What is a portfolio review? What should it include?

Question: I am a newbie. This was my first year, and now I’m worried about this portfolio evaluation. What exactly should I prepare for a homeschool portfolio review? What should I expect?

So you’re opting for the portfolio evaluation to wrap up your school year. If you are registered with your local school district, this is one way of meeting the Florida State Statue’s requirements.

You may be wondering exactly what a portfolio is, and how to prepare one. Simply put it is a recorded log of what you’re student completed during the school year, and examples of their work. It should reflect the the growth a student has made during the school year.

It does not mean that an evaluator needs to see every last piece of paper, or evidence of every assignment completed. Nope! In fact, don’t even try. It will drive you nuts, and an experienced evaluator will not be combing over thousands of work samples. 

Think about an artist student that curates a portfolio to show to the admissions board of a art  school. Do they give the admissions board every doodle they ever made? No! They make sure that they show the board their best work, in wide variety and range--essentially their portfolio says “Look at me, who I am, and what I can do!”

Your student’s portfolio should do the same--it should showcase your student’s growth over the year. By law, it needs to be kept for 2 years, and be available for inspection by the county within 15 days of being requested. Once a teacher or evaluator has signed off on it, keep it neat, keep it together, and keep it handy for two years.

A log of some kind should be kept throughout the school year. I have seen things as simple as composition notebooks written by hand that just state what a student did, to electronic notes stored on private cloud storage sites. Some parents have written plans, and just make the date something is completed and keep it as a log--they don’t actually create anything new or separate. It doesn't matter what method you use--just use one. It doesn’t need to be long, complicated or stressful. Make a list. Write down the page numbers covered in a book, or jot down the novel the student is reading.

A solid portfolio will have examples of student’s work in all subjects they spent a lot of time working in. It’s a very good idea to have material examples that span throughout the school year. This makes it easy to see how students have grown. Don’t think only written work has to go in there. Went on a field trip? Throw in some pictures. Kid’s took a painting class? Show off a creation. Took a trip to the theater? Save that ticket stub! Taught your student about plants or bugs while growing your backyard garden? Take pictures of your student in their garden! Did they earn an award or certificate? Yes, please up in a copy. Did they start a business? Throw in some proof of that. Remember, field trips count! Religious responsibilities that required reading, studying, research, speaking, or preforming? Please include that! Older student have a internship? Put a record sheet of that in your portfolio too! If your school year was more than worksheets--your portfolio should be too! 

U.S. National Archives’ Local Identifier: 412-DA-15766    Photographer: Haque, Abul

Just as an artist doesn't include every piece of art they have created in their portfolio, the homeschool portfolio does not need to maintain every piece of work a student produces.

IF your student used a program like Time4Learning, FLVS FLEX, of the Simple Revolution Solution (that's ours), print out the grades! Sites like MobyMax, IXL, and others have parent reports that show how a student has performed using their site over time. These are just a few a super easy way to continuity of work. 

Also, a portfolio review is not to see if your student is “on grade level” or to see if they made what the school system would consider “a year’s worth of growth”! Every child starts at different places, and grows at different rates. The portfolio review is to give proof to the county and state that the student is learning and making the growth possible based on their own abilities and circumstances.

Unschoolers or relaxed schoolers will not have a problem completing a portfolio review. Look for an evaluator who understands these educational approaches, and you’ll be just fine (if you're wondering, I love working with unschoolers and relaxed schoolers). 

IF this is your first year and you’re like “Oh crap, I didn’t keep anything! No one told me to keep a list”--breath! Once again, an experienced evaluator will help you by looking at what is there, and give you the reassurance you need to feel comfortable. You’ll find the method and evaluator that works for you and your family in time.

As a side note, it’s great if you can work with the same evaluator once your find your fit. This way you won’t have to explain your situation to someone new annually, or feel that you have to go to great lengths to demonstrate growth. and you can feel at ease. You should also have an ally there to help you at anytime throughout the school year if you need assistance. 

