According to § 22.1-254.1(C) of the Virginia Code, parents may use
- Any nationally normed standardized achievement test, OR
- An evaluation or assessment, including, but not limited to,
- 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
- A report card or transcript from a community college or college, college distance-learning program, or home education correspondence school.
The first testing option listed above–a nationally normed standardized achievement test–is used by the majority of parents. Your student may take ANY standardized achievement test; it’s your choice. He must have a composite score in or above the fourth stanine or 23 percentile in order for home education to continue the following year. 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 even though they are in the test booklet.
Other evaluation options include a report card from a student who is enrolled in a correspondence school. If a student is enrolled in a college or community college, or distance-learning program, a transcript will meet the evaluation requirement.
- Children who are under the age of six as of September 30 of the school year;
- Students who are under the religious-exemption provision §22.1-254(B)(1);
- Students being taught by a certified tutor §22.1-254 (A);
- Students who have graduated, regardless of age; or
- Students who are 18 years of age and are no longer under compulsory education laws.
For option (i) only the composite score for language arts and mathematics (the basic battery) must be submitted. This also includes all sub-tests for language arts and mathematics. Science and history test sections are not required even though they are in the test booklet. The student’s composite score must be in the fourth stanine or higher (23rd percentile) in order to continue homeschooling.
Under option (ii), parents may submit an independent evaluation to the division superintendent. If an independent evaluation or assessment is chosen, the evaluation letter must be completed by a person licensed to teach in any state, or a person with a master’s degree or higher in an academic discipline who has knowledge of the child’s academic progress. It must clearly state that the child is achieving an adequate level of educational growth and progress to continue homeschooling the following year.
In some cases, a parent has been known to submit the portfolio itself to the superintendent for his evaluation. This is not the recommended method; acceptance varies from district to district. However, some parents who have submitted an unevaluated portfolio to the superintendent in the past may still be able to do so because of the relationship they have developed with the superintendent.
If a student is five years old on Sept. 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. Some kindergarten students will need to be tested and others will not. Age, not grade level, is the determining factor.
Most homeschooling families will receive a form letter in the spring reminding them about testing. The information in the form letter does not apply to your child if your child is not six by September 30.
Test administrator requirements are set by individual test publishers or distributors. Some tests must be administered by a “qualified administrator” while others may be given by a parent who can read the test and follow testing ethics. There are qualified homeschool parents who can test your child in your own home. Check with your support group for local test administrators. Parents who want to have a test administered privately in their home or those who decide to test with a group of homeschooled children can expect to pay for the test, as well as to pay a fee for the test administrator.
The law contains no specific requirements for test administrators or evaluators. However, parents are responsible for adhering to the test provider’s standards and instructions. This may include a requirement that the test be administered by a person other than the parent or by a person with a college degree.
The law does not require that test administrators or evaluators be approved in advance by the local division superintendent.
If your child does not meet the minimum composite test score of 23rd percentile you have two options:
• You may send in the low scores and possibly be put on probation for the next school year. At the discretion of the division superintendent, the parent may have to file a remediation plan for one additional year of homeschooling. The parent must also show that he or she is able to provide an adequate education for the child. Both the remedial plan and evidence of providing an adequate education must be approved by the division superintendent. In order to continue homeschooling, the child must meet the minimum score of 23 percentile the following year. If he does not meet this minimum score, you may be required to register your child in a formal school setting (not necessarily a public school).
• Another alternative is to have the student re-tested with a different standardized test, or have an evaluation done. If the student is tested by the end of May, there is usually sufficient time to make this kind of decision should it be necessary. If you wait past late May to test, results may not be returned to you until late July. This gives you little time for other options and puts you in a time crunch to get results to the division superintendent by the due date. The results of this second form of assessment may be sent to the division superintendent.
Still more questions about testing?
View more questions and answers from “Homeschool Q&A,” the popular feature in HEAV’s weekly e-newsletter, the Virginia Homeschool Update.
Note: Occasionally, local school administrators devise policies that ignore the provisions in the law. HEAV suggests parents submit all evaluations in a timely fashion, know the law, and contact support-group leaders who are familiar with local policies. Seek legal counsel if necessary.