Recap of Spring 2018 Portfolio Review

Signing Up for the Review

I was really glad last week when I got the email saying the school district is starting reviews early this year. For the last two years, they have used an online sign-up system that makes it really easy to pick a location and time. I chose a library about 20 minutes from where we live because I had to run an errand in that area anyway. They only had afternoon appointments that day, so I picked the 2:30-3:00 slot because my son had an activity until 2. All of the 3-3:30 slot were already filled when I tried to sign up.

At the Review

We arrived about 5 minutes before the appointment and were told to sign in. My son was the last kid on list. The sign-in sheet asked for my signature and whether or not we would be homeschooling next year. Then, we were directed to a reviewer.

Data Entry

Our reviewer this time was an older man that we have never had before. He was not saccharine friendly like some of other reviewers I have met. My kids came in with me, but then decided to look for books before we even got started. While I got my laptop booted up, he started entering stuff on his laptop. Some data must be visible to the reviewers when they enter a kid’s name because he only asked what grade my kid is in. He verified my name, so it must have been on the screen, but he did not ask my email address even though they send the review report to parents by email. There is also a checkbox for whether the kid was present for the review and he mumbled something about “well, I guess he WAS here.”
The first question he asked me before I showed him anything was whether I use a curriculum. I told him, “I use curriculum for some subjects.”
His response was, “But you don’t buy a curriculum that covers everything, like Abeka?” Luckily, I was clicking to open my PowerPoint right then, so he couldn’t see my eyeballs rolling into my head!

Clueless about Educational Strategies

Unfortunately, Abeka was about the only homeschool-related concept of which he seemed to be aware. None of my curricula, textbooks, workbooks, or resources elicited any kind of response that indicated him having encountered them before. Usually, I get “oh, I see a lot of people who use X.” He appeared to think that we have class periods at home, like they have at school, because he kept asking how much time is spent on each subject every day. I tried to explain to him that that varies considerably depending on what the assignment is. It fell on deaf ears, because after telling him that one day of a grammar exercise and vocabulary takes less time than the next day of reading 3 chapters of a novel or writing an essay, he wanted to know how much time we spend on math. He also seemed to have trouble wrapping his head around the fact that my son is not answering discussion questions for the books he reads. I tried to explain that we read the books together and discuss things as we read and that, sometimes, my son writes essays about some aspect of a book or tying it into the context of other things he is learning. That went right over the reviewer’s head, too.

Clueless about Appropriate Education

He also did not seem to have much awareness of age-appropriate work. First off, he thought my no-quite-4-year-old was there to be reviewed in addition to the 7th grader. After I showed him some English work samples, he asked if my son keeps a daily writing prompt journal. I have never heard of any kid doing those past like the 2nd grade and certainly not in middle school. He did not know what MATHCOUNTS is (it’s a middle school math competition). Maybe that’s excusable since only 5 out of the 30 middle schools in the district participate. He asked, after seeing the list of topics we have covered, if the Art of Problem Solving Introduction to Algebra book is on a 7th grade level book, apparently unaware that Algebra I is normally the first high school math. Yet, he kept bringing up STEM. It came up when we talked about math, because obviously a kid doing math contests in the 7th grade must already have plan for studying engineering. Nope! Then again, when we got to science, “Does he like science? Is he interested in any STEM field?” Nope, right now he is into music and parkour.

Can I go home yet?

One strange thing about the review was they were folding up the tables and rushing us out by the time we were done, even though when I signed up it appeared that six families would be reviewing in the time slot after us. I certainly would have liked to have had the 3:00 appointment time, then we wouldn’t have been rushing from my son’s activity to the review. Throughout the review, the guy was rushing, too. He didn’t really care to see all the samples I had (it was only 4 things for each academic subject.)

The Report (seriously, I wish I was making this up!)

Then, I got the write-up of the review the next day. It is an embarrassment that this reviewer is in a position to judge my efforts at educating my child. Among several other typos, he had written up MATHCOUNTS as “Mouth Counts” and documented that my son gets daily instruction in “Gremany” (that was supposed to be German). He also mentioned that “Mom completes math tests from a test bank”. Well, to be fair, I do take the math tests to make a key and check that the problems are at the right level, but this makes it sound like I am doing the math tests for my son! I emailed the homeschooling office and told them I would like a new copy of the report after they fix the typos. Yeah, because I am still that parent!