April 11, 2007

Finishing First Full Year under Expanded Assessment Options

As a result of legislation drafted and backed by Home School Legal Defense Association and other homeschool organizations, year-end assessment options have increased. These changes went into effect July 1, 2006. We are now approaching the end of the first full year under the new laws.

Assessment Option 1 (AO1) has been improved by allowing homeschoolers to use any nationally-normed standardized achievement test. Homeschoolers do not need to get prior approval from their school district. The district has no power over the manner in which the test is administered to homeschooled student, so long as it is done in compliance with the protocols of the test publisher. Under AO1, a composite score of 23rd percentile (4th stanine) or higher is automatically a passing score.

Assessment Option 2 (AO2) has been improved by removing the power of a superintendent to use unfettered “judgment.” Now he must be objective and consistent; he must make a “determination.” Many different types of assessments can be submitted under AO2. The key is whether the assessment objectively shows an “adequate level of educational growth and progress.” For example, any of the following might be used to demonstrate adequate progress under AO2 under appropriate circumstances:

  1. A test score from a test that is not nationally-normed or standardized.
  2. A nationally-normed standardized achievement test with a score below the 23rd percentile (but which shows adequate progress since the previous year).
  3. A portfolio accompanied by an assessment of the portfolio that documents adequate progress.
  4. Report cards from certain schools or organizations.
  5. A written assessment prepared by someone with expertise in the field (certified teacher, person with a graduate degree in certain areas, etc.)

Please call HSLDA if you have a question about whether such “appropriate circumstances” are present in your situation.

Although we are now approaching the first full year under the changes, some school districts are not up to speed. HSLDA has sent many letters to school districts correcting errors in information they sent to homeschool families. Be aware that some school districts may give incorrect advice.

As before, homeschoolers do not need to submit a year-end assessment if their child was not 6 years old or older on September 30. Families who filed a notice of intent must submit their assessment by August 1.