Often when I read about homeschooling in other states I am reminded about how fortunate I am to live in NH, where homeschooling is very mildly regulated. While the state has virtually no control over what we teach or how we teach it, we are required to provide annual evidence of progress in one of two ways: a portfolio evaluation performed by a certified teacher; or standardized test results at 40th percentile or above. In the past, this evidence was submitted to the district for evaluation, and could then be used to determine the legitimacy of a home education program. As of last summer, this changed. While we’re still required to show evidence of progress, it no longer has to be submitted to anyone and it cannot be used to terminate a home education program.
I keep a portfolio of Lillia’s work, but I am not too keen on presenting it to someone to be “evaluated.” It feels like a situation where I would have to “explain” the why and how of everything, and I’m just not interested in doing that. I’m also not a huge fan of standardized testing, for many reasons, but just once in the spring seems okay to me (and Lillia actually likes taking the test, for some reason).
So, today was test day. Our district allowed us to take the test they use (the NWEA MAP Reading & Math). As usual, Lillia’s Reading scores were through the roof. Her overall Reading score was 232, which puts her in the 98th percentile for her grade, nationwide. I’m not going to mince words here — she is reading better (by quite a few points) than the average 11th grader. I’m actually a little overwhelmed by this knowledge, but not exactly surprised.
On the other hand, her Math score was 203 which is, literally, the national average and puts her in the 50th percentile for her grade. Last year, her percentile was much higher. I’m still trying to sort through this but the most obvious explanation is that we just started learning multiplication, whereas her peers have been studying it all year. As I’ve mentioned many times we are using the Life of Fred books, and I love them. I am not blaming Fred for the drop in her math score. The Fred books are doing something completely different than what the district is doing (not coincidentally, the district is preparing students for the test that my daughter just took). I chose to go back to the beginning of the Fred series, even though the work was easier, because there are a lot of concepts that Stanley Schmidt introduces in the early books that Lillia will need to know later on. I didn’t want her to miss anything. But, because of that, we are just now getting to the books dealing with multiplication…so Lillia is behind. I’m trying not to agonize over this because I think that what we are doing has value, above and beyond preparation for standardized testing, but it will be helpful when I’m planning what to do next year. Math never came easy for me, and it’s possible it won’t be easy for Lillia, either. On the other hand, it will be interesting to see her scores at the end of next year when we have finished the Life of Fred elementary series. My guess is that there will be a big improvement.
Here are Lillia’s actual test results: Lillia MAPs 2013 (the notes are the test administrator’s)
And, here is the entire text of the law that I referenced in this post:
193-A:6 Records; Evaluation. –
I. The parent shall maintain a portfolio of records and materials relative to the home education program. The portfolio shall consist of a log which designates by title the reading materials used, and also samples of writings, worksheets, workbooks, or creative materials used or developed by the child. Such portfolio shall be preserved by the parent for 2 years from the date of the ending of the instruction.
II. The parent shall provide for an annual educational evaluation in which is documented the child’s demonstration of educational progress at a level commensurate with the child’s age and ability. The child shall be deemed to have successfully completed his annual evaluation upon meeting the requirements of any one of the following:
(a) A certified teacher or a teacher currently teaching in a nonpublic school who is selected by the parent shall evaluate the child’s educational progress upon review of the portfolio and discussion with the parent or child;
(b) The child shall take any national student achievement test, administered by a person who meets the qualifications established by the provider or publisher of the test. Composite results at or above the fortieth percentile on such tests shall be deemed reasonable academic proficiency;
(c) The child shall take a state student assessment test used by the resident district. Composite results at or above the fortieth percentile on such state test shall be deemed reasonable academic proficiency; or
(d) The child shall be evaluated using any other valid measurement tool mutually agreed upon by the parent and the commissioner of education, resident district superintendent, or nonpublic school principal.
III. The parent shall maintain a copy of the evaluation. The results of the evaluation:
(a) May be used to demonstrate the child’s academic proficiency in order to participate in public school programs, and co-curricular activities which are defined as school district-sponsored and directed athletics, fine arts, and academic activities. Home educated students shall be subject to the same participation policy and eligibility conditions as apply to public school students.
(b) Shall not be used as a basis for termination of a home education program.
(c) Provides a basis for a constructive relationship between the parent and the evaluator, both working together in the best interest of the child.
Source. 1990, 279:3. 2006, 13:4, eff. May 12, 2006. 2012, 227:2, eff. June 16, 2012.