An Alternative to Standardized Testing

All about evaluations

A homeschool evaluation is an alternative form of assessment that can be given in lieu of a test. 

Evaluations tend to be less stressful than standardized tests because they are much more informal (usually an interview style) and nothing is timed. They are extremely beneficial for young children, poor readers, and children with learning disabilities.

There is no set form or format for evaluations and every evaluator will have their own style. Before choosing an evaluator, be sure to ask a lot of questions to be confident that they understand your child and his or her needs.

Who can evaluate my child?

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. Evaluators may be found through family, friends, other homeschoolers, church, local homeschool newsletters, support groups, et cetera.

Is there a standard form or format for evaluations?

No. There are no forms to be filled out. Each evaluator has his or her own way of conducting an evaluation. It is usually done in an interview style with lots of questions to find out how much the student has retained from that school year. A report is written up stating the findings. It must include a statement that the child is or is not achieving an adequate level of educational growth and progress. Ask that the report be sent directly to you. After you have received it, you can forward it to the division superintendent or his designee.

How is an evaluation conducted?

As stated earlier, each evaluator has his or her own method of conducting an evaluation. They may wish to talk to the parent with or without the student being present, and then speak with the child, or they may not need to speak with the parent at all. They may want a formal portfolio to be presented, or they may just want to see a selection of the student’s work, or they may not request to see any of the child’s work from that year. The evaluator may use a lot of manipulatives or games. Each evaluator has a specific format to go by, so question potential evaluators on what they will be doing with your child.

When is the best time of year to have the evaluation done?

Schedule the evaluation when you feel confident that your child will do his or her best. Don’t schedule close to vacations or any other time you or the child may feel “pushed.” Remember that the evaluation must be sent to the school system by August 1. Be sure to allow enough time for the evaluator to write the report and send it to you so that you can turn it in on time.

How much should I expect to pay for an evaluation?

Costs will range from $0 to $300 depending on who is doing the evaluation, and what credentials they have. Expect to pay an experienced evaluator more than someone who is just starting to do evaluations. You may be able to barter for the evaluation, or there may be a friend who is willing to do it at no cost. Do not let cost be the only determining factor for which evaluator you choose. Most of the time, it is worth spending a bit more money to insure that your child will have a positive experience, than to save a few dollars and be disappointed with the experience.

How do science, geography, art, and other subjects factor in?

Since language arts and mathematics are the only two subjects that are required by law, most evaluators will not spend much, if any, time on other subjects. However, it can round out the evaluator’s picture of your school year if you mention what has been done above and beyond what the law requires.

Questions you should ask when selecting an evaluator:

• What are your credentials?

• What experience have you had in evaluations?

• Are you a homeschooler, and if not, what experience do you have with homeschoolers?

• For my particular situation, do you suggest that my child be tested individually, tested in a group, evaluated, or assessed using a portfolio?

• How will the evaluation be conducted?

• Where will the evaluation be conducted?

• May I be present during the evaluation?

• What do I need to have ready for you?

• What do I need to do to prepare my child for the evaluation?

• Do you need to see a portfolio or will their workbooks/notebooks be sufficient?

•· How much do you charge?

• Do you have experience with learning disabilities?

• How do you conduct an evaluation for a non-reader or a poor reader?

This is not by any means an exhaustive list, but it gives you a good start.