education correspondence school.

The first testing option–a nationally normed standardized achievement test–is used by many parents. If your student takes a standardized achievement test, he must have a composite score in or above the fourth stanine or 23 percentile. A composite score is made up only of the mathematics and language arts components of the test. Students are not required to take other sections of the test.

While most parents use standardized achievement tests, there are several reasons parents may want to show evidence of achievement by other methods. For some, an evaluation letter will more accurately show progress. An achievement test score may not correctly reflect a student’s progress. For others, such as a learning-disabled student, a score below the 23 percentile may show satisfactory progress. If a student is using a correspondence school, then a report card from the school is satisfactory. If a student is enrolled in a college or community college, or distance-learning program, a transcript will meet the evaluation requirement.

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Do kindergartners have to be tested?

Some kindergarten students will need to be tested and others will not. Age, not grade level, is the determining factor. Children who are NOT six by September 30 of the school year do NOT have to be tested. If a student is five years old on September 30 of the year he begins kindergarten, he will not have to be tested that year. However, if a student is six years old by September 30 of his kindergarten year, he will have to be tested. § 22.1-254.1 (C) states,

The [testing] requirements of subsection (C) shall not apply to children who are under the age of six as of September 30 of the school year.

Most homeschooling families will receive a form letter in the spring reminding them about testing. If your child is not six by September 30, the information in the form letter does not apply to your child.

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Are there other exceptions?

Yes. In general, homeschoolers must show evidence of progress if they have complied with §22.1-254.1 of the Virginia Code by filing a “Notice of Intent to Provide Home Instruction” or writing a letter to the school superintendent. However, evidence of progress is not required for the following:

  1. children who are under the age of six as of September 30 of the school year;
  2. students who are under the religious-exemption provision §22.1-254(B)(1);
  3. students being taught by a certified tutor §22.1-254 (A); or
  4. students who have graduated, regardless of age.

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What about portfolios?

The law describing evaluations and assessments does not mention a “portfolio.” However, in describing evaluation options, the law says, “including but not limited to” an evaluation letter, a report card, or a transcript. Although a portfolio is not included, some superintendents may be willing to accept this form of assessment because of this carefully worded language. Parents who have submitted an unevaluated portfolio in the past may still be able to submit one directly to the superintendent because the language does not limit what can be submitted.

Also, a portfolio could be presented to a qualified evaluator who is licensed to teach or a person with a master’s degree in an academic discipline. This person could review the portfolio and submit an evaluation letter to the superintendent to determine if the student is achieving an adequate level of educational growth and progress.

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MORE INFORMATION

Do you have more questions about testing such as these:

  • How can I prepare my child for testing?
  • Can I administer the test myself?
  • Who decides which test I can use?
  • Do I have to have my test pre-approved?
  • Where can I get tests?
  • How much will testing cost?
  • How do I interpret the results?

You can find the answers to these and many other questions in HEAV’s informative Testing FAQ.  

 

Testing Resources

You may also wish to check out our Choosing Standardized Tests and Testing Resources pages, along with tips for parents administering tests themselves and a list of counselors, testers, and tutors.

If you’re not sure what to expect or you’re uncertain about how your child may score on a standardized achievement test, Achieving Peak Performance is a great resource. This practice test can help both you and your student be ready and confident on testing day!New Webinar

New this year! For your convenience, you can watch several newly developed HEAV webinars via computer any time in your home! Know the Law: Notifying and Testing Demystified includes information about Virginia’s homeschool laws, as well as testing requirements.

This report was written by the Home Educators Association of Virginia, a member-supported, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting, protecting, and supporting homeschooling freedoms in the Commonwealth. Feel free to reprint or pass along this report in its entirety.

Home Educators Association of Virginia


e-mail: update@heav.org

phone: 804-278-9200

web: http://www.heav.org

Your membership and donations to HEAV enable us to continue monitoring legislation and help us to guard and promote homeschooling freedoms.

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Donate to HEAV now.

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