Sunday, June 16, 2013

It's that time of year.....Homeschool Notification time....

We have dotted our i's and crossed our t's.  We have learned letter sounds, numbers and cursive handwriting.  Then there is Alfred Bierstedt, Daniel Boone and 1800s New Orleans.  I sit and look at all we have learned in this past school year, and I forgot so many fun activities we done.  And I am reminded why I started our's a record!!!

I drive my kiddos crazy snapping pictures of them working on various projects.  But I do forget so many things, that I am glad I have this ongoing record for my brain fog !!

Now that our official 2012-2013 school year has ended, what do we need to do next.  It's time for the reporting of your student's progress to the district.  To keep myself familiar with the requirements, I have the Ohio Home Educators page bookmarked on my computer.   They have links there for all required forms in the State of Ohio.

The state of Ohio is actually one of the easier states to report in.   Make sure to be familiar with the homeschooling laws in your state.  One reason, so that you know that you are doing things correctly.  The second big reason, so your school district can't try and sneak more information out of you than you actually need to report. They are trying to get more and more information out of parents by saying it's "required", when in all honesty it really is not.

At the end of each school year, the state of Ohio requires either an academic assessment by a certified teacher or an academic test score.

3301-34-04 Academic assessment.

(A) The parent(s) shall send to the superintendent an academic assessment report of the child for the previous school year at the time of supplying subsequent notification.
(B) The academic assessment report shall include one of the following:
(1) Results of a nationally normed, standardized achievement test.
(a) Such test shall be administered by:
(i) A licensed or certified teacher; or
(ii) Another person mutually agreed upon by the parent(s) and the superintendent; or
(iii) A person duly authorized by the publisher of the test.
(b) Results should demonstrate reasonable proficiency as compared to other children in the district at the same grade level. Any child that has a composite score at or above the twenty-fifth percentile shall be deemed to be performing at a level of reasonable proficiency.
(2) A written narrative indicating that a portfolio of samples of the child's work has been reviewed and that the child's academic progress for the year is in accordance with the child's abilities.
(a) The written narrative shall be prepared by:
(i) A licensed or certified teacher; or
(ii) Other person mutually agreed upon by the parent(s) and the superintendent.
(b) The parent(s) shall be responsible for the payment of fees charged for preparation of the narrative.
(3) An alternative academic assessment of the child's proficiency mutually agreed upon by the parent and the superintendent.
(C) If the parent(s) chooses to have the standardized testing conducted as part of the school district scheduled testing program, there shall be no cost to the parent(s). The time and location for testing shall be established by the school district.

(D) If the parent(s) chooses to have the standardized testing conducted privately, the parent(s) shall pay for the testing. The time and location for testing shall be established by the parent(s).

So in Ohio, we have our choice to not require testing of our children.  I have seen a good share of families that like to get academic testing and and equal share that prefer academic assessments by a certified teacher.  We choose the Academic assessments by a certified teacher.  The boys do not test well, so that is why we choose the certified teacher.  Basically an Academic Assessment by a certified teacher is when a licensed teacher examines a portfolio of your child's work from the year.  The assessor generally sits with the kiddos and parent to discuss the activities and lessons they have completed during the school year.  They ask the kids about their favorite projects, fun facts they have learned, etc.  A very laid back and comfortable way to show what they have learned.  There are many choices in our homeschool group to find a certified teacher.  We have never had a problem, and have had the same assessor for 4 years now.  The kids feel comfortable this way, and it takes the stress out of things.

The points that the assessor looks for are in the Homeschooling Code for Ohio.  Some of the requirements each year are that the child needs to be educated by a parent with a high school diploma (minimum) or a certified teacher.  You agree to 900 hours of education during the said school year.  You also agree to teach first aid, fire safety, and provide fine arts education including music along with the standard curriculum resources.
    (8) Assurance that the child will be provided a minimum of nine hundred hours of home education each school year.
    (9) Assurance that the home teacher has one of the following qualifications:
      (a) A high school diploma; or
      (b) The certificate of high school equivalence; or
      (c) Standardized test scores that demonstrate
      high school equivalence; or
      (d) Other equivalent credential found appropriate
      by the superintendent; or
      (e) Lacking the above, the home teacher must work under the direction of a person holding a baccalaureate degree from a recognized college until the child's or children's test results demonstrate reasonable proficiency or until the home teacher obtains a high school diploma or the certificate of high school equivalence.

Once our assessor sees that we have met the above requirements, she signs off on our Academic Assessment Report and that is what we need to turn into our superintendent's office.

In the same envelopment that I am sending in their assessments, I also include our Letter of Intent to continue Home Education.  All of this information is due by the first day of school in the district where you live (and that is the start of the public school systems school year).  You can easily download a Letter of Notification.  I actually have it typed and saved in my Word program, and simply change the information for the new year.  Print, sign and I'm ready to go.

A separate Letter of Notification is not needed for each child in your family.  You can list them all on one form.

The second page of this document asks that you fill them in on the curriculum or teaching materials that you will be using.  I usually fill this in fairly vague.  I list ideas of programs we might be using, and also mark down the library and even our Bible.  Be careful about filling in too much info.  What if something you picked didn't work?  Most homeschoolers provide a general list of products they will be using.

It is of MAJOR importance that you make copies of all paperwork that you are sending into your district.  If you do not drop the paperwork off in person, make sure to get your paperwork return certified when you are mailing it in.  You will always have a receipt of who picked up the envelope, and you will know exactly when it was delivered.  Since our district is notorious for lost paperwork, the returned certified is a must for us.  They lost paperwork last year when I hand delivered the papers.  So I guess the rule of thumb is, "Be Prepared for all Losses....."

As you can see, Ohio is fairly easy to report in.  They do not require work samples for themselves to see.  As long as you turn your paperwork in on time, you generally do not have any problems.  Of course, that also depends on your district.  If you do start to have problems though, be sure to also get to know the Homeschool Legal Defense Association so that you can protect your homeschooling rights.

Hope this info helps someone out...feel free to email me if you have any questions.  Or post a comment here.  I receive all comments through email.

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