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MD portfolio review - city asking for more than law allows.


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I'm facing my first portfolio review in Baltimore, Maryland (Baltimore City school district).

 

Under Maryland state law, our homeschooling is supposed to "Provide regular, thorough instruction in the studies usually taught in the public schools to children of the same age; Include instruction in English, mathematics, science, social studies, art, music, health, and physical education; and Take place on a regular basis during the school year program and be of sufficient duration to implement the instruction program."

 

The law says we're supposed to keep a portfolio that "Includes relevant materials, such as instructional materials, reading materials, and examples of the child's writings, worksheets, workbooks, creative materials, and tests."

 

I just got our first portfolio review notice from Baltimore City. They have included a "Home Instruction Review Form for Parents." It says:

 

"For each subject please, identify the main text, any supplementary or reference materials used for instruction, and indicate the approximate number of hours of instruction per day. A sample lesson plan should also be attached. Sample assessments should be available for core subjects, and the student's name and date should appear on work samples."

 

It then specifies "reading, language arts, handwriting, spelling, composition, and literature" as separate subject areas, in addition to the subjects specified in Maryland law. Each one asks for "hours per day."

 

I had been planning to supply work samples (or pictures) for each of the eight required subject areas, plus some partial reading lists (books she's read, books we've read to her). We don't use textbooks, except for math. I don't have lesson plans either, although I do keep a record of what we've done each day. Usually.

 

I don't think that the law allows them to ask for lesson plans, hours per day, all the supplementary/reference materials used, a breakdown of English instruction into six separate subject areas, etc. The law certainly doesn't say that we have to fill out their form. But I'm afraid that the review won't go well if I go in saying that I don't intend to provide more than the law requires me to provide.

 

Can anyone provide suggestions, advice, or experience?

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I would bring a copy of the homeschool law with you to this meeting, along with the portfolio. Nothing else. I would highlight the requirements and have a letter in hand stating that the law says you are only required to record "x" and do not have to comply with "y". Our school district in PA tried to require us to do more than the commonwealth wanted and all it took was a letter of explanation and the highlighted sections in the law. Are you with an "umbrella" program. My friends in MD are using an umbrella program and they never have to answer directly to the district.

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Oh my gosh, worse and worse. The reviewer just sent along "suggestions for preparing the portfolio for review."

 

Portfolios must include:

 

* a lesson plan or schedule;

* list of main texts including workbooks, reference books,and web

addresses etc. used for instruction with a selected list of student reading

material;

* evidence of students' independent reading including book reports,

summaries, or art work;

* samples of writing, worksheets, creative materials, tests ;

* adequate work samples(at least one month) for each subject throughout the period of instruction;

* names and dates on each piece of work with the identified subject area

and;

* sample assessment tools that document mastery of instruction.

There is NOTHING in Maryland law that says we need to document "mastery of instruction." It says we need to document that instruction is PROVIDED.
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Wow and yikes! I know people here in Maryland who have had trouble with county reviews (which seem to vary greatly depending on who the reviewer is), but I don't know anyone who has been reviewed in the city.

 

It seems they are stepping way over several lines. I think you are right to question the information they are requesting rather than just to blindly comply, but I also agree with you when you say "But I'm afraid that the review won't go well if I go in saying that I don't intend to provide more than the law requires me to provide."

 

Wish I had advice, we use an umbrella group so our review is completely different. I can tell you we do not provide many of the things to our oversight reviewer that being asked of you.

 

:grouphug: as you work through this. Keep us posted.

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I would bring a copy of the homeschool law with you to this meeting, along with the portfolio. Nothing else. I would highlight the requirements and have a letter in hand stating that the law says you are only required to record "x" and do not have to comply with "y". Our school district in PA tried to require us to do more than the commonwealth wanted and all it took was a letter of explanation and the highlighted sections in the law. Are you with an "umbrella" program. My friends in MD are using an umbrella program and they never have to answer directly to the district.

 

:iagree:

 

I would find an umbrella school to use. My umbrella doesn't make me jump through hoops and it's a lot better than dealing with the school district.

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In PA we often 1) include a copy of the law in the front of the portfolio, 2) itemize on the portfolio cover the items that are required and indicate that they are included, 3) Include a cover letter re-stating what is required and that it is included, 4) label everything with the relevant phrase from the law (e.g. the log says "LOG" at the top). The idea is to make it absolutely clear to anyone reading the portfolio that you know the law, and you are complying with it, as well as to educate them about what the law actually requires.

