As they leave the "system", I have the responsibility to ensure we are playing within the homeschool rules framework of our state. Our state is a good homeschool state, being supportive of this freedom option, and even provides free resources to us including free online classes!
Our state covers homeschooling requirements primarily within its statutes (The 2016 Florida Homeschooling Statutes). I've been studying them aggressively to ensure that we are doing this right.
The statues covering homeschool are very straight forward, and they don't seem overly onerous. Here are some of the key things that I have to pay attention to:
1. "notice shall be filed in the district school superintendent’s office within 30 days of the establishment of the home education program."
2. "The parent shall maintain a portfolio of records and materials" that consists of a log of what was done and samples of what was done by the student. The log is to be created as we go.
3. "The parent shall provide for an annual educational evaluation in which is documented the student’s demonstration of educational progress at a level commensurate with her or his ability."
The first one isn't a big deal. It is a one time paper work filing that has the kids names, ages, etc. Back in October of 2016, I had reached out to our county's public school system section leader to ensure that I our counties latest preferred form version. This person (Toney S) was very responsive and got back to me with a cheerful note appending the form.
The second one, maintaining records as we go, is more a discipline issue than anything else. I believe I will find and use some sort of online journaling software. Hell, a blog could do it. That is, each day ensure that what we've done is chronicled in some manner that can be accessed.
The third one, the annual education evaluation, seems fair but brings back in the squishy area of subjectivity that I don't like. However, our state is great in that the evaluations can be done in a number of ways. According to the Florida statutes, we can do the annual evaluations by:
- Having a teacher certified in the state of Florida review their work
- Taking a Nationally Normed Student Assessment Test (aka Standardized Tests)
- Taking our School District's Assessment Test
- Having them evaluated by an Education Psychologist licensed in the state of Florida
- Any other method agreed to between me and the School District Superintendent
Of these options, the one we shall be choosing is a Florida certified teacher yearly evaluation. I've already found a fantastic link to a directory of Florida teachers willing to do the necessary evaluations. Prices range from $25 to $50 or so per child per year. Some of the teachers are earning extra money during the summer months, while others are homeschool parents themselves that happen to be licensed to teach in Florida. You can find the directory at http://florida-homeschooling.org/evaluator/
If I combine the online journaling software with a digital capture of my daughters work, then that would mean all the information for the evaluation by a teacher could be done on-line! And if the evaluator wants to talk with them, a simple Skype session could be established. That may be a great way to manage and handle all this. By keeping it online, I could also easily handle the two years of records keeping required by the statutes.
Well alright all right! Here we go!