From the HSLDA E-lert Service:


4/8/2010 2:55:01 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
HSLDA's Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner Newsletter--April 2010

HSLDA's Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner Newsletter
April 2010--Creating a Homeschooling Portfolio

Creating a Homeschooling Portfolio:
A Great Alternative Assessment Option

By Faith Berens, M.Ed.
HSLDA Special Needs Coordinator

Ah! It's that time of year again...spring is in the air and with it,
many of us are turning our thoughts toward end-of-the-year
assessments, turning in progress reports, or submitting standardized
testing to the state. While requirements for documentation of
progress vary from state to state, some states accept portfolios as an
alternative means of assessment. (To find out which states allow the
portfolio assessment method, please look on your statewide homeschool
support group's website or visit HSLDA's state laws webpage In this e-newsletter, I
will discuss what a student portfolio is, how to create one for your
child, and the benefits of using portfolios as an alternative
assessment option.

The portfolio is meant to show progress over time by displaying or
highlighting student work samples during the course of the school
year. It is a meaningful way to help us evaluate how we are doing.
The word "evaluate" means to determine the worth or to find the value
after study. Portfolio assessment can be helpful in evaluating our
child's progress and in diagnosing areas of need for further
development. Thus, they can also help us to plan for further
instruction with our students.

A student portfolio is usually made by filling a three-ring binder
with work samples, projects, and pictures of the student's homeschool
studies and experiences. The notebook can be divided into subject
areas and arranged chronologically. It is a good idea to have the
child take part in selecting work samples, narrative writings, tests,
and pictures to include in the portfolio. Please note it is not
necessary to include every piece of writing, workbook page or exercise
the child has completed.

Here is a list of some of the types of work and documentation you may
choose to include in a portfolio:

> Independent reading log or literature list with brief notes about
the genre and length of book.
> Written work or writing samples (to include various genres of
> Outlines, graphic organizers, rough drafts and final papers (to show
writing process).
> Unit tests or curriculum-based tests.
> Copies of scores and reports on standardized tests.
> Special awards or certificates from participating in special
programs such as spelling bees, competitions, Book-It program or other
reading incentive program, etc.
> Brochures from places visited for field trips.
> Samples of journal entries.
> Pictures of social gatherings and experiences, such as a religious
youth group, sports team, co-op group.
> Pictures of science experiments or history projects.
> Lapbooks.
> Pictures of the home learning environment.
> Tapes or CDs of reading/fluency samples.
> Audio recordings of music recital or practice of instrument or
> Lists of curricula and materials.
> Goals and objectives of unit studies or subject areas.

Portfolios are invaluable as an alternative way of evaluating student
progress particularly for children with special needs because
depending on the severity of the child's needs, a standardized test or
traditional assessment may not be a true reflection of what the child
is capable of doing and what he or she has accomplished over the
course of the year. They are also a purposeful tool to show progress
in the development of skills over the course of a quarter, term, or
year. A portfolio truly gives us a broader and richer picture of the
student's efforts, accomplishments, unique giftings, developmental
levels across various areas, and strengths and weaknesses.

The portfolio shows real knowledge of the student that goes beyond
what a standardized test can show. While the information may not be
quantifiable like standardized test scores, the information is
individualized and is a more meaningful reflection of the child's
growth, needs and abilities. Portfolios are also beneficial because
they are a way to demonstrate to others, such as skeptical family
members, curious friends, and sometimes critics that providing the
one-on-one teaching in the home environment and tailoring a program of
instruction designed specifically for the child has indeed proven
valuable and worthy of the sacrifice and time put forth.

In my state of Virginia, I have the option of turning in either
standardized test results or submitting a portfolio to be reviewed by
an evaluator or educational consultant, who then in turn writes an
evaluation letter stating that the child is achieving an adequate
level of educational growth and progress. In Virginia, the consultant
or evaluator can either be a person licensed to teach in any state, or
a person with a master's degree or higher in an academic discipline,
having knowledge of the child's academic progress. It is important
for families to check their state's home school regulations and

Even if you are not required to maintain a portfolio or substituting a
portfolio assessment for standardized testing is not an option in your
state, you may still want to consider the benefits, as portfolios are
a valuable, authentic assessment tool. It is a fantastic way to see
the progress made in your homeschool program and it will probably end
up being one of your child's most treasured possessions!

Helpful Books:

Homeschooler's Guide to Portfolios and Transcripts by Loretta Heuer

Evaluating for Excellence: A Handbook for Evaluating Student Progress
by Teresa M. Moon

Online Articles:

"How to Create a Homeschool Portfolio"

"Homeschool Portfolio Evaluation"
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