 

Hsers often say "I would be happy to comply with that if the law requires it. It was my understanding that I only needed to do x, y, and z. Can you show me where in the law a, b, and c are required?"

 

We also often submit a "disposable portfolio" - copies of the required items, so that we are not risking them losing the originals. (Our ports can languish for *months* at the SD offices - we submit in June and often don't get them back until late August.) Some folks mail their "disposable portfolio"; others prefer to submit in person and get a receipt.

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We also often submit a "disposable portfolio" - copies of the required items, so that we are not risking them losing the originals. (Our ports can languish for *months* at the SD offices - we submit in June and often don't get them back until late August.) Some folks mail their "disposable portfolio"; others prefer to submit in person and get a receipt.

 

Just wanted to add: I attended a class on portfolio development (for a different state) and she suggested doing the disposable portfolio and hand it in, in person!

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Thanks for the replies and support!

 

In Maryland you don't leave the portfolio - reviews are face-to-face (usually at the local library) and take 30-45 minutes. So, for better or for worse, I will be there in person to defend and explain our homeschooling program and I will be taking our materials home with me. Putting a copy of the law in the front of the portfolio is a good idea.

 

HSLDA is not an option for us, but I can contact the head of the Maryland Home Education Association. He's been involved in homeschooling since 1980, so I'm sure there's nothing he hasn't seen before.

 

It's daunting to hear from several people that Baltimore City is known to be difficult. The worst-case scenario is that we fail the review and immediately join an umbrella group instead. That's not so bad, but it would seriously annoy me to have to shell out $$$ for an umbrella group solely because I couldn't make the school district follow the law.

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I'm in Anne Arundel County, I've never had a problem with my reviews.

 

I've never seen that extended list you have, but I have always known that I need to bring my lesson plans/schedule. Just my weekly chart that I use to keep us on track... I have one for every week and it just lists out what we plan to do each day of the week. I have never had to tell them how much "time" we spend on school per day, or week, or anything.

 

The "list" of texts is basically just a list of the books you are using. For my first review I was SO nervous that I brought every book we used in, LOL, they thought I was insane! The lady said, "All you need is to type up and print out a sheet that lists the books (and authors) you are using.

 

I don't really do the "one per month" thing. I bring the whole Horizons Math workbook, the whole Explode the Code book, Writing with Ease book, etc.

 

I have never seen that "Mastery of Instruction" thing...

 

Again, I have never had any issues, whatsoever, with my review. We go in, tell them what curriculum we use, show them the portfolio and we are out in about 10 minutes.

 

I have heard some PG county moms complain about stuff over there though, so I'm guessing that whoever is the head of the Homeschool oversight in PG and Baltimore counties might not have their act together.

 

Here in Maryland, I have been told that the only things they are looking for are 1) Unschoolers and 2) Neglect. As long as you show continual work, you should be OK. Unschoolers would not do well, at all, in a MD review; so I have been told...

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This is what we (in AA county) are sent to explain what we need for our Portfolio's:

 

 

 

HOME SCHOOL REVIEWS with the AACPS HOME SCHOOL OFFICE

 

 

This information has been included to provide the COMAR regulations and guidelines that will be followed by our Home School Program / Portfolio reviewers during the program review process.

Guidelines in the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR 13A.10.01)

Purpose: To provide procedures for determining if a child who is participating in a home school program is receiving regular, thorough instruction during the school year in the curriculum subjects usually taught in the public schools to children 5 years old and under the age of 16 years old.

Requirements Home schooling shall:

1. provide regular, thorough instruction in the studies usually taught in the public schools to children of the same age.

2. include instruction in English (Language Arts/Reading), Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Art, Music, PE and Health.

3. occur on a regular basis during the school year and be of sufficient duration to implement the instructional program.

Portfolio / Program Reviews

To be judged in compliance, the portfolio must reflect the provision of regular, thorough instruction in the required subjects,

throughout the school year by including dated, relevant materials such as instructional materials; reading materials; and examples of the student’s writings, worksheets, workbooks, creative materials, and assessments in each subject area.

 

 

General Recommendations or Suggestions Documenting regular, thorough instruction of sufficient duration

· Give evidence of a regular schedule or planning book / log that records your instruction plan for the year.

