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goldenecho

California Homeschoolers - Some Questions

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My husband just got offered a job in CA, and if we move there I am trying to decide what homeschooling route to take: charter, or register as a private school. My son is 10, and about a grade behind in math and two grades behind in reading. He also may have dyslexia...we were planning on getting him tested right before my husband lost his job. The extra money available through a charter to spend on curriculum and supplies sounds nice, and I've heard from some California homeschoolers that the charter they use doesn't interfere at all with their homeschool choices UNLESS their child tests under grade level, which my child would.    So, I'm wondering exactly what that interference would look like?  Has anyone here worked through a charter in California and had their child test under grade level.  What happened  Does it make a difference if they have a learning disability ?  Does that change how things are handled?  If you don't like the interference can you just switch to the "register homeschool as a private school" option?  If you were in my situation, which route would you take?

 

(Coming from Texas where we have pretty much no help/no interference).

Edited by goldenecho

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We have homeschooled through a charter (pulled out 2 years ago but are planning to put the 6th grader back in this upcoming year) but not my SN child. If your child tests below grade level, they will have to complete online test prep lessons daily. Our old charter uses something called "Study Island" and the charter we will be with next year uses iXL.

 

If your child gets put on an IEP, you can use the charter stipend to pay for Barton tutoring.

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Thanks so much.  This is so helpful.  Daily online test prep lessons sounds like a deal breaker, though the possibility of having Barton tutoring paid for would sure be nice. I was hoping it would be something more like a conference with someone and some personalized suggested interventions...I'd be open to something like that and might even welcome it so long as there was some flexibility in which interventions we chose, but daily online test prep stuff sounds awful.

 

 

We have homeschooled through a charter (pulled out 2 years ago but are planning to put the 6th grader back in this upcoming year) but not my SN child. If your child tests below grade level, they will have to complete online test prep lessons daily. Our old charter uses something called "Study Island" and the charter we will be with next year uses iXL.

 

If your child gets put on an IEP, you can use the charter stipend to pay for Barton tutoring.

 

 

Edited by goldenecho

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I think it varies a lot from charter to charter, and then from one supervising teacher to another. My teacher is a personal friend, so she lets me have a lot of leeway. Our school does not have any requirement to be "at grade level" w/testing. They do want to see some progress from year to year, but that's it. 

 

My school also allows me to check Barton out of their special ed resource room even though my daughter is not in special ed. But other schools don't allow my friends to purchase Barton w/their funds unless the student is in special ed. So it varies.

 

You could probably find the charters local to the area where you'd live and look up reviews on them. Try even looking in the WTM forums. Almost all my friends are in charters, and I'd say that if you are a strong but positive advocate for your child, you will be fine.  When you're calling around/talking to schools, tell them about your son up front and ask them what they would have you/him do.

 

In general it is no big deal to pull out of a charter and switch to private homeschooling. I did it once in fact, only stayed in for 6 weeks. But this charter I've been with for 4.5 years and it's been very positive. 

 

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Hi! I have been h/s-ing in CA for 12 years. We school through a homeschooling organization (used to be called an ISP, not sure what the term is now). Our school has us turn in a course of study annually, maintains report cards, generates high school transcripts, administers yearly standardized testing, and offers ongoing support through counselors and through twice-monthly Class Days.

 

My youngest son has learning disabilities. This past year we learned we could access IEP testing through our public school system's Parentally Placed Private School Services. They offer evaluation to all private school students, which includes homeschoolers. They were fantastic with my son and I and there was never any of the tension you might expect. In fact, they told me he was doing much better at home with me than anything they could offer through the public school system. Their findings were quite helpful to me, bc I needed some labels and specific recemmendations for what my son struggles with. The case manager is available for phone consultation if need be, and they will re-test him in three years.

 

I hope this is helpful for you!

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I do not recommend using a home study charter for children with unremedited learning disabilities.  We tried (again) with a charter this last fall and it continued to be an exercise in futility.  The thing to remember is that these charters are, first and foremost, public schools.  

