Homeschool Record Keeping
Your homeschool is a school, and schools maintain student records — both in the present and in the future. Whether or not your state mandates specific record keeping requirements, it is your responsibility as a homeschooling parent to create and maintain your child’s educational records. No other entity will maintain these records for you.
Note: When children are enrolled in an “umbrella” school or a public-private partnership such as a virtual charter school or online public school program, these programs will maintain at least some student records. In this case, you should consult with your child’s program regarding your own responsibility to maintain records of your child’s work.
Why do you need to keep good records? One reason is fairly immediate: Having good records will help you if questions ever arise about the quality of your homeschool. Another reason is more long term: When your child graduates from high school, they will need access to their academic records. Remember, your homeschool is a school! Just as public school graduates may request a transcript from their high school years later, your child will depend on you to maintain their academic records even after they become adults. Click here to learn about problems that can arise when homeschooling parents fail to keep good records.
There are other reasons to keep good records, too: Good record keeping will help you stay organized. Being able to look back at what you have already covered will also be useful in the future; this is especially true if you are homeschooling more than one child.
What do states require?
Before we list specific recommendations, let’s look at the statutes of several states that require homeschooling parents to keep specific documentation. You can look up your state’s law here. Even if you live in a state without specific requirements, knowing the sort of things states like to see can help guide you as you create your own record keeping practices.
Florida’s homeschool statute requires parents to “maintain a portfolio of records and materials” and mandates that that portfolio “consist of” the following items:
1. A log of educational activities that is made contemporaneously with the instruction and that designates by title any reading materials used.
2. Samples of any writings, worksheets, workbooks, or creative materials used or developed by the student.
Missouri’s homeschool statute requires parents to “maintain” the following records:
- A plan book, diary, or other written record indicating subjects taught and activities engaged in; and
- A portfolio of samples of the child’s academic work; and
- A record of evaluations of the child’s academic progress; or
- Other written, or credible evidence equivalent to subparagraphs a., b. and c.
Georgia’s homeschool statute requires homeschooling parents to “write an annual progress assessment report which shall include the instructor’s [i.e. the homeschooling parent’s] individualized assessment of the student’s academic progress in each of the subject areas” and mandates that “such progress reports shall be retained by the parent, parents, or guardian of children in the home study program for a period of at least three years.”
Home educators who have already read our page on portfolios may recognize some commonalities. The items on the lists above are very similar to the items that states that mandate portfolio evaluations ask parents to include in student portfolios. There is a good reason for this: in each case, the goal is to locate or preserve evidence of the child’s learning.
What record keeping does CRHE recommend?
CRHE recommends keeping the following records for each child being homeschooled (this may mean duplicating some records, so that each child has a complete set):
- A school calendar with attendance marked. Many states require parents who homeschool to conduct a set number of days of instruction. By marking the days when instruction took place, you will document that you have met this requirement.
- Your child’s homeschool plan. In Alaska, this is called an Independent Learning Plan; in New York, it is called an Individualized Home Instruction Plan. We call it an Individualized Home Education Plan, or IHEP. Whatever you choose to call your homeschool plan, this document will lay out what subjects your child will be studying and what curricular materials and resources you will use for each subject. You should create a homeschool plan for each child at the beginning of each school year.
- Your child’s medical records. Your local public school maintains a record of each enrolled student’s required well-child visits, immunization records, and other health screenings. Because your homeschool is also a school, you need to maintain these records as well. Learn more about medical visits and record keeping here.
- A portfolio of your child’s work. Parents who homeschool should save a portfolio of their child’s work at the end of each school year, whether or not their state requires them to do so. This is simply good record keeping! You may find it useful to start a working portfolio at the beginning of the school year which you can then add to during the school year and finalize at the end of the term. You can learn more about creating a portfolio, and about what to include in your child’s portfolio, here.
- Standardized test results. Your child should take a standardized test at least once while they are homeschooled, if not more often, if only to get them practice taking this kind of test. Click here to read more about standardized testing. You should maintain your child’s test results as part of your child’s permanent record.
- Your child’s IEP. If your child is disabled and has an Individualized Education Plan (this may be developed in cooperation with your local school district or privately), you should keep this document with your child’s permanent record.
We recommend that parents have their child’s portfolio reviewed by a certified teacher, and maintain the evaluator’s written report with the child’s portfolio (see more here). However, if you choose not to have your child’s portfolio evaluated by a certified teacher, you should write a narrative review yourself, outlining what your child covered over the course of the school year and your own assessment of their progress. You should keep this with their portfolio.
If you are homeschooling a high school student, you will need to make a plan for your child to achieve all of the credits expected for high school graduation in your state. You will need to document the completion of each of these credits, and keep this documentation with your records. For more on homeschooling during the high school years, see here.
Maintenance and storage
You should maintain your child’s records and make them available to your child throughout their life. This means that you will be responsible for maintaining your child’s academic records even after they are grown. You may find it helpful to digitize your child’s records and store them in the cloud. If you store your child’s records in your home, you may want to designate an area of one of your closets, or a section of your attic, to these records.
We have heard from homeschool graduates whose educational records were lost due to flood, fire, or a family move. These individuals have reached out to us because they needed these records years later to apply for college, or to go through a career change, and found themselves struggling to replicate and remember what was lost. Please take care that your child’s educational records are maintained safely.
The number one complaint we hear from homeschool graduates who received an insufficient homeschool education is a lack of parental organization. Creating and maintaining good educational records for your child is key to homeschooling them successfully.
Don’t forget to read the other articles in this series!
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