We have fielded many questions from families who are uncertain about year-end assessments with public and private schools closed and states, including New Hampshire, seeking waivers from the US Department of Education for their annual statewide assessments due to the Coronavirus.
To date we have heard nothing that suspends or waives homeschoolers from the annual year-end assessment requirements.
If your family customarily participates in testing at your local public school, you may need to find an alternative as schools may remain closed for several weeks, and if they reopen, they may not conduct the usual testing.
There are several standardized tests available that can easily be completed at home; some are online while others are paper and pencil. There are also several different types of tests, such as the Personalized Achievement Summary System (PASS), California Achievement Test (CAT), the Iowa Basic Skills Test, and more; you have the choice of which is appropriate for your child. We have an extensive list available on our website. Note that the performance requirement is for students to achieve a composite score at or above the 40th percentile.
Alternatively, the year-end assessment may be done by a teacher who evaluates your child’s portfolio. He or she may have a preferred way of reviewing the material, and may request to discuss your child’s year with you or your child. Some teachers may offer a video or online evaluation, especially given today’s “social distancing” recommendations. The performance requirement for evaluations is for the teacher to determine that the child’s work is commensurate for his/her age and ability. This is often the preferred year-end assessment approach for families who unschool or have a child with learning differences. Our website has a list of teachers who offer evaluation services and we strongly recommend communicating with them to find one that is a good fit for your family’s learning style.
Families may also negotiate an alternative method for their year-end assessment with their Participating Agency (PA). The PA is the school – your local SAU or private school – you notified when you began your home education program. Some families may have a report card issued by an online education provider or various assessments provided by outside resources used throughout the year. Some schools may accept different standardized tests for the year-end assessment, such as the SAT, ACT, or SSAT. Some schools may be more flexible than others, so it is important to have a discussion well in advance of your year-end if you wish to use an alternative assessment approach. It is wise to get the decision in writing to avoid any confusion later.
Whether you choose a standardized test, a teacher evaluation, or an alternative assessment, the results remain private and you are not required to submit them to your Participating Agency or local school district office.
Families also have asked whether or not homeschoolers will be given an extension for completing their annual assessments. Given that the statute, RSA 193-A, and Ed 315 rules (scroll approximately half-way down) require an annual assessment without a specified due date, families have the ability to determine when to conduct the evaluation so it reflects the child's progress. Because state statute allows the flexibility about when to perform the annual assessment, families do not need to request an extension.
By Michelle Levell, co-founder