· Document examples of instructional materials (curriculum, assessments, workbooks, student work, drills, computer printouts, pe logs, music practice books, activities, etc.)

· When the curriculum does not follow a prepared text or course, provide an outline of topics or content that was covered

· Describe how instruction in each area is structured (textbook, correspondence school, art lessons, participation in structured sports program each session, supplemental classes or tutorials, tutors, etc.)

Student Portfolio Documentation Recommendations

· Adequate examples (1 sample per week) for each subject, throughout the period of instruction

· Arrange materials by subject area.

· Each piece of student work/documentation should be identified and dated

· Textbooks are not necessary if documentation of curriculum content is provided.

· For Workbook series:

Alpha Omega Lifepaks (provide table of content, first and last workbook completed in each subject area)

· For Online Computer Curriculum: Computers will not be used as part of the review process

Print out course/subject table of contents and 2 or 3 lessons for each subject area, during the review time period

Additional student work could include assessments, student notes (notebook) and practice worksheets.

· For Correspondence School / Distance High School Courses:

Provide documentation for the required 7 (seven) courses/ subjects, which may include not purchased through the Correspondence School or Distance Learning School. Provide student work for each subject / course as prescribed above.

Documentation from the instructional resource being used. (transcript / grade documentation)

REVIEW PROCESS:

· An appointment is scheduled, with the Home School Office, for a date, time and location on the AACPS Option Review Schedule provided.

· A reviewer, from the Home School Office, will meet with you to conduct the review evaluation. The purpose is to validate that the home school information being provided for your child is meeting the requirements of receiving regular, thorough instruction during the school year, in the curriculum subjects usually taught in the public schools.

· An evaluation form will be completed, documenting the curriculum being used; plans; schedule; instructional materials; student work; computer support; and activities presented during the review process.

 

 

That's it. Is this similar to what you received?

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Here is the link to the COMAR regulations from the STATE Board of Education:

 

http://www.aacps.org/homeschooling/regulations.asp

 

 

And here is a nice little tidbit:

 

F. ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS: A local school system may not impose additional requirements for Home Schooling programs other than those in these regulations.

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I don't know about in Baltimore, Rivka, but in Montgomery Co. this is a semi-annual, slightly contentious discussion every single go around on the county listserv. *sigh* Obviously, I don't have personal experience with MD reviews, but the basic argument that arises is that some people feel you should just give them what they want - especially if it's not a big deal, even if it isn't exactly in the law (a book list is often mentioned). Others feel like you should do the absolute minimum, basically on principle or so that you don't unintentionally make it harder for the next person (who may not have those things on hand and, after all, isn't actually required to).

 

I have to say, some of the stuff you're listing goes way above and beyond anything I've heard of any of my MD friends having to bring to reviews or even complain about on MHLN. If you're up for it, I say stand your ground. And good luck.

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Also, I just read the Baltimore City PS page and the list you pasted, is under:

 

Suggestions for Preparing the Portfolio

 

and then it says:

 

We strongly recommend the portfolio include...

 

It does not say REQUIRED. The only thing you are REQUIRED to show is regular, thorough instruction....

 

So, my advice to you is to be very organized and very confident, but polite.

 

Have lists of whatever books/programs you are using.

 

Show your kids work, bring lots of dated samples.

 

Have it all listed out in an outline, so that YOU have something to read off of.....

 

You should be saying... "Here is what we do for History... Here is what we do for Math.... and here are some samples, etc. etc. just go down your outline and answer any questions the reviewer may have.

 

It should go OK.... remember you just need PROOF of regular and thorough instruction.

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I don't know about in Baltimore, Rivka, but in Montgomery Co. this is a semi-annual, slightly contentious discussion every single go around on the county listserv. *sigh* Obviously, I don't have personal experience with MD reviews, but the basic argument that arises is that some people feel you should just give them what they want - especially if it's not a big deal, even if it isn't exactly in the law (a book list is often mentioned). Others feel like you should do the absolute minimum, basically on principle or so that you don't unintentionally make it harder for the next person (who may not have those things on hand and, after all, isn't actually required to).

 

I have to say, some of the stuff you're listing goes way above and beyond anything I've heard of any of my MD friends having to bring to reviews or even complain about on MHLN. If you're up for it, I say stand your ground. And good luck.