Remember, Florida law requires 180 days of school completed during the 365 span since their last evaluation (or when they registered). It could happen ANY day--even holidays, summer, or weekends. A log or records with dates, a examples that were produced over a course of the year is all that is required. It should not be a source of stress or anxiety for the home educator or student!



Questions? Want to schedule a portfolio evaluation with me? I can help you out! Just contact me

Homeschool Q & A–maybe you’re questions have been answered?

Maybe you've had some questions about homeschool? Well, maybe I've answered it in one of my recent Q & A sessions. Check them out below to see if your question has been answered. 


Just look in the menu below above each video to see what topics are addressed in it. Click the question to see at what time stamp the information can be found--it's that simple!

If you don't see your question addressed here, feel free to send it in to me on our contact page, or send me a message on Facebook. I'll answer it in an upcoming Q & A session OR live on Facebook!


Does Education Revolution and the Simple Revolution Solution meet Florida's state statues? 

Can a parent really work full time and homeschool?

Does a student in the Simple Revolution Solution have to make all the love lessons?

How many sessions of tutoring are included with Simple Revolution Solution?

What is the breakdown of the pricing for the Simple Revolution Solution?

What does a parent need to provide to sign their student up with Education Revolution/Simple Revolution Solution?

Is it enough for a student to just have exposure to content, using a non-structured approach (relaxed homeschooling), at a young age?

What if we start with the relaxed homeschooling approach and we find out part of the way through, will FLVS be available to us?

What if we start FLVS but don't like it can we stop?

Does the Simple Revolution Solution offer courses à la carte, or do we have to take all the courses if we sign up?

What if you are working with a student and suspect dyslexia?

Are there any other programs out there just like FLVS FLEX?

Are there subjects you "must have" for a kid who might be college bound?

Suggestions on used curriculum?

Is social studies for elementary kids very different from year to year?

Is FLVS FLEX based on Common Core? Are there test? Assignments? 

What do you think about sites like ABC Mouse,  Starfalls, ect.? 

Advice requested from a parent of a student in need of exceptional services looking to transition to homeschool/Education Revolution.

How does the Simple Revolution Solution look different next year from this year? 

What do you mean when you say that students in the Simple Revolution Solution are grouped by ability, not by grade? 

What advice do you have for a home educator whose young students give up quickly when reading work becomes difficult, or shows little interest in mastering the skill of reading?

Let's talk about students with 504 Plans Simple Revolution Solution.

If a student (young) who is homeschooled is not given standardized tests, but re-entered the public school will it be a check against them?

When selecting a curriculum, how do I ensure that I am covering the material that students of the same grade-level are expected to cover?

Are there any other subjects outside of the core curriculum that should be covered?

Scenario: A student is taking a combination of FLVS FLEX and The Simple Revolution Solution--will they be required to have assessments? Will these programs produce enough data and records to show that a student is ready to more forward academically?

What does attendance taking look like with Education Revolution? How many days are in a school year? How many hours are in a school day? What counts as a school day? What is the "start" and "end" of a kid's school year? How is attendance taken?

Does Education Revolution organized field trips and meet-ups?

Can a parent that works nights successfully homeschool?

Is you response to people who say homeschoolers are not socialized?

What is unschooling? Legit option or an easy way out?

What is unschooling? Is it legit or an easy way out? – A researching newbie mom

 

I was pretty sure if I “unschooled” children they would eventually mutiny.

Define unschooling? A while ago I would have given you a very different response. I’ll admit it–when I heard the term “unschooling” for the first time the image that came to mind was that of unruly children. No training. No learning. No form. No routine. No structure. No way!

