Friday, June 22, 2007

Albemarle County Home Instruction Policy Manual Inaccuarcies

As parents start researching homeschooling for next year, I want to take a moment to point out that the information on the Albemarle County (VA) Public Schools website, in the school board policy manual for home instruction, is inaccurate. It has been so since changes were made to the home instruction statute back in July 2006.

The official school board policy manual states, in part:

Any parent of any child who will have reached the fifth birthday on or before September 30 of any school year and who has not passed the eighteenth birthday may elect to provide home instruction in lieu of school attendance if he meets one of the following four qualification criteria for providing home instruction:
a. holds a baccalaureate degree in any subject from an accredited institution; or
b. is a teacher with qualifications prescribed by the Board of Education; or
c. has enrolled the child in a correspondence course approved by the Virginia Department of Education; or
d. provides a program of study or curriculum which, in the judgment of the Superintendent/Designee, includes the Standards of Learning objectives adopted by the Board of Education for language arts and math and provides evidence that the parent is able to provide an adequate education for the child.
There are some corrections that should be noted. You can read the Superintendent's Memo No. 124 here, for starters. The important parts to note are:

As of July 1, 2006, § 22.1-254.1.A of the Code of Virginia will allow the parent of any child who will have reached the fifth birthday on or before September 30 of any school year and who has not passed the 18th birthday to elect to home school a child if the parent meets one of the following:

1. The parent holds a high school diploma.
[ . . .]
4. The parent provides a program of study or curriculum, which, in the judgment of the division superintendent, includes the Standards of Learning objectives adopted by the Board of Education for language arts [English] and mathematics, or provides evidence that the parent is able to provide an adequate education for the child.
[ . . .]
This change [to option 4] allows a parent to satisfy option 4 by meeting either of the provisions in that option. In reviewing a program of study or curriculum, the division superintendent must use judgment to determine whether or not the program of study includes the required Standards of Learning objectives. To assess a parent’s ability to provide an adequate education, the division superintendent should determine whether the information submitted exhibits a mastery of language by the writer; whether it includes plans for instructional activities; and whether it presents a reasonable scope and sequence of content that shows a broad overview of what the parent plans to teach the child during the school year. [Emphasis added by me.]

Another section which is inaccurate is:

By August 1 following the school year in which the child has received home instruction, the parent shall submit evidence that the child has attained a composite score in or above the fourth stanine (23rd percentile) on a battery of achievement tests. The parent may either submit results from the standardized achievement tests approved by the Board of Education for use in the public schools, or the parent may submit results from any other evaluation of assessment which, in the judgment of the Superintendent/Designee, indicates that the child is achieving an adequate level educational growth. Permissible evaluations and assessments include but are not limited to portfolios and results of any nationally recognized achievement test with results in or above the fourth stanine (23rd percentile).
It should be noted that the memo points out these changes as well:

Evidence of Academic Progress

As amended by HB 1483,§ 22.1-254.1.C provides:

The parent who elects to provide home instruction shall provide the division superintendent by August 1 following the school year in which the child has received home instruction with either (i) evidence that the child has attained a composite score in or above the fourth stanine on any nationally normed standardized achievement test or (ii) an evaluation or assessment which the division superintendent determines to indicate that the child is achieving an adequate level of educational growth and progress. [emphasis added in memo]

Although there are numerous tests and evaluations that may meet the requirements of this section of the law, this department does not maintain a list of approved tests and evaluations.
The website section on homeschooling was recently changed. They have added this statement:
Albemarle County Schools Home Instruction Policy (IGBI) is currently under revision. Completion is expected at the end of June, 2007. As soon as the new revisions are approved we will post the new policy here.
I think this is information that parents might be interested in knowing. The law changed a year ago and affected parents for last year's homeschooling (2006-07). You never know where a potential homeschooler will turn for information. It can be misleading to read different versions or interpretations of the home instruction statute. I realize government schools put homeschool information low on their priority list, and I can understand why. But if parents are to comply, the information they provide needs to be correct. I hope I've helped clear up some of that. You can also find Virginia law related to home instruction at The Organization of Virginia's website, or read the code directly here.

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