 

I subscribe to this listserve and I also just had my first county review a few weeks ago. To me, it is silly to try and go out of your way to NOT provide things just for the principle of being minimalist and proving a point. If you have a schedule, bring it! If you don't, than you don't. Then when the reviewer asks what your schedule is, you can confidently say you don't have as set schedule as each day you do something different. Then tell them what you do. Show the examples of work that you brought, and based on what I saw at my review, your best bet is to just be confident. If you present yourself professionally and confidently, the reviewer will have nothing to argue with. You know you aren't breaking the law, so take in what you have, smile, don't cause a stink, and you will blow them away! :)

 

I can't tell you how many squeemish people I saw in the review room, looking down not making eye contact, wiggling in their seats. One particular reviewer was trying to learn more about what the family did to study health. The parent could have sat up, looked the reviewer in the eye, and said "We discuss and maintain oral hygiene, eat nutritious meals and discuss why we do so, wash our hands, sneeze into our elbow.." and whatever else they wanted to say and the reviewer would have been happy. Instead, the people were dodging the question, lots of ummmssss uhhhhssss, saying, "I didn't know we needed that". I think it is because of this sort of thing that the county is asking for the extra materials/documentation, not to be a pain in the butt or REQUIRE extra, but because it helps the parent to present themselves in a compliant way. I don't think you are dinged if you don't have everything formally written out in a list or schedule. Again, I just think it helps make it an easier review if you do have them.

 

Just my two cents. :)

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I don't know if it would help, but some folks in PA write an overview/summary of what they've done, often briefly discussing each subject required by law. The summary is not required, but it is a way to show the subject requirements have been met without having to generate a ton of samples or keep a detailed daily log. I have some example summaries here - they may give you a feel for how various folks present what they've done; many of them are more on the relaxed side of things. We have to show that we've done the required subjects for the time required in the law. Most folks do the time thing with some kind of simple attendance chart- 180+ days checked off on a calendar. A variety of attendance calendars are here.

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I subscribe to this listserve and I also just had my first county review a few weeks ago. To me, it is silly to try and go out of your way to NOT provide things just for the principle of being minimalist and proving a point. If you have a schedule, bring it! If you don't, than you don't. Then when the reviewer asks what your schedule is, you can confidently say you don't have as set schedule as each day you do something different. Then tell them what you do. Show the examples of work that you brought, and based on what I saw at my review, your best bet is to just be confident. If you present yourself professionally and confidently, the reviewer will have nothing to argue with. You know you aren't breaking the law, so take in what you have, smile, don't cause a stink, and you will blow them away! :)

 

I can't tell you how many squeemish people I saw in the review room, looking down not making eye contact, wiggling in their seats. One particular reviewer was trying to learn more about what the family did to study health. The parent could have sat up, looked the reviewer in the eye, and said "We discuss and maintain oral hygiene, eat nutritious meals and discuss why we do so, wash our hands, sneeze into our elbow.." and whatever else they wanted to say and the reviewer would have been happy. Instead, the people were dodging the question, lots of ummmssss uhhhhssss, saying, "I didn't know we needed that". I think it is because of this sort of thing that the county is asking for the extra materials/documentation, not to be a pain in the butt or REQUIRE extra, but because it helps the parent to present themselves in a compliant way. I don't think you are dinged if you don't have everything formally written out in a list or schedule. Again, I just think it helps make it an easier review if you do have them.

 

Just my two cents. :)

 

Please don't think I am trying to pick on you. :D You said you just had your first review so I am assuming (tell me if I am wrong) you are new to "formal" homeschooling.

 

But it is a slippery slope to give them what they are asking for if it is not required. Then, the non-requirements become the norm...and the people who provide the requirements look/appear to be non-compliant.

 

Do you see what I am mean?

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Please don't think I am trying to pick on you. :D You said you just had your first review so I am assuming (tell me if I am wrong) you are new to "formal" homeschooling.

 

But it is a slippery slope to give them what they are asking for if it is not required. Then, the non-requirements become the norm...and the people who provide the requirements look/appear to be non-compliant.

 

Do you see what I am mean?

