If parents choose a home school educational route for their children, recognizing the changing state curriculum requirements is necessary in case the decision is re-evaluated.
David Johnson, who is retiring as the Santa RosaCountySchool District’s BlendedAcademy in November, suggests parents or guardians of home school children keep apprised of the educational standards.
“Home school is an interesting animal, because everything is dictated by state requirements,” Johnson said. “(Home school parents and students) may not have been aware because (the change) wasn’t announced in a huge press release.”
While the transition from home education to public elementary and middle school grade levels may come with ease, Johnson said switching to high school might not be as simple due to increasing educational expectations and graduation requirements.
Laura Austin, who is in the process of taking over Johnson’s position, agrees.
“In the high school level, they are based on credits,” she said. “There are specific classes that go with specific grades.”
As an example, Austin said middle school students are required to take a civics and a career class in order to progress into the high school level.
In addition to keeping up to date on all of the state requirements, Johnson also recommends home school students regularly take free standardization tests in order to gauge how their child performs academically against public school students on the same grade level.
Another key factor is maintaining a portfolio for the home school student, which according to Florida School Law should consist the logging of educational activities, from samples of completed work to a reading list and more.
“It should not consist of merely two or three worksheets that the student did in order to get the credit.” Austin said.
Each portfolio is reviewed by a panel of SRCSD administrators in order to make sure each home school student is in line with state standards.
Austin said her department is open to questions and has resources available online at the Alternative Academic Programs website. She said if a concern occur regarding a portfolio arise, the district will contact the Florida Department of Education.
“We certainly want to give credit where credit is due,” she said.
If a parent or home school student considers transferring to public school, both Austin and Johnson advise making the move sooner rather than waiting until the senior year of high school.
“They have to take all of those tests and you want to make sure that they have enough time to pass that FSA and pass that FCAT,” Austin said.
While Austin has only encountered one questionable portfolio, Johnson said those instances are very few.
“Most of our home school families do an outstanding job,” he said. Santa RosaCounty currently has nearly 860 home school students.