 

Our older daughter has diagnosed learning disabilities in written expression and math.  Because the testing was done privately and not through the public school system, she received no accommodations and was expected to "prove" that she needed to be evaluated by the school to get accommodations.  She had to "prove" it by failing their efforts at remediation for six months.  (How about I just show you the psych report that shows the diagnoses?  No?  You prefer asinine hoop jumping?  Yay, bureaucracy!)

 

Meanwhile, there is MAJOR pressure to "get caught up."  My philosophy is "slow progress is still progress."  The school's philosophy is that if the progress isn't fast enough to get the student scoring average on their tests then it just means there needs to be MORE pressure and MORE remediation.  We had monthly timed assessments in English, math, and reading (actually, this was for both kids).

 

If you skip the home study programs and just homeschool the traditional way it'll feel almost identical to how you do things in TX.  The only difference is that you have to fill out a brief form online every October.  That's it.  

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I forgot my favorite part.  She was expected to work through grade level test prep materials (math).  I point out that she's nowhere near grade level in math, and it's a waste of time and money to have her try to use this book.  They say - I kid you not - "We know, she won't know how to do any of the problems, but at least she'll be familiar with what they look like."  And THAT sums up the anti-logic of the public school's SLD/remediation philosophy.

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I think it really depends on your school district, the charter school, the teacher...everything. In my area, there are several "independent learning" charter schools - which basically means you teach your kids at home, but are still part of the local school district. These charter schools have particular requirements for kids performing under grade level or who have an iep - much like the others posted above. They are very strict, and very school district controlled.

 

However, there is at least one charter school available in my area that actually falls under the jurisdiction of a selpa, rather than the local school district. For some reason, it's much more relaxed and parent-driven than the other homeschool charter schools - at least in my area. If your child needs curriculum under grade level, or above grade level, you simply provide the teacher with a written statement telling why - at least with our general ed teacher. You do have the option of using something called Star360, which is a quick online assessment, but it's not required for any student. If your child places below grade level, you have the option of daily online lessons under the supervision of a special ed teacher, but again, it's an optional.

 

My son has an iep, and receives multiple services through his charter school - all online, which he prefers. Part of the reason I moved from homeschooling through a private affidavit to this charter school was because they thoroughly support any style/method of education, including "unschooling."

 

So, others will have totally different experiences and requirements - it really depends on your district and the charter school. I'd highly suggest talking to a variety of homeschoolers in the area you are moving to. And yes, if you don't like the charter school you enrolled with, you can withdraw and do the private affidavit option at anytime (may have to give notice to the school, but the private affidavit can be filed anytime). I homeschooled under the private affidavit option for 3 years, then halfway through the 3rd year, enrolled in the charter school I mentioned. I made this move simply because private affidavit does not qualify for services in most school districts in CA, and I needed some help figuring out how best to help my son. If you think your child may need services, keep that in mind. It may be worth a year or two of jumping through their requirements to get the help you need. Unless they change the law, you will be able to withdraw and go private affidavit anytime you are ready.

 

Good luck!

 

Edited to add: in CA, you can opt out of all state standardized testing. The schools don't want you to because that's how they get funding, but it's the parent's right to opt out. The only testing I couldn't opt out of was the physical fitness test that's done in 5th, 7th, and 9th grades. Not sure why...

Edited by AkitaMom
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I am with you ... "slow progress is still progress."   I've chosen not to push because love of learning was more important than rate of academic learning--just kept steady at it at a level that wasn't overwhelming for my child.  I don't want to mess that up by putting him in a high pressure situation.

 

I do not recommend using a home study charter for children with unremedited learning disabilities.  We tried (again) with a charter this last fall and it continued to be an exercise in futility.  The thing to remember is that these charters are, first and foremost, public schools.  

 

Our older daughter has diagnosed learning disabilities in written expression and math.  Because the testing was done privately and not through the public school system, she received no accommodations and was expected to "prove" that she needed to be evaluated by the school to get accommodations.  She had to "prove" it by failing their efforts at remediation for six months.  (How about I just show you the psych report that shows the diagnoses?  No?  You prefer asinine hoop jumping?  Yay, bureaucracy!)

