Home Education Evaluation Basics
Florida law requires home education students to be evaluated yearly (and also within 30 days of ending their homeschooling).
Members of The Association of Florida Evaluators are qualified to administer one or more types of Florida home education evaluations.
Florida Statute 1002.41(1)(f) requires the home education parent to choose one from five options for an evaluation to document that the student has made educational progress commensurate with his or her ability.
The parent is to file a copy of the evaluation* with the school district's superintendent in the district in which the child resides, so the evaluator must provide documentation directly to the parent.
Every superintendent has named a contact to receive such documentation on their behalf.
Portfolio Review Evaluation
A teacher selected by the parent shall evaluate the student’s educational progress upon review of the portfolio and discussion with the student.
The teacher shall hold a valid regular (i.e., professional level) Florida certificate to teach academic subjects at the elementary or secondary level.
This type of evaluation is not meant to be a test. Florida law specifies that the evaluation is to show that the student is making educational progress commensurate with his or her ability rather than with a specific grade level standard.
A discussion with the student must be included, but it can be a simple chat about the progress shown or including the child in a meeting similar to a parent-teacher conference to review the student's progress.
Any Nationally Normed Student Achievement Test
The test must be administered by a certified teacher.
Per text in the Craig Dickinson Act, Florida Statute 1006.15(3)(c)2, scores above the 35th percentile are considered passing.
Only the teacher who administered a test can sign off on those test scores for an evaluation.
Test scores can, however, be included with a portfolio for another teacher to evaluate as part of a portfolio review.
The California Achievement Test (CAT), the Iowa Test (ITBS), and the Stanford Achievement Tests (aka Stanford 10) are examples of such tests.
A State Student Assessment Test*
Used by the school district (eg., B.E.S.T., FSA, FCAT) and administered by a certified teacher, at a location and under testing conditions approved by the school district
The parent must contact the school district in advance to set this up--January or February are recommended times to contact them. Testing is typically in the zoned school with public school students.
*A Florida student assessment test is the only evaluation type for which results are automatically sent to the district. Parents do not need to submit these test scores to the district as the district will get them first.
Evaluation by a Psychologist or School Psychologist
The psychologist or school psychologist must have a valid, active license pursuant to the provisions of Florida Statute 490.003(7) or (8).
Florida home education law does not dictate the methodology to be used but leaves that to the professional judgement of the psychologist.
Any Other Evaluation Method that the Parent and District Agree On
The student shall be evaluated with any other valid measurement tool as mutually agreed upon by the district school superintendent of the district in which the student resides and the student’s parent.
This is the only option which varies by district.
Some options that districts have previously accepted include grade reports from FLVS or dual-enrollment college courses or accredited programs. Check with your district home education contact to verify what they'll agree to accept.
Florida statute 1002.41(2) requires the district school superintendent to accept the results of the annual educational evaluation of the student in a home education program (assuming it fits one of the options listed).
Florida statute 1002.41(2) describes the academic probation process for those that do not pass the evaluation.
A good evaluator should clearly notify the student and parent if the evaluation is not passed and give tips for remediation.
Florida statute 1002.41(13) prohibits districts from requiring anything beyond what's in Florida law, including the use of specific forms, unless the student participates in a district program.
Experienced professional evaluators often provide their own evaluation forms.
Who can evaluate FL homeschoolers?
A FL certified teacher with current, regular (i.e., professional level rather than temporary) certification that allows teaching of elementary or secondary grade levels can do portfolio review and/or nationally-normed achievement test evaluations.
A currently-licensed FL psychologist or school psychologist can also do evaluations; Florida law doesn't dictate how psychologists' evaluations are done.
Qualified teachers and/or psychologists do not have to register on a list nor go through any specific training to do evaluations. Which means that some who do evaluations have not even read home education law nor FL DOE policy and make up their own requirements rather than following state law. Such people sometimes create unnecessary problems for homeschoolers. This is one of the reasons this group was created.
Who can evaluate FL homeschoolers?
Home education evaluators are not required to belong to AFE, but our members are evaluators with access to information and training about evaluation requirements and agree to adhere to best practices in accordance with Florida law and FL DOE policy.
