The law requires that a homeschool portfolio be evaluated before it is submitted to the superintendent of schools by June 30. See 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1 (e).
Evaluators often have a number of portfolios they review. It is wise to identify an evaluator very early in the school year and schedule an appointment with the person who will evaluate your portfolio(s) to ensure that the portfolio is not late in being submitted to the school district. It is the responsibility of the parent to pay for any charge by an Evaluators for this service.
The Department does not keep a list of evaluators. One may be found by asking other homeschooling friends, acquaintances or the school district for a recommendation.
The evaluation of the student's educational progress must be annual and written. The evaluation must be based on an interview of the child and a review of the portfolio and accompanying documentation. The evaluation must certify whether or not an appropriate education is occurring and this report from the evaluator must be included in the documentation submitted to the superintendent of schools by June 30. See the Portfolio section of this Home Education website.
An appropriate education is defined in 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1 (a) as:
- A program consisting of instruction in the required subjects (see the Curriculum section)
- The time required in this act (see the Portfolio section)
- The student demonstrates sustained progress in the overall program
There are a number of avenues for individuals to qualify to be evaluators for home education programs. The possibilities are delineated in 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1 (e).
1. Licensed clinical psychologist
2. School psychologist
3. Pennsylvania certified teacher with two years grading experience at the level they evaluate (K-6 and/or 7-12)
4. Nonpublic school teacher or administrator with two years PA teaching experience within the last 10 years at the level they evaluate (K-6 and/or 7-12)
5. Persons with other qualifications, with the consent of the superintendent of the district of residence
NOTE: The supervisor or the spouse of the supervisor of the home education program is not allowed to be the evaluator for their home education program, regardless of any qualifications.
The fifth "other qualifications" is a wide-open door. If the district has confidence in the evaluator’s ability to do a credible job, they may allow that person to evaluate, regardless of degrees or teaching experience.
Teaching experience is defined in 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1 (e) as:
(i) A teacher or administrator who evaluates a portfolio at the elementary level (grades kindergarten through six) shall have at least two years of experience in grading any of the following subjects: English, to include spelling, reading and writing; arithmetic; science; geography; history of the United States and Pennsylvania; and civics.
(ii) A teacher or administrator who evaluates a portfolio at the secondary level (grades seven through twelve) shall have at least two years of experience in grading any of the following subjects: English, to include language, literature, speech, reading and composition; science, to include biology, chemistry and physics; geography; social studies, to include economics, civics, world history, history of the United States and Pennsylvania; foreign language; and mathematics, to include general mathematics, algebra, trigonometry, calculus and geometry.
(iii) As used in this clause, the term "grading" shall mean evaluation of classwork, homework, quizzes, classwork-based tests and prepared tests related to classwork subject matter.
Documenting Evaluator Credentials
The law does not speak to the method by which an evaluator must provide their credentials and the district may require the evaluator to provide documentation.
For the case of certified teachers, the Department has announced coming changes on tracking certification. Here is the verbiage from an August 23, 2010 Penn*Link sent to all LEAs:
We request that the "official" verification of a credential/certificate be done via the website at http://www.education.state.pa.us. Select the "Teachers" button in the middle of the page, and "Teacher Certification System". You can see the current status of a pending application and/or a certificate issued. This page can be printed for your files until the paper certificates are mailed.
The use of the website verification system will be the "official" source for certification verification once the new certification system, the Teacher Information Management System (TIMS), is completed and online. The new system will issue an electronic certificate that may be printed by the school district or the applicant. However, paper documents will no longer be considered the "official" source for verification, the display of the credential on the website will be considered "official". Many states have already moved to electronic certification verification to prevent manipulation or modification of paper credentials and to provide faster processing of credentials.
The new TIMS system is scheduled to be online by June 2011. Paper certificates will no longer be available at this time.
These instructions currently take you to the teacher certification website.
Continuing Education (Act 48)
The law specifically exempts evaluators and private tutors from having to maintain an active status for Act 48 Continuing Professional Development. This means an evaluator does not have to maintain Act 48 hours. See 24 P.S. § 12-1205.1.
A teacher may check their Act 48 status at the PERMS website.
List of Qualified Evaluators
A school district may want to keep a list of those who evaluate in their district, noting the level at which they are qualified to evaluate (elementary, secondary, both). Whenever someone new evaluates in their distict, they could be added to the list. This also would build a handy list for any homeschool family, should the district choose to help a family find an evaluator.