Monday, March 12, 2012

What to show your homeschool evaluator...

What does an evaluator want to see?  I'm sure that each evaluator has their own personal wish-list of things they want you to provide, but I also imagine that the lists are basically the same.  I can only speak from my own personal experience.  We have always used Dr. Teresa Williams as our evaluator and if you are interested, her contact info is:

Dr. Teresa Williams
5155 Cold Harbor Road
Mechanicsville, VA 23111
804 239-7626 (cell) 
Besides encouraging you & your children & filling you all with confidence, Dr. Williams specializes in portfolio evaluations, educational testing, consultations for special-needs education (multi-categorical) K-12, face-to-face assessment/testing, consultation in alternative instructional and behavioral techniques, and learning styles assessment.  
Most years, she has come to our house but there have been a few years where we’ve gone to hers.  While I’ve referred to her as Dr. Williams throughout this blog series, I really call her Teresa.  She’s not stuffy at all & does not insist that you call her “doctor.”   She’s one of those bubbly people with whom you instantly feel a deep friendship.
You will need to prepare several things prior to your meeting with Dr. Williams.  She always wants to see: 
  • a list of all text books or core books used during the year, including the publisher
  • a list of all books read by or read to your child including audio books
  • a list of educational TV shows & movies your child has watched.  Don’t forget, Jeopardy is educational as well as cooking or craft shows.  It doesn’t have to be on PBS or the History Channel to qualify as educational.
  • a list of outside activities your child participates in.  This list can include everything from co-op classes to weekly play dates.  This list will not only show her what types of things your child is interested in, but she can also refer to specific things you do outside of the house in her written evaluation to show the school board that you are socializing.  
  • a list of field trips you’ve taken & don’t forget to include touristy things you did on vacation or that spur of the moment time when the bank teller gave your child a tour of the vault.
  • a list of games (board, video, sports) your child enjoys.
  • a brief written description of your school year, including what grade your child is in.  What subjects you studied, what your child excelled at, & what your child struggled with.  Any concerns you have & any plans you have to correct those concerns.  
The written description serves several purposes.  First, Dr. Williams will glance over it before she starts the evaluation (if your child allows her the time. LOL)  It gives her a heads up on what you’ll be discussing & any areas you are concerned about.  It also allows her to spend more time interacting with your child instead of taking notes on what is being discussed.  I have found that I enjoy writing the description because it helps me to realize that we have in fact accomplished something that year.  
Another thing Dr. Williams will want to see is samples of work from the beginning, middle & end of the year for math & language arts.  She’ll also request that you and your child each pick one or two things that you are most proud of to show her.  This could be an art project, a history project, something the child wrote, an A+ on a math test.....  During our more organized years, I kept the kids’ school work in giant notebooks.  I’d simply go through & put a Post-It on the pages I wanted to show her.  If I was really organized, I’d write on the Post-It what I wanted to point out - that it was a poem, or that the hand writing was particularly good, or that there was an interesting sentence in paragraph #2, or, “Look!! Zack finally figured out the difference between spelling ‘witch’ & ‘which’!!”  (He struggled with those two words for years!)
Depending on your child’s age & abilities, she may want your child to read to her. Your child gets to choose what to read so he can practice in advance if he wants.  She may also ask your child to write his name.  I don’t ever remember her asking Sarah to do that, but she did it with Zack several times, perhaps because of his fear of pencils...
As I mentioned in a previous post, Dr. Williams does not give a hoot as to how you present what your child has learned.  I take that back.  She would like you to provide copies of all those lists so that she can take them home with her & refer back to them when she’s writing the formal evaluation.  But other than than, she does not care how the info is presented.  I know families who create museum quality scrapbooks to show her, while we once showed up with a paper grocery bag overflowing with crinkled, balled up, unorganized papers.  The presentation does not matter. She’s not grading you on your scrapbooking skills.  She doesn’t even grade you on your organizational skills.  What she does is make you and your children feel wonderful about yourselves and your accomplishments. 
No matter how long you’ve been homeschooling, you are pretty much guaranteed to be a nervous wreck during the days leading up to your evaluation.  Once it’s over, you’ll laugh at how silly you were to be so nervous.  
Once the evaluation is over, Dr. Williams will go home & write up her report.  Generally, she mails the original back to you within a week or so and you are then responsible for delivering it to your local school board authority.  The final report will be fairly brief & to the point.  It will simply state that Dr. Williams met with your child & she saw evidence of progress.  If your child is excelling at something, it may be mentioned briefly.  If your child is way behind in some area(s), your plan of correction will probably be mentioned.  The report will also probably reference some routine out of the house activity that your child does just to prove to the school board that you are not keeping your child chained up in a closet.  Okay, don’t even get me started on the need for homeschoolers to prove that we socialize.  We might actually be able to get our math done in a timely manner if it wasn’t for all the socializing we do.  But that’s a whole other blog post.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much Jeannie. I've always tested my kids, but with all the discussion about evaluators, I'm thinking of changing my ways. I truly appreciate your input.