The Association of Florida Evaluators seeks to ensure professional homeschool evaluations from trusted professionals for home education students across Florida.
Our Homeschool Evaluators' List
View the Association of Florida Evaluator's list of available evaluators--Available SOON!
Home education is NOT a district program
Home education is not a school district program and is registered with the district school superintendent only to meet Florida's attendance requirements. Districts are prohibited from adding requirements to state law unless the student participates in a school district program. See Florida Statute 1002.41
Why is this important?
Home education students do not have to follow public school methods, use public school materials, adhere to public school standards, etc. Many people choose not to use public schools because their methods, materials, standards, practices, schedules, etc. have not worked for their children. An education customized to meet the specific learning style of each child, work at the level of the child (even if that means using materials for different grade levels for each subject), go back and fill in learning gaps, use materials that reinforce the family's value system, and more can be more effective than a "cookie cutter" education. This is part of the strength of home education.
From Florida statute 1002.41
" A home education program is not a school district program and is registered with the district school superintendent only for the purpose of complying with the state’s attendance requirements under s. 1003.21(1)."
"(13) A school district may not further regulate, exercise control over, or require documentation from parents of home education program students beyond the requirements of this section unless the regulation, control, or documentation is necessary for participation in a school district program."
Home education is NOT a district program
Evaluators should not try to enforce public school standards, timetables, etc. when those are not required by law. Instead, evaluators should attempt to verify that each student is making educational progress commensurate with ability regardless of whether the education is patterned after public school education or is more innovative. Good evaluators assist parents by using their professional knowledge to share tips, suggestions for methods, materials, documentation, programs, curricula, college applications, etc.
Good evaluators will know the obligations, rights, and limitations of both parents and districts and may help educate parents and/or districts to help parents successfully navigate the system as they educate their own.
Good evaluators may use non-district legally-compliant forms and help parents who encounter issues with a school district. Good evaluators work towards learning more about homeschooling laws, resources, educational practices, etc. to continue to improve their evaluation services.
Florida school districts often provide evaluation forms for home education students, but districts cannot require specific evaluation forms. Some district forms ask for information that parents are not required to provide and/or have outdated or other incorrect information on them. For these reasons and others, many evaluators use non-district forms or devise their own. Our evaluators may choose to use our forms which meet Florida legal requirements.
Evaluators can create their own evaluation forms. Any evaluation forms should include the student's full name and date of birth, the student's address, and a parent's name. The form should have a spot for the evaluation date, the evaluator's name, teacher's certificate or psychologist's license number and expiration date, the evaluator's signature, and should indicate whether the evaluator accepts or doesn't accept the test or portfolio results as showing evidence of educational progress commensurate with ability.
There's no requirement to include a copy of the teaching certificate or psychologist license with the evaluation form. School districts can check online to verify the evaluator's teacher or psychologist credentials.
Who Submits the Form?
Florida law requires the parent* to submit a copy of the evaluation paperwork to the school district superintendent**.
*So the evaluator must give the evaluation paperwork to the parent who will then submit it.
**Most superintendents have named a Home Education Contact to accept and record paperwork on their behalf.
This is important. Why? There are a few reasons:
When an evaluator gives the parent the paperwork to submit, the parent can control the child's privacy and information especially if the paperwork includes additional information that's not required which the parent might wish to blot out.
If a parent disagrees with the results of an evaluation, the parent can do another evaluation with another evaluator and submit those results instead (except in the case of state testing evaluations--those results are automatically submitted and don't allow for submitting another evaluation.)
When parents submit the evaluation, they can time the sending of the form.
Most importantly, having a parent submit the paperwork is the way that Florida law says to do it. It is difficult to push school districts to adhere to Florida law if evaluators and/or parents are not following the details of Florida law.
Passing an Evaluation
Florida law specifies that the evaluation is to verify that the student has made educational progress commensurate with the student's ability.
If using a nationally-normed achievement test or state-mandated testing for the evaluation, results above the 35th percentile are considered passing per the Craig Dickinson Act.
Florida law prohibits the school district from assigning a grade level unless the child participates in a district program and the law specifies that home education itself is not a district program; so public school grade level standards should not be forced upon home education students.
