Are you ready for annual assessments?

Chapter 18, Article 8, Section 1 lays out the compulsory school attendance requirement in West Virginia, and the exemptions–including homeschooling. In order to qualify for exemption c, subdivision 2, you must begin homeschooling with an NOI (parts A and B), and “obtain an academic assessment of the child for the previous school year“. There are four ways to do this, two of which are not usually recommended.

Recommended:

  • WVHEA offers the first option every spring: “a nationally normed standardized achievement test published or normed not more than ten years from the date of administration and administered under the conditions as set forth by the published instructions of the selected test and by a person qualified in accordance with the test’s published guidelines in the subjects of reading, language, mathematics, science and social studies”
  • The third option is a portfolio review by a certified teacher. This is a recommended method, although WVHEA does not typically recommend working with public school teachers because they are rarely aware of the legal requirements of homeschooling. WVHEA maintains a list of portfolio reviewers, although WVHEA does not endorse any particular reviewer. The homeschooling parent is responsible for locating a portfolio reviewer with whom they feel comfortable, and paying for the portfolio review.

Not Recommended:

  • The second option (the testing program currently in use in the state’s public schools) is not usually recommended, because homeschoolers are legally required to obtain the results by June 30, while the public school testing program results are often not yet back by then. Every year, WVHEA takes calls from homeschoolers who have been contacted by their local BOEs because they have not yet turned in their annual assessments, because the results aren’t yet available to them. Therefore, this option is not usually recommended.
  • The final option is “an alternative academic assessment of proficiency that is mutually agreed upon by the parent or legal guardian and the county superintendent.” This is not typically recommended because of the imbalance of power between the homeschooling parent and the county superintendent. Every year, WVHEA takes calls from homeschoolers who chose this option, and find that they’re having difficulty working with the superintendent’s designee, usually because they’re not aware of the law. Therefore, this option is not usually recommended.

Once the option is selected, you are required to keep copies of each child’s academic assessment for 3 years. “The parent or legal guardian shall submit to the county superintendent the results of the academic assessment of the child at grade levels three, five, eight and eleven, as applicable, by June 30 of the year in which the assessment was administered.”

–Courtney Ostaff

New Year, New Beginnings

How do you know what your child knows? Are you worried about them being behind in math or reading? What grade are they really capable of doing? Did your child actually learn all the key concepts last year? If you’re concerned about your child being behind, or ahead, one way to figure it out is to test them.

WVHEA’s annual spring testing meets state requirements. The TerraNova is a “norm-referenced” test. Norm-referenced is a percentage ranking compared to an average population. For example, Johnny is at 45th percentile. This means if you took 100 students and ranked them from top to bottom, Johnny would be 45 from the bottom. The TerraNova is a good annual test, but your score report usually doesn’t offer the detailed information you might want as your child’s teacher–is Tommy just being difficult, or can he really not divide two-digit decimals?

One product to test your child’s math and reading levels is Let’s Go Learn’s ADAM and DORA tests–available for homeschoolers. They are “criterion-referenced” because they report in grade level equivalent scores.  For example, Jane’s phonics skills are low 4th grade level. They are also:

  • online (computer, iPad, or tablet), meaning your child can do them in their pajamas
  • untimed (as many sessions as you like, take as long as your child needs, when your child is ready to work), and
  • individualized, adaptive tests (questions change depending on whether they got it right or wrong, so you know what grade level your child is actually capable of).

The best part is that they give you many pages of detailed results (Johnny can add like fractions, but not unlike fractions, for example). Sample report.

These are not the only tests, or even the best tests (an educational psychologist can administer much more detailed, much more thorough assessments, including screening for learning disabilities), but these tests can be a useful part of your homeschool planning.

–Courtney Ostaff

Community Spotlight: REACH

Raleigh Educational Association of Christian Homeschoolers, also known as REACH is a nondenominational Christian homeschool group serving around 153 homeschool families in southern West Virginia ranging from Prek-4 through 12th grade. They offer many activities to their members including co-op classes, gym and swim, field trips and even “mom’s nights out” where moms can get together to discuss homeschooling and offer support to one another.  For older children, they have “REACH High” which offers activities geared towards preteens and teenagers. Those activities include paintball, geocaching, volleyball clinics and canoeing. If you would like more information about REACH membership and everything it has to offer, visit their website at www.reachhomeschoolgroup.com.

–Ashley Neider

If you’d like your group featured here, let us know by emailing us at wvheatesting@gmail.com

Dad’s Workshop by Lee Neider

Welcome to the 1st edition of Dad‘s Workshop!

In this edition I would like to talk about dads and homeschool. I know some of you are actively involved in your children’s homeschool education, but for various reasons, many are not.  I am here as a dad that has been on both ends of that spectrum, so I can relate to both sides.

When we first started homeschooling about 5 years ago, I was not the involved dad that I am today. I was very supportive of my wife’s desire to homeschool, to provide our children with a better education than the public school system had given us, but I wasn’t actively involved. I bought all the supplies and curriculum she needed and praised their success; but I wasn’t the one in the trenches, so to speak.

Then my wife started talking to me about portfolios and testing, and legislation that could affect our decision to homeschool, and I realized I had no idea. It was like a  whole new world, that I didn’t know existed.

