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Home Education Evaluators

The law requires that each home education student be interviewed, and their portfolio reviewed by a qualified home education evaluator each school year. The evaluator's written certification that an appropriate education is occurring must be submitted by the home education supervisor to the superintendent of the student's district of residence by June 30 of each school year (24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(e),(h.1)).

Yearly Evaluation Requirements

The evaluation of the student's educational progress must be annual and written. The evaluation must be based on an interview of the child and a review of the portfolio and accompanying documentation. The evaluation must certify whether an appropriate education is occurring (24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(e)(2)).

An appropriate education is defined in 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(a) as:

  1. A program consisting of instruction in the required subjects (see the Home Education Curriculum subsection)
  2. The time required in this act (see the Portfolio – Tracking a Home Education Program subsection)
  3. The student demonstrates sustained progress in the overall program

Sustained progress in the overall program would indicate that the student is progressing through the mandatory courses such that the student will complete all mandatory courses during their current interval (elementary or secondary).

Since no time can be recorded toward the mandatory hours or days until the affidavit or unsworn declaration is submitted to the school district (the affidavit begins the program), the evaluator can consult the notarized affidavit/unsworn declaration to determine the start date of the program if questions arise.

The supervisor of the home education program may have a preference for the amount of detail contained in the written evaluation (see the Evaluation – Closing Out a Home Education Program subsection.)

Verifying "Compliance with Any Other Provisions"

In addition to reviewing the portfolio for compliance with compulsory attendance and progress in the overall home education program, other questions may arise regarding compliance with other provisions of the home education law. The basis for these concerns must be substantiated in writing to the supervisor of the home education program by the superintendent of schools.

Concerns may include such things as whether the home education supervisor is qualified, whether anyone living in the home has been convicted of a criminal offense that would render the program invalid, or whether the program was conducted in English. A qualified home education evaluator may certify whether the program is in compliance, given appropriate documentation or evidence by the supervisor of the program (24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(j.1)).

Co-signing the High School Diploma

Act 196 of 2014 provides for state-recognized supervisor-issued diplomas for students completing the graduation requirements of a home education high school diploma. This diploma must be on a form provided by PDE, and must be co-signed by the evaluator whose evaluation was submitted to the superintendent for the student's twelfth grade (graduation) year (24 P.S. §13-1327.1(d.1)).

Evaluator Confirmation

The twelfth grade evaluator that co-signs the home education high school diploma confirms that the student is suitable for graduation. A determination that a student is suitable for graduation, that is, that the graduation requirements have been met, is more extensive in review than a yearly evaluation.

If the twelfth grade evaluator has not evaluated all of the student's high school portfolios, the evaluator will need sufficient evidence of completion of all courses required for graduation in the home education program. In light of this, evaluators may consider providing a signed listing each year to the supervisor documenting the courses they have reviewed. Parents can save these yearly evaluations as evidence of course completion for the twelfth grade evaluator.

Evaluators may consider keeping a record of evaluations they have completed and a list of the students for whom they have signed diplomas.

Backup Confirmation

The evaluator may offer to add a notation to the twelfth grade evaluation submitted to the superintendent stipulating that the graduation requirements have been met so that the school district can document the home education graduation. If the student's diploma is lost or misplaced and the twelfth grade evaluator cannot be located to sign a replacement, there will be another official record that it exists.

The school district should be able to verify the following as is required to track both the notarized affidavit and the evaluation:

  1. The supervisor submitted an affidavit for the graduation year of the named student;
  2. The named evaluator on the diploma fulfills the legal requirements as a secondary level Home Education Evaluator; and that
  3. The evaluator's twelfth grade evaluation for the student was submitted to the school district.

Qualifications

There are a number of avenues for individuals to qualify to become home education evaluators (24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(e)).

