As part of the requirements for homeschooling where I live, we are visited by a government assessor every year or two. This is frequently the cause of a great deal of angst for people.
I have heard frequent complaints from people on different forums that there is a real lack of consistency between different assessors, and also different visits by the same assessor. These forums often advise people to have a second experienced homeschooler at an assessment to prevent any bullying or harassment.
I have only ever met our local assessor, so I really don’t know how he compares to any others. Certainly I quite like him. The general consensus around here is that is very supportive, and that has definitely been my experience. He came around yesterday to see how our first year and a bit has been going.
I was a little unsure what to show him. I have been making a real effort this year to keep actual exercise books which have been subject specific. This is not something we have been able to manage as well as I would have liked. For all the effort and learning which has happened over the last year, our representative pile of work was kind of small. Not much of our work makes it onto paper.
This assessor really stresses English as being the most important subject to get a handle on. His rationale is that an understanding of any subject flows from understanding the language used to describe it. I tend to agree with him on this.
My eldest boy (the only one being assessed) can read and spell reasonably well. He has good comprehension skills and quite neat writing. The only catch is that he doesn’t like writing, and very rarely does any of it. The only example of handwriting I was able to find was a page we managed to put together from playing ‘Silly sentences’ a while ago.
Most writing we do is fairly incidental, such as labelling maps. A strangely tricky area, he will often very neatly colour in the map, and then label it using ‘elf language.’
The assessor thought this was pretty funny. He described it as a ‘classic delaying technique.’ As a friend of mine later said to me, if it that easily recognised and named then it is normal enough not to worry about. That seems a fairly reasonable comment. Most of our formal English lessons are done online through Reading Eggs. The fact that we are getting through the lessons shows that he is making progress.
We worked our way through each subject area. I use a spreadsheet to record what we do, and how it correlates to the requirements I have to fulfil. For all the time that I have spent filling it out, he only looked at it long enough to make sure he understood the layout. I think the fact that I had filled it out in the first place was enough to show that I had a clear idea of what we had achieved.
Really what it seemed to come down to was that I was able to show that I had a plan, was acting within the state guidelines, and that I was able to identify strengths and weaknesses. He also wanted to see that I was able to capitalise on the strengths and support the weakness that I saw.
He wasn’t even too fussed on trying to assign a grade level. He was quite open about the whole thing being designed to get the greatest number of kids through the system in the most efficient manner. They vary so much in their abilities from subject to subject, especially in the early years, it is a completely false measurement.
I will not get to see this assessor again, which is something of a shame, because I liked his style. He is retiring in the next few months. The next assessor review I get will be late next year when my youngest boy turns six.