 

I was worse than one simply ignorant to homeschooling. I was an educator who was ignorant to homeschooling. I wasn’t anti-homeschooling. In fact I was intrigued about it as an option for my children. I actually came across the term “unschooling” during my research, and I’ll admit that the title threw me off. I immediately thought that “un”schooling was tantamount to “anti”educating. And how could I, an educator, support or endorse something that I thought belittled education? I stood on my ill-form idea and didn’t dive any further into the homeschooling approach.

 

What a small minded conclusion I had jumped too! When a friend of mine, a graduate of the homeschool system herself, married to an Ivy leaguer, told me that her children were being unschooled, I had to pause because apparently I had missed something. Here were two adults who I admired for thinking outside the box, highly capable critical thinkers themselves, and they were unschooling. And their sons? Polite, well-spoken, well-mannered, intelligent, and academically gifted. Yes, I had obviously had no idea what unschooling was. And once I did the research with an open mind I realized that always touted many virtues of unschooling in my own education philosophy.

 

So, just what is unschooling?

 

In essence, it is a branch of the homeschooling community that encourages a student-led approach to education. Children are encouraged, and assisted, in following their passions. If you have an education background (like me) and support Project Based Learning (like me) don’t you dare roll your eyes at this. Many highly acclaimed schools in the US are praise for encouraging “inquiry,” “problem-solving,” and “project-based learning”. If you don’t believe me, check out The Noodle’s 41 most innovative schools way back in 2015.

 

Strip all of that educator’s jargoon away and what do you have? Schools are innovating by attempting to encourage children to do exactly what unschoolers are encouraged to do everyday–dive into their interests and passions. It’s probably this encouragement that had my friend’s son taking violin lessons while other kindergarten students were learning to stand in straight lines. Which, I ask you, will serve a child more? The latter only has a place if you expect that child to spend a lot of time in institutional lines… but I digress.

 

The Oxford Research Encyclopedias defined schooling as “a set of procedures employed by specialists, called teachers, to induce children to acquire a certain set of skills, knowledge, values, and ideas, referred to as a curriculum, chosen by the teacher or by a schooling hierarchy above the teacher.” I’ll be honest: I find the definition, while at its base true, a bit infused with a prejudice.

 

What shines through this though is that education has no direct tie to schooling. A school is a unit of an educational institution. The foundational confines given by the institutional aspect of school can be thrown off, allowing for more freedom and movement in education. You can lose the “school” without losing “education”.

 

Is unschooling for everyone?

 

I’ll say it, and you can quote me: unschooling done right is amazing, but it is not for everyone. First notice that I said “done right”. Sitting home on the “boob-tube” all day for weeks at end, to no end, is not unschooling. (Please note, I am not talking about a process often called “deschooling” in this article.) Unschooling is a form of education–therefore some form of learning occurs. Especially in younger years it’s important to let a student try their hands at many things. When something strikes a chord, encourage it! Giving your young student opportunities to try things means exposure and effort from the home educator! Even a student who gets sucked into watching Star Wars over and over, for example, should eventually take it to another level as natural curiosity takes over. Maybe they are interested in George Lucas himself? Maybe it’s the costume aspect of it? Perhaps they decide to make their own fan-movie? Imagine what kind of learning would take place from the time a child who was apparently just a couch-potato turns into a creative maven and makes their own film? Or maybe they decide to cosplay some of those outfits. Do you know how much learning would occur as they learn to measure, convert,   

 

A home educator that unschools may find that their “school calendar” is full of lots and lots of activities. Unschooling is by no means the “easy way out”.

 

Also note that I mentioned that I don’t believe it’s for everyone. Maybe the home educator would feel more comfortable with a curriculum or outline to follow. Maybe it’s the student themselves that craves more structure? Guess what? That’s OK. There is no right way for everyone to do homeschooling. However, having a balanced view of all of the homeschool approaches, along with an honest understanding of yourself, your student, and your lifestyle could help you decide on which of may options just might be right for you.

 

Do you unschool? If so, what does a typical day or week look like for you? What advice would you give to someone considering this approach?