  1. Licensed clinical psychologist
  2. School psychologist
  3. Pennsylvania certified teacher with two years grading experience at the level they evaluate (K-6 and/or 7-12)
  4. Nonpublic school teacher or administrator with two years PA teaching experience within the last 10 years at the level they evaluate (K-6 and/or 7-12)
  5. Persons with other qualifications, with the prior consent of the superintendent of the district of residence

At the request of the supervisor, persons with other qualifications may conduct the evaluation with the prior consent of the district of residence superintendent. If the superintendent has confidence in the evaluator's ability to do a credible job, they may allow that person to evaluate, regardless of degrees or teaching experience (24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(e)(2)). The supervisor should receive permission to use an evaluator with "other qualifications" well before the evaluation is due to ensure the choice is acceptable.

NOTE: The supervisor or the spouse of the supervisor of the home education program is not allowed to be the evaluator for their home education program, regardless of any qualifications (24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(e)(2)).

Teaching experience is defined in 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(e)(1) as:

  1. A teacher or administrator who evaluates a portfolio at the elementary level (grades kindergarten through six) shall have at least two years of experience in grading any of the following subjects: English, to include spelling, reading and writing; arithmetic; science; geography; history of the United States and Pennsylvania; and civics.
  2. A teacher or administrator who evaluates a portfolio at the secondary level (grades seven through twelve) shall have at least two years of experience in grading any of the following subjects: English, to include language, literature, speech, reading and composition; science, to include biology, chemistry and physics; geography; social studies, to include economics, civics, world history, history of the United States and Pennsylvania; foreign language; and mathematics, to include general mathematics, algebra, trigonometry, calculus and geometry.
  3. As used in this clause, the term "grading" shall mean evaluation of classwork, homework, quizzes, classwork-based tests and prepared tests related to classwork subject matter.

A PA certified teacher's experience would apply regardless of where that experience occurred, including in a private tutoring program.

Continuing Education (Act 48) for an Evaluator

The law specifically exempts evaluators and private tutors from having to maintain an active status for Act 48 Continuing Professional Development. This means an evaluator does not have to maintain Act 48 hours (24 P.S. § 12-1205.1).

If interested, a certified teacher may check their Act 48 status at the Professional Education Record Management System (PERMS) webpage. This link also can be used to obtain their PPID, if it is unknown.

Providing Credentials

The law requires that the evaluation submitted to the superintendent must be completed by individuals with certain credentials. The verification of these credentials will depend on the credential itself.

The home education supervisor may select anyone to evaluate their student's portfolios, as long as that individual fulfills one of the five qualifications. The choice of evaluator selected by the supervisor cannot be denied as long as that individual meets the vocational criteria.

  1. Licensed clinical psychologist: License number lookup.
  2. School psychologist: This is an Education Specialist Certification and can be checked in the same manner as any PA certified teacher.
  3. Pennsylvania certified teacher: Official verification of credentials is checked online using the teacher's PPID or name. Paper certifications no longer are used. The evaluator's name must match the name on the certification. If a teacher's name has changed but this is not yet reflected in their official record, documentation could be provided to substantiate the change. Teachers should update their official record whenever there is a name change. Check certification on the Teacher Information Management System (TIMS).
  4. Nonpublic school teacher or administrator: For a teacher or administrator not having PA certification, a notation listing the contact information (e.g., phone number) for the place of employment where they taught, along with the subjects and grades taught, can be checked by contacting the place of employment. A letter on letterhead from the referenced institution also would be acceptable.
  5. Persons with other qualifications: The superintendent of schools in the student's district of residence may accept any other credentials or documentation they believe to be adequate. This is completely at the discretion of the superintendent. Some examples of requests include college professors, teachers certified in other states, experienced homeschool parents, professional curriculum providers, and teachers in "umbrella schools."

Documenting Credentials

One method for documenting qualifications is to create a simple block signature for the evaluation, listing the evaluator's credentials.

Suggested Format

  • Evaluator's Name
  • PPID (for PA certified teacher or school psychologist) or License Number (for licensed clinical psychologist)
  • School where taught, with contact number (phone number)
  • Span of years taught, subjects taught, grades taught

Samples

  • Alex Garcia
  • PPID: 5101604
  • North Green SD, 515-555-5555
  • 2010-2015, mathematics, grades 7-12
  • Mary Jones
  • Clinical Psychologist
  • PA License: PS012345L
  • James Williams
  • Johnson Academy
  • 717-000-0000
  • 2010-2015, science, grades 5-8