 

Not taking it as a pick at all! It was MY first review, yes, but I am not new to formal homeschooling. Between friends and family who have been doing this for a long time and talking to them about the ebbs and flows of county oversight, I am only trying to pass on the wisdom that I have learned. I am certainly not endorsing show up with each non-requirement in hand, but suggesting that the county is recommending it for ease of conversation and giving the parent useful tools so they are not caught off guard when, for example, the reviewer asks what you do for health (which seemed to be something that catches a lot of people without anything to say). I think it is unfair for minimalist folks to make the "overachievers" or those who keep lots of records and use them to keep themselves organized feel guilty as if they are wronging the community. To each his own, is what I am saying. :)

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Rivka,

 

Don't answer the questions that are not a part of the law. I am in MD and have gotten that form, too. Bring COMAR with you.

 

TBH, this is why I "escaped" by using the umbrella option. I've only had two reviews by the county board and they were both HORRID. Revolting. If I were more of an activist, I'd keep using the county and just keep bucking their creeping legislation, but I'm generally a weenie, so I use the escape clause, err, umbrella option.

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I think it is unfair for minimalist folks to make the "overachievers" or those who keep lots of records and use them to keep themselves organized feel guilty as if they are wronging the community. To each his own, is what I am saying. :)

 

Remember, though, that just because one keeps extensive records for various reasons, does not mean one must/should share them all with the school district. Yes, sometimes it might make sense to just use something you already have on hand for a portfolio review, but sometimes it is wise to create something more tailored to the law's requirements. If you raise the bar too high, you may put yourself in a difficult position in the future if you have a year where family crisis, illness, a new baby, or a quirky child mean you have to take a different approach to homeschooling that doesn't lend itself to producing lots of school-ish documentation.

 

...based on what I saw at my review, your best bet is to just be confident. If you present yourself professionally and confidently, the reviewer will have nothing to argue with. You know you aren't breaking the law, so take in what you have, smile, don't cause a stink, and you will blow them away! :)

 

 

Agreed. And there is no substitute for reading your state's law yourself, so that you know exactly what is and what is not required.

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I think it is unfair for minimalist folks to make the "overachievers" or those who keep lots of records and use them to keep themselves organized feel guilty as if they are wronging the community. To each his own, is what I am saying. :)

 

I am a record keeper and use my plans and records to keep our homeschool on track with the goals we set. However, if I had to do a county review (which I don't because we use an umbrella), I would not take those records that exceeded the law to my review. My belief is the more we willingly comply with requirements that exceed the law the less "to each his own" will be tolerated.

 

My general impression from those I know who have used county reviewers in Frederick, Carroll and Baltimore counties, is that the reviewers are creeping into territory that law does not require.

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Yikes! That is quite an extensive list, far more than the one we receive in Montgomery county, which I always thought was one of the pickier ones here in MD!

 

For whatever it's worth, I don't take every thing "suggested" in our review letter. Personally, I think viewing that list as containing options or suggestions might help you. The COMAR regs require we prove "regular and thorough" instruction in 8 areas (and all those subdivisions of language arts--again, to me, just suggestions of what you could include). Some people may use a schedule to prove regular and thorough. Some people may show hours. Some people may bring a textbook list. I think a couple of samples makes sense. But all of that? Absolutely not.

 

As to the whole "make them happy" approach, there's probably a middle ground. No, you shouldn't go above and beyond what the law requires, but the law is definitely vague. Honestly, I take two samples per each subject area, usually dated from different months, and I mention approximately how many lessons or chapters we've covered through the semester. I don't think that actually proves "regular and thorough," as I'm not showing them each piece (and therefore, I could be making it all up, for all they know). I really try not to view the review as a confrontation. It's certainly tempting at times. But that's just my two cents.

 

I definitely agree that if you can contact MHRN (I believe that's the overall Maryland Yahoo group) as well as any Baltimore county Yahoo group. They should be able to help you with more specifically what you can expect. If you can get recommendations for a specific reviewer (presuming you're allowed to request one, that is), try that, too.

 

Best wishes!

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This is our eighth year of homeschooling in Maryland, and we have always gone through the county for our reviews. A couple of years ago, the reviewer asked us to complete a sheet similar to what it sounds like they are asking you for. I filled it in by simply writing "See portfolio" in each blank. The reviewer was fine with that - I think he realized that they were asking for more than they were allowed.

