New homeschoolers have similar questions about annual assessments, and we hope this addresses them in a quick and easy format. Please let us know if you have questions about annual assessments, or if there are more common questions you’d like to have answered. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on our various social media accounts.
Deep breath. You and your children will be fine. We have a good article to encourage you.
When is the assessment due?
There is no specific due date. Families do not need to follow a traditional school year or their local district’s calendar. Families determine when it is appropriate to administer some kind of annual assessment.
What are the assessment options?
Homeschoolers have three broad choices for their assessment.
- A standardized test of your choice.
- An evaluation done by an education professional of your choice.
- Some other method agreed upon with your Participating Agency that demonstrates your child’s “progress commensurate with age and ability.”
We have details, links, and resources on our Testing & Evaluations page.
Who receives the assessment results?
Families keep the results private and are not required to submit them to their Participating Agency, their local SAU, or the state. Note that if your child seeks enrollment in a program or class, you may need to demonstrate academic readiness and that may involve a placement test, submitting a transcript, or sharing parts of your child’s portfolio and/or assessment results. Keep your child’s annual assessment in his/her portfolio for a minimum of two years.
What happens if my child doesn’t do well?
Families may repeat the assessment on a different day, choose a different test or evaluator, or try a different method. The home ed law does not specifically address this scenario, so it is open to the family’s discretion. Maybe the child wasn’t feeling well on that particular day, the test was confusing, or the evaluator wasn’t a good “fit” as expected. That’s ok. You can have a re-do.
Does the assessment determine if my child passes to the next grade level?
No, the assessment does not determine whether or not the child passes, advances to the next grade level, or graduates. The family makes that decision on their own criteria. The annual assessment outcome does not determine a student’s advancement.
Do I need to keep a portfolio?
All homeschoolers must maintain a portfolio regardless of the assessment method. It is usually the basis for a teacher evaluation, if the family chooses this option. The portfolio must include a reading list and work product samples of whatever the child did at various points in his/her learning year. Add your child’s annual assessment to the portfolio and keep everything in a safe place. There is more information available on the GSHE Portfolios page.
My child has learning differences. Are there assessment requirements or standards for children with special needs?
The assessment requirement is to demonstrate “progress commensurate with age and ability.” This means homeschoolers are not judged by their age-assigned grade level or public school standards; they are evaluated on their own abilities. Remember, families have three options for the annual assessment. If you choose a testing option, be aware that many acknowledge and allow accommodations; check with the test provider. Other families choose a teacher evaluation so there is no additional testing pressure on the child. Alternatively, families may use some other method that shows the child’s progress if agreed upon with their Participating Agency. Look on our Testing & Evaluations page for more details and links.
My child is five years old and in Kindergarten. Does he/she need an assessment?
The education attendance law, RSA 193:1, does not apply until a child is six years-old by September 30th of the current academic year. Until that time, none of the home education requirements are needed, so no assessment this year. Enjoy your child and learning together.
My child works above grade level in some subjects. What is the standard for him/her?
Home education allows children to learn at whatever level is appropriate, not one solely based on age-assigned grade levels or the same one for all subjects. However, for assessment purposes, families may choose to use the typical age-based level so it reflects “progress commensurate with age and ability,” which is the NH home education achievement threshold.
Does my child need to take the statewide assessment that is administered at my local public school? How do I sign up my student for the test?
Families may, but are not required to have their child participate in the statewide assessment at their local schools. If a family wishes to utilize this option, they must make arrangements well in advance to ensure availability. Check your local district’s policy regarding who to contact; often it is the school office for the appropriate grade level the child would be assigned to if enrolled.
Is there a minimum score requirement?
Home ed law requires students to obtain the 40th percentile or above as a composite score to show sufficient progress.
Can I administer the test at home myself?
Many standardized tests allow families to administer the exam at home over a period of time. Check each test provider for their requirements.
Do test providers allow spec ed accommodations? How can I make arrangements?