Note that Florida statute 1002.41(1) states that a home education program is registered with the district school superintendent only for the purpose of complying with the state’s attendance requirements. The purpose of the evaluation is, therefore, to verify that the student has been learning and is not truant.
Evaluators & parents do not have to provide test scores to the district. The evaluator can sign a form or document verifying that the scores meet Florida's requirements
An evaluator cannot legally sign off on a test that the evaluator did not administer. On the other hand, an evaluator could do a portfolio review that included test results that the evaluator did not administer.
From Florida statute 1002.41(1)(f):
"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 parent shall select the method of evaluation and shall file a copy of the evaluation annually with the district school superintendent’s office in the county in which the student resides...."
From Florida Statute 1006.15(3)(c)2:
"During the period of participation at a school, the home education student must demonstrate educational progress as required in paragraph (b) in all subjects taken in the home education program by a method of evaluation agreed upon by the parent and the school principal which may include: review of the student’s work by a certified teacher chosen by the parent; grades earned through correspondence; grades earned in courses taken at a Florida College System institution, university, or trade school; standardized test scores above the 35th percentile; or any other method designated in s. 1002.41."
Passing an Evaluation
Portfolio Review Evals
A portfolio review evaluation is supposed to be a review of the records kept of the student's learning and not a test--the evaluator should be verifying that the student has advanced from the beginning of the year. Therefore the evaluator should compare the type of materials, lessons, work done, etc. at the beginning of the year with that at the time of the evaluation. This type of evaluation is not meant to be a quiz or a test.
How is progress shown in a portfolio review evaluation? Educational progress commensurate with ability may be shown in a variety of ways.
Some ways to demonstrate progress include:
The student worked through a majority of some textbooks, workbooks, online curriculum, a scope and sequence, or other materials. (Note that schools rarely finish their materials and home education students should not be held to a higher standard than public schools can manage.)
The student successfully moved to a higher level in curriculum materials during the year (such as moving from 2nd to 3rd grade level).
The student is working on more advanced topics or subjects (such as moving from addition to multiplication or from writing sentences to paragraphs) than at the beginning of the year.
The student shows improved skills (such as improved handwriting and increased reading speed and accuracy as shown in exercises in the records kept) from the beginning of the year.
Passing grades earned in classes taken online, at a homeschool co-op, with a tutor, at a college, etc.
The student regularly worked on educational activities throughout the year (vacations are permitted of course).
Florida law requires a discussion with the student as part of a portfolio review evaluation. A discussion is NOT a quiz nor a test nor an interview. A discussion involves talking over or chatting about. The teacher doing a portfolio review evaluation should talk with the student about the progress seen in the portfolio.
Some evaluators discuss the portfolio with the student while looking it over; others look over the portfolio first and then discuss the progress that was seen.
Nothing in Florida law prevents the parent from being part of the discussion. Likewise, nothing requires the parent to be present. Most evaluators include the parent, as the director of the student's education, in the discussion unless the parent opts not to participate.
Evaluations do not determine grade level while homeschooling.
A parent directs the education and can choose the level and types of materials used by the student.
What if an evaluation is failed?
The parent is to submit the evaluation (except in the case of state testing), and could choose to not submit and instead do and submit a different type of evaluation.
If a failing evaluation is submitted, the student will be placed on academic probation and will not be eligible to participate in public school extracurricular activities.
If the next evaluation (next year) is
also failed, the home education program is terminated and the student must be enrolled in school.
passed, the academic probation ends and all is well.
Where are evaluations to be sent?
Florida law says that documentation such as the Letter of Intent, Letter of Termination, and evaluations are to be sent to the school district superintendent.
On the other hand, every superintendent has named a person or office to process and record paperwork on behalf of the superintendent. The Association of Florida Evaluators recommends that parents send documentation to this Home Education Contact.
Where are evaluations to be sent?
Florida Dept of Education's Home Education FAQ (Question 2) requires districts to confirm receipt of documentation in writing.
The Association of Florida Evaluators recommends that if more than a couple of weeks pass without confirmation received, parents should re-send the evaluation (or other documentation) but if re-sending, send it to both the Home Education Contact and also the Superintendent since the Superintendent is ultimately responsible.