 

When I do the kids' portfolios, I put a bibliography sheet in the front which lists the texts/resources we use for our subjects. Then I have dividers for each of the subjects, and I put a few samples of work from the beginning, middle, and end of the review period. Our reviews have always been approved as 'shows acceptable evidence of instruction'.

 

Hope that helps!

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Thank you to everyone for your valuable responses, and especially to the Marylanders who have shared their experiences and the techniques they use to prepare the portfolio and get through reviews. It's been helpful to hear everyone's perspectives, and also to have my own thoughts clarified and expanded by my reactions to your posts.

 

From the discussion here and also on a local list, I realized that there are two classes of non-required requirements they might try to impose: (1) things which put a burden on me at reporting time but don't affect the way we homeschool, like full lists of books (OMG, do you have any idea how many books we go through, with a literature-based curriculum and a five-year-old?!), and (2) things which would change the way we homeschool, like if they really do attempt to insist on "assessments which document mastery." Those different categories might call for different responses from me.

 

This discussion has also focused my attention on one phrase in the Maryland law: "regular, thorough instruction." I think their form and their list of portfolio "musts" significantly overstep the bounds of the law, but I've been thinking about what I would be willing to supply to provide assurance that our instruction is regular and thorough. So that's a useful direction for my thinking.

 

Our review will be the first week of March, so I have time to think about it and incorporate any other advice that people have to share. Thank you again!

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From the discussion here and also on a local list, I realized that there are two classes of non-required requirements they might try to impose: (1) things which put a burden on me at reporting time but don't affect the way we homeschool, like full lists of books (OMG, do you have any idea how many books we go through, with a literature-based curriculum and a five-year-old?!), and (2) things which would change the way we homeschool, like if they really do attempt to insist on "assessments which document mastery." Those different categories might call for different responses from me.

 

This discussion has also focused my attention on one phrase in the Maryland law: "regular, thorough instruction." I think their form and their list of portfolio "musts" significantly overstep the bounds of the law, but I've been thinking about what I would be willing to supply to provide assurance that our instruction is regular and thorough. So that's a useful direction for my thinking.

 

Sounds like you're on the right track. In PA, we talk a lot about the idea that if the law seems to be changing the way you homeschool, it's time to go back and re-read the law. The idea is that if you are doing right by your child, education-wise, then you just need to find a way to document what you're doing, rather than letting the documentation drive the schooling.

 

"Assessments which document mastery" could be as simple as stating "Johnny is independently reading books such as Go Dog Go and Hop on Pop", or 3 math worksheets including a variety of problem types (an "end of year cumulative test", if you will, which may or may not be from the curriculum you used (if you used one) and may or may not have been given as a formal "test", or a paragraph/essay/report on a particular topic in science or history (documenting writing skills, spelling skills, and knowledge of the subject matter).

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I'm in Frederick County which has never asked for anything like you've described. I was super nervous for our first one but it was so laid back I've relaxed a lot.

I know a lot of people use umbrella's in MD but Fred Co is probably one of the easier counties to homeschool I can't see paying for an umbrella. We've had 2 different reviewers and both of them have just quickly looked through our stuff. I try to date stuff if I remember but a lot of stuff isn't dated and I've never been asked how many hours we do schoolwork or anything like that.

 

I've never had much for younger kids (especially at the ages of 5 or 6) and I think reviewers expect that their will be less written work for younger kids. Last time I brought a lap book in my twins had made and that's all I had for History.

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Yikes, that sounds bad. Even though you are not an HSLDA member, I would contact them and let them know this district is overstepping its legal bounds. They will let their members know and follow up to make sure things are righted, which in the end will help you out even if they are not able to advise you directly.

 

Good luck!

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I subscribe to this listserve and I also just had my first county review a few weeks ago. To me, it is silly to try and go out of your way to NOT provide things just for the principle of being minimalist and proving a point. If you have a schedule, bring it! If you don't, than you don't. Then when the reviewer asks what your schedule is, you can confidently say you don't have as set schedule as each day you do something different. Then tell them what you do. Show the examples of work that you brought, and based on what I saw at my review, your best bet is to just be confident. If you present yourself professionally and confidently, the reviewer will have nothing to argue with. You know you aren't breaking the law, so take in what you have, smile, don't cause a stink, and you will blow them away! :)

 

