Do Home School Students Have To Take The FSA or Florida Standards Assessment?

I was talking to a friend and he says all the kids in Florida have to take the FSA to get a diploma. But my kid is home schooled. Does my he need to take the FSA? – A skeptical dad


Well good for you dad–be skeptical and investigate for yourself. You might have heard that all students in Florida have to take and pass the FSA in order to get a diploma. While there are actually caveats to that overarching rule, it is true for most public school students. It is not true, however, for home school students.


Remembering that there are lots of different ways to “home school” in Florida, you first have to know exactly what form of home school your student does.


If your student is a home schooler registered with the state of Florida they can, but do not have to, take the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA). According the Florida law “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.”


Guess what? The FSA does fit that requirement, and your local school district is required to make provision to test them. However it is not the only, and possibly not the best, option for your family.


Taking the FSA or a written test?

Some students do great on tests, while others don’t show their full potential. Some students might not do well in a classroom of kids they don’t know, taking a test with a teacher they aren’t familiar with, while other kids wouldn’t be bothered at all. You know your kids and know what testing environment would work best for them.


Students can take any nationally-normed reference test accepted by their local school district. Most Florida districts are more than happy to take the results of the IOWA or Stanford assessment. Also, remember that you can also have a certified educator conduct a review of the portfolio of work produced by your student, and they can provide you with an affidavit which you can provide to your local school district. (You know that Education Revolution offers both of the services?)


If your student is “home schooled” but enrolled in a virtual or “umbrella” school like Education Revolution’s, they have to meet the requirements of that school in order to move forward academically. These requirements may, or may not, involve required standardized testing. You’d have to investigate the requirements of the specific one that you are enrolled in.
So be skeptical before you become anxious unnecessarily. Check out the requirements for your student’s educational path.

Should Home Educators Consider Assessment?

Question: Why in the world would you suggest that home school children take a assessment? The whole reason most parents left public school was  every two minutes I heard the word assess! 

– The Feisty Home Educator


Dear Feisty Home Educator,


Great question!


Photo of bubble sheet. home school, assessment, IOWA, assess

Not just as a parent, but as an educator with over ten years of serve in the public education setting, I completely understand your concern when you hear the word assessment. It seems that every year there are more and more  emphasis to assess, with higher and higher stakes. But should home school students push against any assessment?


Unfortunately, I think that the actual meaning of what an assessment is has been blurred, misrepresented, and ultimately forgotten.


Notice that I use the word “assessment”–not test. The word “test” gives the idea of pass or fail. However that isn’t what an assessment is.


Plain and simple an assessment is a tool; it tests an educator where a student is academically, might highlight the need for a closer look at a certain need, and gives an idea of where the student should go next.


Let’s say that you were baking a cake for the first time with new ingredients. As you add a dash of this and cup of that, wouldn’t you pop a pinky in along the way to taste? How would you know if you need more, or less, of an ingredient unless you taste along the way. Would you wait until you put in all the hard work and baked it only to find out it’s too salty? Isn’t it better to adjust along the way if needed? Or even better, know that it tastes good and feel relaxed and confident about the result?


Assessments are like that taste test while you cook. Even if a combination of best home educator, with the best of intentions, the most hard working student, and a fabulous curriculum come together, the results are predictable. Every student is different; and while some techniques and curriculum might work for one third-grade male student, for example, it may not work for his friend up the street. Or maybe the home educator just wants to check to see of a student is getting the content and material; if they are, why hold them back by continuing to teach a skill they’ve mastered just because some arbitrary timeline says they need a few more weeks exposure? The only way to really know where your student’s achievement level, and possible need for intervention and additional support or change in curriculum is by assessment.


I encourage all home school educators to give a low-stress assessment of the core skills of reading, math, writing, science, and social studies, at least every other year. The assessment doesn’t always have to be a formal, big event. However, selection of the assessment should be thought out to get a realistic gauge on student achievement and needs. By doing so the home educator can be confident that they really are doing everything they can to help their student hit their highest achievement level.

– Yolanda

Director, Education Revolution