Each test provider will have their own requirements, but most want a copy of the child’s diagnosis or a list of accommodations that a neuropsychologist or other professional recommends. Commonly approved accommodations include extra time, a distraction-free environment, and a person to read the test questions (usually the parents).
Which grade level test is appropriate for my child? Some say that we need to use the next higher one for year-end purposes?
It varies test to test, so check with your selected test provider for specific instructions. Many recommend using the current grade-level exam as a mid-year assessment, and the next one up for a year-end assessment. It totally depends, so contact your test provider if you have any questions. If you choose to test at the next higher grade level, you may notice that the exams include topics that your child did not learn. This is a common part of standardized tests. It is how they determine if your child is ahead of grade level in the subject. Even public schools' annual assessment has above grade level questions to determine if students are "above proficient."
Can I administer the test myself at home?
It depends. Some tests require the administrator of the test to have particular qualifications such as a bachelor’s degree or be a neutral third-party adult. Check with your selected test provider for specifics.
The test I prefer requires a proctor. Where do I find one?
Many of the teachers and tutors on the GSHE list also offer proctoring services. Check with your local library, too.
What tests may be appropriate to begin our homeschool journey to determine placement and which grade level materials to use?
Families can use the same assessments for beginning of year grade level determinations that are used for annual assessments. It's optional, not required. If you are using a particular curriculum, many have online placement tests that are specifically for their materials.
What are the requirements for evaluators?
Per the home education statute, an evaluator must hold a current NH teaching certification or one issued by a state with reciprocity, or currently teach in one of NH’s private schools. The law does not limit teachers to grade levels or specialty areas, but both the parents and teachers determine if it is a good “fit” to perform an evaluation for a particular child.
Why does GSHE discourage working with our local public school and teachers?
Most public school officials are not familiar with home education law and are not aware that homeschooling is not required to replicate or resemble public education in any way – the pedagogy, standards, scope/sequence, calendar year, daily schedule, and other norms in a traditional school environment. Also, public school officials may come to expect homeschoolers to share test results or portfolios with them as a routine process, which goes beyond home education law. Home education empowers individualized learning and progress will likely look different for homeschoolers as compared to children in a public-school setting.
How do I find and select an evaluator?
Families are free to use any person who meets NH’s requirements. GSHE has an extensive list of teachers on our website and some are homeschoolers themselves. Before adding anyone to our list of providers, we make sure the individuals are informed about New Hampshire's home education law and requirements. It is up to the families to verify teaching credentials. GSHE also encourages families to have a discussion with potential evaluators, asking them about their teaching experience, background, approach to evaluations, what materials they review, cost, availability, feedback they provide, and other areas of concern.
Is there a particular or official form for evaluations? What kind of feedback should I expect?
Teachers are free to develop their own evaluation form, but we encourage it to reflect the same basic information that is in the initial notification (the child’s name, birth date, address), provide the teacher’s certification information, date of the evaluation, a brief description of what materials were reviewed, and specifically state whether or not the child demonstrated “progress commensurate with age and ability.” The individual teacher is able to give simple or more detailed feedback to the family. This is where he/she can bring their own expertise forward. They may note areas of strength and where improvement is recommended, and make other recommendations for the following academic year. The evaluation is complete once the parent signs it. We have suggestions on our Teacher Evaluators, Tutors & Proctors page.
How is an evaluation done?
Each teacher will have their own process, which is why we recommend families ask about it prior to committing to the evaluation. The teacher will almost certainly review materials in the child’s portfolio, and may ask questions of the parent for clarification or more details. Some might include a discussion with the student, particularly if the child is older and wishes to participate in the process. Some families and teachers prefer in-person evaluations that require dropping off materials for a period of time, while others offer on-line or virtual evaluations. Again, check with the individuals so expectations are clear.
What is the cost?
It will vary greatly depending on the complexity of the review and feedback. Most teachers charge between $25 to $40; some offer multi-child discounts.
If a parent meets the legal requirements, may he/she do their own home ed evaluation for their child?
There is nothing in NH’s home education law to prohibit it, but we encourage families to seek evaluations by a neutral third-party.