Portfolios offer every child a chance to be a star, because their assessment is totally based on their progress and not as a comparison to Status Quo Joe. It allows for freedom of instruction to be at the child's level without fear of failing in an area of a standardized test. It offers an alternative that allows the child's originality and creativity to shine forth as well as their knowledge.
What Do You Need to Have to Satisfy West Virginia
The state of West Virginia requires five core areas to be taught and reviewed for assessment. Those are Reading (includes Spelling), Language Arts (Writing and Grammar), Math, Social Studies (History), and Science. The state has learning outcomes for each of these areas for every grade that is very similar to other checklists that can be found in various sources. Most published curriculum has those outcomes built in to them.
What each evaluator is required to look for is that each child they assess has progressed at their level in each of the core areas. The person who assesses your child must be a certified teacher and must submit to the board of education a statement stating that they have evaluated the child and that he or she has or has not progressed for the year at their level. For this reason, it is important to find a teacher who is favorable to homeschooling, because public school teachers often have different criteria based on their own classrooms.
How to Construct a Portfolio
Below you will find a suggested outline to help you get organized. You will find ideas for every area that would be very beneficial for your evaluator. Some things, such as a beginning reading assessment level will be something your evaluator can give you for the next year. If you haven't received one so far, the grade level your child was reading at with ease at the end of the last school year will work just fine. Pretests are another area you might not be familiar with. These are wonderful tools to show just what your child has learned for the year. If your curriculum doesn't offer such a tool, than the final for that year copied and given at the first of the year will show a great comparison at year end when they take their finals. Of course, the pretest is not something one grades. Children will relax and do their best once that is explained to them.
In addition to what has been outlined for you, pictures of your homeschooling, awards, and tickets or pamphlets from field trips are nice to include. If you use unit studies, you may wish to put in dividers for every unit studied rather than a dividers for Social Studies and Science.
Your evaluator will probably need a copy of your course of study (textbooks and subjects taught list). They will also find it extremely valuable to see your educational objectives for your child. Some of you may wish to write up your own based off of your child's level and interests. Some may wish to use the learning outcomes of the state as their objectives. In either case, it is important to write year end notes in regards to each objective as to whether they have been met or not and any notes you find important to include on that objective. This will not only help your evaluator, but it will be a wonderful tool for you if you should ever be called into question. It will also help you tremendously in seeing your child's progress and writing your next year's objectives. Also nice to include is your child's quarterly reports (your idea of a report card - whether grades or summary) and possibly an attendance calendar.
Please understand, that the following suggestion is not the only way to do a portfolio, but it will act as a springboard to help you on your way.
What Should I Expect From an Evaluator?
You should expect to be available, as well as the child in most cases, for the evaluator to ask questions and get a year end reading level on your child if the child willing. You should receive from your evaluator a notice of progress for the Board, a summary of their review, and answers to your questions. You should also expect them to keep their own notes in case you would ever need them to back you up in a review. You want someone who is prepared and professional.
A Portfolio Construction Suggestion
A. Needed Equipment
1. A 3 ring binder with divider tabs
2. Hole Punch
3. Date stamp (for dating child's work)
4. Lined sticky note pads (for writing teacher notes on child's papers)
5. Camera and film
1. Divider 1 - Assessment and Objectives
a. Course of Study (extra copy for evaluator)
b. Educational objectives and accomplishments
c. Report cards or note summaries of child's progress
d. Attendance calendar
2. Divider 2 - Learning Log/Lesson Plans
3. Divider 3 - Reading
a. List of books read by and to child
b. Beginning of year reading level
c. Any tests given, such a phonics or comprehension
d. A sample of child's story elements sheets
e. Any activities you did to expand the reading experience
f. Samples of narratives the child wrote on a book
4. Divider 4 - Spelling
a. Spelling pretests
b. Final tests
c. Samples of spelling activities
d. Personal dictionary of child's spelling words for year
5. Divider 5 - Grammar and Writing
a. Beginning of the year writing sample such as a report
b. Tests throughout year or best representation of each quarter
c. Writing samples - one from each quarter showing pre-write, edit,
final copy, and teacher's evaluation.
d. Published books that the child has written
e. Samples of journal pages
f. Copy of any letters sent
g. Field trip reports
6. Divider 6 - Math
b. Tests throughout year
c. Any cumulative record or checklists you keep
7. Divider 7 - Social Studies
b. Reports on historical events
c. Biographies on historical figures
d. Picture of projects
e. Pictures of hands-on experiences
f. Field trip reports
g. Recordings of dramas
8. Divider 8 - Science
b. Science lab sheets used with experiments
c. Scientist biographies
d. Science fact sheets
e. Pictures of projects
f. Relating field trips pictures and reports
Again, these are only suggestions. Not everyone will have all of the ideas I suggested available. That is okay. Just remember to always be thinking on what can I put into the portfolio that will demonstrate to the evaluator that my child has accomplished and achieved for his ability level.