 

Meanwhile, there is MAJOR pressure to "get caught up."  My philosophy is "slow progress is still progress."  The school's philosophy is that if the progress isn't fast enough to get the student scoring average on their tests then it just means there needs to be MORE pressure and MORE remediation.  We had monthly timed assessments in English, math, and reading (actually, this was for both kids).

 

If you skip the home study programs and just homeschool the traditional way it'll feel almost identical to how you do things in TX.  The only difference is that you have to fill out a brief form online every October.  That's it.  

 

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This was very helpful.  I am happy to hear there are some charters out there like this.

 

Can you explain more what "SELPA" is?   Just one of the terminologies it looks like I'll want to know when we go out there.

 

I'm thinking right now about starting as a private affidavit and then looking into charters to see if any fit our needs in stead of jumping right into one (it will give me time to see what's available in the area we're moving too).

 

Do you know if most independent study charters regional or state-wide? 

 

 

I think it really depends on your school district, the charter school, the teacher...everything. In my area, there are several "independent learning" charter schools - which basically means you teach your kids at home, but are still part of the local school district. These charter schools have particular requirements for kids performing under grade level or who have an iep - much like the others posted above. They are very strict, and very school district controlled.

However, there is at least one charter school available in my area that actually falls under the jurisdiction of a selpa, rather than the local school district. For some reason, it's much more relaxed and parent-driven than the other homeschool charter schools - at least in my area. If your child needs curriculum under grade level, or above grade level, you simply provide the teacher with a written statement telling why - at least with our general ed teacher. You do have the option of using something called Star360, which is a quick online assessment, but it's not required for any student. If your child places below grade level, you have the option of daily online lessons under the supervision of a special ed teacher, but again, it's an optional.

My son has an iep, and receives multiple services through his charter school - all online, which he prefers. Part of the reason I moved from homeschooling through a private affidavit to this charter school was because they thoroughly support any style/method of education, including "unschooling."

So, others will have totally different experiences and requirements - it really depends on your district and the charter school. I'd highly suggest talking to a variety of homeschoolers in the area you are moving to. And yes, if you don't like the charter school you enrolled with, you can withdraw and do the private affidavit option at anytime (may have to give notice to the school, but the private affidavit can be filed anytime). I homeschooled under the private affidavit option for 3 years, then halfway through the 3rd year, enrolled in the charter school I mentioned. I made this move simply because private affidavit does not qualify for services in most school districts in CA, and I needed some help figuring out how best to help my son. If you think your child may need services, keep that in mind. It may be worth a year or two of jumping through their requirements to get the help you need. Unless they change the law, you will be able to withdraw and go private affidavit anytime you are ready.

Good luck!

Edited to add: in CA, you can opt out of all state standardized testing. The schools don't want you to because that's how they get funding, but it's the parent's right to opt out. The only testing I couldn't opt out of was the physical fitness test that's done in 5th, 7th, and 9th grades. Not sure why...

 

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SELPA = Special Education Local Plan Area. Larger school districts are their own SELPA while smaller districts are part of multidistrict SELPA's. My county has 4 SELPA's but 18 districts.

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I'm thinking right now about starting as a private affidavit and then looking into charters to see if any fit our needs in stead of jumping right into one (it will give me time to see what's available in the area we're moving too).

 

Do you know if most independent study charters regional or state-wide? 

 

Sure, this is a good plan. There is no need to jump in.

 

A charter school is always attached to a local school district but they can offer their services county-wide, and to any county that touches theirs. So they can cover large regions but some are big and some are small.

 

There's a new one in our area (norCal), that I think must be run by the same people that runs a big one in soCal. But they are separate schools.

 

I think a lot, but not all, charters are run by nonprofit corporations, which can operate several different charter schools. Not sure if I'm using all the terms properly, but I hope you get the idea.

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