While most states do not require parents to keep any sort of permanent record of their children’s academic progress, a few require parents to maintain test scores or portfolios of students’ work. In most states homeschool parents are exempted from submitting their children’s birth certificates or immunization records.
Some states require parents to maintain attendance and immunization records, a portfolio of students’ academic work, and copies of test scores or teacher evaluations. A few states require parents to submit proof of immunization or exemption. One state, South Dakota requires test scores to be kept on file at the local public school. Most states have no method of preserving or safeguarding homeschooled students’ academic records.
We recommend requiring parents to maintain a basic record of their students’ academic progress, which may be used to demonstrate that learning is taking place should any questions arise. This requirement is currently in place in states such as Missouri, Maryland, and Georgia. We recommend that a copy of each student’s annual assessment, whether that be a standardized test or a portfolio review, be confidentially maintained and kept on file by either the local school district or the state department of education. This is currently required in North Dakota. We recommend that local school districts or state departments of education require and keep on file information such as proof of age, proof of residency, and proof of immunization or exemption in the same way they would for any other student. Arizona,Louisiana, Nebraska, and North Dakota currently have such documentation requirements. In states that allow for “umbrella” schools, these records may be maintained by the umbrella school. Any and all of this information should be available to both the parents and the homeschooled student upon request.
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Maintaining basic documentation of children’s academic progress is an important part of responsible homeschooling. These records allow parents to demonstrate that they are educating their children should any question arise; are indispensable when creating students’ high school diplomas down the road; and assist in children’s placement should they be enrolled in public school. The materials contained in each child’s academic record should vary, but may include such items as reading lists, worksheets, writing samples and creative materials, outlines of subjects covered and curriculum used, and each year’s assessment. The goal should be to document each child’s academic progress rather than to conform to a set form.
There have been numerous cases where homeschool parents have withheld diplomas, transcripts, or other documentation of education provided in an attempt to control their children. Even in situations where parents would not withhold such documentation, it can be easy for records to be misplaced, thrown out, or accidentally destroyed. It is for this reason that we recommend that a copy of each student’s annual assessment be kept on file by the local school district, a state or regional homeschool office, or a private “umbrella” school. These records should be maintained confidentially and should be made available to both the homeschooled child and the homeschool parent upon request. This is already done in North Dakota.
Public and private schools require parents to submit copies of their children’s birth certificates in order to verify the children’s identities and ages. We suggest extending this requirement to homeschool families for the same reason. A number of states’ homeschool statutes already require parents to submit copies of their children’s birth certificates.