Homeschool Progress: What the Law Says
Washington state law says that parents must have their students assessed each year to show they are making "progress."
See for yourself...
If, as a result of the annual test or assessment, it is determined that the child is not making reasonable progress consistent with his or her age or stage of development, the parent shall make a good faith effort to remedy any deficiency. If, as a result of the annual test or assessment, it is determined that the child is not making reasonable progress consistent with his or her age or stage of development, the parent shall make a good faith effort to remedy any deficiency. RCW 28A.200.010(3) - Read full text here
What is progress?
The law does not define what is meant by progress. It is left to interpretation, much like the definition of “homeschooling:”
It is what we choose to make it.
The law also requires that 11 subjects be “taught” while homeschooling.
Instruction shall be home-based if it consists of planned and supervised instructional and related educational activities, including a curriculum and instruction in the basic skills of occupational education, science, mathematics, language, social studies, history, health, reading, writing, spelling, and the development of an appreciation of art and music, provided for a number of hours equivalent to the total annual program hours per grade level...RCW 28A.225.010(4)
Washington homeschoolers are fortunate because we are free not only to decide how we wish to “make progress” each year, but how we choose to measure it.
A daunting feet at first glance, but again, we are fortunate because the law has given us the freedom to decide HOW each subject is to be addressed.
With so many options for “making progress,” creativity abounds. Families are free to venture outside the confines of traditional textbooks and curricula., and they do. Families at every point on the homeschooling spectrum mix, match, create, modify, and switch their methods to meet the growing and changing minds of their students. They are truly the chameleons of the education world.
Northwest Untest embraces the creativity, flexibility, and the independent spirits of the homeschooling, unschooling, and after-schooling communities and we recognize that using traditional methods to measure “progress” that has no universal definition does not result in fair or accurate evaluation. At best, that measurement is incomplete.
“Progress” has no universal definition. Families are free (and very fortunate) to define their own progress, yet most often, it is left left to the interpretation of classroom teachers and test publishers by default; neither of whom are in the business of serving or understanding the diverse needs of homeschoolers.
The right tool for the right job
You would not use a hammer to tighten a bolt. You would use a wrench, but not just any wrench, you would use the one that was the right fit for the bolt. Hammers and wrenches are both tools, but each are specialized to do a specific task properly.
Teachers and test providers are no different. They do what they do well, but are they the best “tool” for the task of assessing your homeschooled student? Do they truly understand you and your student, your academic goals, your philosophies? Will they give you honest and relevant feedback? Or, will you come away lost, confused and with less confidence in yourself and your student. Assessment is a tool to help you navigate the best educational path for your student. If you do not feel that your current assessment method is the right “tool” for the task, give Northwest Untest at try.