That was my turning point, when I realized I needed to be more involved; I should know what is going on. Over the course of the next few months I applied more of my free time to learning as much about homeschooling as possible, and helping my wife when I could.

A year later I found myself on the WVHEA board. It’s been an amazing experience watching my children learn and grow, and learning some new things myself. Over the course of this segment I hope to share those experiences and help other dads get more involved in homeschooling, because it’s an experience you don’t want to miss.

Now is the time to start thinking about assessment!

The WV homeschooling law, part 18-8-1 (c)(2) requires that each home educated child of compulsory age be assessed every year in reading, language arts, math, science, and social studies. Parents must maintain copies of each student’s academic assessment for three years. The assessment results for students in 3rd, 5th, 8th, and 11th grades must be submitted to the county by June 30.
The annual assessment can be

  • a standardized achievement test nationally normed within the last  ten years, or
  • the testing program currently in use in the WV public schools and administered in a public school, or
  • a written narrative prepared by a certified teacher (commonly called the “portfolio review”), or
  • an alternative assessment agreed to by the county superintendent.

Both CHEWV and WVHEA offer standardized testing options each spring. Experienced homeschoolers do not typically recommend testing with the public schools. Aside from the time commitment, homeschoolers have had difficulty receiving test scores back before June 30.

Most public school teachers are unfamiliar with homeschooling requirements for portfolio reviews. Use a home school-friendly teacher instead. The West Virginia Homeschool Haven and the Unsocialized Homeschoolers of West Virginia Facebook groups provide easy access to experienced portfolio reviewers. Do not send in the entire portfolio, just the written narrative.

–Courtney Ostaff

Happy Holidays from WVHEA!

The West Virginia Home Educators Association was founded in 1986 to assist homeschooling families. WVHEA is open to everyone, regardless of religion, personal beliefs, or educational philosophy. So whether you celebrate Diwali, Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice, Las Posadas, Christmas, or Kwanzaa, we’re here for you!

–Courtney Ostaff

Dad’s Workshop: Introduction

Welcome to the 1st edition of Dad’s Workshop! In this edition I would like to talk about dads and homeschool. I know some of you are actively involved in your children’s homeschool education, but for various reasons, many are not.  I am here as a dad that has been on both ends of that spectrum, so I can relate to both sides. When we first started homeschooling about 5 years ago, I was not the involved dad that I am today. I was very supportive of my wife’s desire to homeschool, to provide our children with a better education than the public school system had given us, but I wasn’t actively involved. I bought all the supplies and curriculum she needed and praised their success; but I wasn’t the one in the trenches, so to speak. Then my wife started talking to me about portfolios and testing, and legislation that could affect our decision to homeschool, and I realised I had no idea. It was like a  whole new world, that I didn’t know existed. That was my turning point, when I realised I needed to be more involved; I should know what is going on. Over the course of the next few months I applied more of my free time to learning as much about homeschooling as possible, and helping my wife when I could. A year later I found myself on the WVHEA board. It’s been an amazing experience watching my children learn and grow, and learning some new things myself. Over the course of this segment I hope to share those experiences and help other dads get more involved in homeschooling, because it’s an experience you don’t want to miss.

Community Spotlight: Raleigh Educational Association of Christian Homeschoolers

Raleigh Educational Association of Christian Homeschoolers, also known as REACH is a nondenominational Christian homeschool group serving around 153 homeschool families in southern West Virginia ranging from K4 through 12th grade. They offer many activities to their members including co-op classes, gym and swim, field trips and even “mom’s nights out” where moms can get together to discuss homeschooling and offer support to one another.  For older children, they have “REACH High” which offers activities geared towards preteens and teenagers. Those activities include paintball, geocaching, volleyball clinics and canoeing. If you would like more information about REACH membership and everything it has to offer, visit their website at www.reachhomeschoolgroup.com.

2019 Homeschool Day at the Capitol

Register now!  https://goo.gl/forms/7IzZpR6O2Jx1dopk1

This is your moment to meet our Representatives both in the House and Senate, and better yet, have them meet you. Show them what Homeschooling is all about. Talk to them so they know. Many have never met or talked to a homeschooler. Now is a great opportunity.

This is your chance to meet other homeschoolers from around the state. See how large of a group we really are, and how much we are growing.

We will have tours available throughout the day of our Beautiful Capitol and our Governors Mansion (read below for times and sign up)

Homeschool Day at the Capitol gives us the opportunity to educate our legislators on the values of homeschooling as a viable alternative to public education. Many of our Senators and Delegates have never met a homeschooling family and may not know much about home education. They may get most of their information about homeschooling from the Department of Education and teachers’ unions, which may not present homeschooling in a favorable way.

Why should your family attend Homeschool Day at the Capitol?

  • To protect the right to homeschool in West Virginia
  • To meet lawmakers in person and build personal relationships with them.
  • To show the legislature that homeschooling is a viable option for educating our children
  • Meet other homeschool families from across the state.
  • Tour the Capitol.
  • Visit the WV State Museum at the Cultural Center.
  • Learn about the legislative process.

Displays
Displays are a very important part of Homeschool Day. Individual families and homeschool support groups are encouraged to bring a display to show the various activities and accomplishments that have been made throughout the school year. (example: use a tri-fold board, show what your child has done, show an experiment they have worked on, show off your homeschool life or their projects, get creative)

–Courtney Ostaff