I can't tell you how many squeemish people I saw in the review room, looking down not making eye contact, wiggling in their seats. One particular reviewer was trying to learn more about what the family did to study health. The parent could have sat up, looked the reviewer in the eye, and said "We discuss and maintain oral hygiene, eat nutritious meals and discuss why we do so, wash our hands, sneeze into our elbow.." and whatever else they wanted to say and the reviewer would have been happy. Instead, the people were dodging the question, lots of ummmssss uhhhhssss, saying, "I didn't know we needed that". I think it is because of this sort of thing that the county is asking for the extra materials/documentation, not to be a pain in the butt or REQUIRE extra, but because it helps the parent to present themselves in a compliant way. I don't think you are dinged if you don't have everything formally written out in a list or schedule. Again, I just think it helps make it an easier review if you do have them.

 

Just my two cents. :)

 

I completely agree about being confident, polite, direct, courteous, professional. You should be proud of what you have accomplished and have nothing to hide or fear. You should not allow yourself to be intimidated by bureaucrats/regulators, nor do you want to intentionally antagonize them.

 

On the other hand, I would never give them any additional information that is not required by law. I wouldn't do it just to get along because it sets a bad precedent and can contribute to hs rights for everyone eventually being eroded. And when you willingly hand over additional information, you are giving them more rights over you, more opportunities to find fault with your work should they (or someone down the road) be inclined to do so.

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"regular, thorough instruction." I think their form and their list of portfolio "musts" significantly overstep the bounds of the law, but I've been thinking about what I would be willing to supply to provide assurance that our instruction is regular and thorough. So that's a useful direction for my thinking.

 

Our review will be the first week of March, so I have time to think about it and incorporate any other advice that people have to share. Thank you again!

 

I think this is *the* phrase that causes the most difficulty. It's the one I've mulled over in my mind a lot, when trying to put myself in the shoes of the reviewer. For example, if I bring in our Math-U-See student workbook, well, that obviously demonstrates "regular, thorough instruction," because it would not be possible to have 15 chapters filled out if they weren't receiving regular, thorough instruction. But, obviously, other subjects are not as easily documented, though you may be spending as much time and effort on them, too.

 

For myself, it ended up informing too much of my homeschooling, because the need to "document" was constantly in the back of my mind. My reviewer was very schoolishly-minded and that caused a lot of difference of opinion. She could not understand combining the teaching of history between a sixth and fourth grader. She criticized spelling mistakes or imperfect handwriting, "His a looks like a q; she spelled basically wrong." Even our Math-U-See, which is the most traditional thing we use, drew her ire because she didn't see "Grade 4" on the book. She asked if I had cancelled checks to prove they took swimming lessons and told me next time I should bring my library receipts.

 

I know in Carroll County, there are a couple of desirable reviewers that pass nearly every one, but there are also reviewers such as I received, that nobody wants to get. I found that that uncertainty was not working for me, which is why I went back to the umbrella.

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I would contact them and let them know this district is overstepping its legal bounds.

 

HSLDA knows this, although it couldn't hurt to mention that those forms are still going out. HSLDA has addressed this before and urges homeschoolers not to comply with these unrequired requests.

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I think this is *the* phrase that causes the most difficulty. It's the one I've mulled over in my mind a lot, when trying to put myself in the shoes of the reviewer. For example, if I bring in our Math-U-See student workbook, well, that obviously demonstrates "regular, thorough instruction," because it would not be possible to have 15 chapters filled out if they weren't receiving regular, thorough instruction. But, obviously, other subjects are not as easily documented, though you may be spending as much time and effort on them, too.

 

For myself, it ended up informing too much of my homeschooling, because the need to "document" was constantly in the back of my mind. My reviewer was very schoolishly-minded and that caused a lot of difference of opinion. She could not understand combining the teaching of history between a sixth and fourth grader. She criticized spelling mistakes or imperfect handwriting, "His a looks like a q; she spelled basically wrong." Even our Math-U-See, which is the most traditional thing we use, drew her ire because she didn't see "Grade 4" on the book. She asked if I had cancelled checks to prove they took swimming lessons and told me next time I should bring my library receipts.

 

I know in Carroll County, there are a couple of desirable reviewers that pass nearly every one, but there are also reviewers such as I received, that nobody wants to get. I found that that uncertainty was not working for me, which is why I went back to the umbrella.

 

Holy cow. I thought that woman melted when Dorothy threw the bucket of water on her! :lol:

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