Saturday, January 12, 2008

Portfolios and transcripts, diplomas -- oh, my!

Never mind that it is Saturday, which I fondly regard as my day off. It's already nearly the middle of January, which is when I start planning the next homeschool year. And this year, it's even more urgent because of Meelyn's rapidly approaching ninth grade year.

I've been researching portfolios, transcripts and diplomas today. Diplomas, we're pretty far away from so I'm not all that fussed about them yet. But a portfolio of Meelyn's work and a transcript of her classes and grades -- those are things I have to start working on, like, now.

I almost hate to write this because I know Kayte will read it. She has always been one of those super-organized moms. When she was homeschooling her boys, she documented every lesson, every assignment and every test in some sort of impressive and complicated filing system that she invented herself. Frankly, I don't know too much about it, because in all the years I've known Kayte, I've never asked her about it. I was kind of hoping that she'd just assume that I also was keeping pristine records, but it isn't true.

My filing system consists of having the girls pile their class work on my desk until it topples over onto the floor. Then I sweep it up in my arms and carry it to the wastebasket. If they're working in workbooks, I check off each page as we grade it, but then at the end of the year, we throw the workbooks away. I know what books we've used, of course. And I know how they're both progressing -- it would be difficult not to know that when I'm sitting right here with them day after day. But I don't keep records and I don't issue report cards. My personal philosophy is that that isn't what school is about.

Most colleges and universities don't agree with me, however. They demand documentation, so I'm willing to bend. This means a whole new paradigm for our homeschooling experience. It will require organizational skills that I know I possess, but have never put to use in this particular area. So I've been searching around the internet today for the tools that will help me get things all in order BEFORE we start school next September.


I found this online source for portfolios from a website called Oklahoma Homeschool. It had some interesting information.

Similarly, there is this offering from the National Home Education Network.

Then there's this source, a website called, that made me very, very glad that I don't live in Pennsylvania, where the homeschooling laws and regulations seem to fall somewhere between Nikolai Ceaucescu and Pol Pot. Citizens there have to answer to someone called an "evaluator" from their local school district and the superintendent has to check you out to make sure you're covering the required subjects. Good grief. If Shirley Jackson, she of "The Lottery" were still with us, she would undoubtedly write a trenchant and fearsome short story about this sorry state of affairs. As I recall from her biography, she was none too pleased with the education her own children got from the Vermont public schools back in the 40s and 50s.


I found a book -- who can resist a book? -- on making high school transcripts, called Transcripts Made Easy, as well as a page with several articles about transcript preparation.

All this should keep me off the streets and out of trouble for a while.

1 comment:

Kbg said...

Very funny about me keeping track of everything...and I did keep track of a lot, but the other KATIE is the world class champ at documentation...she puts ALL OTHERS to shame!

Seriously, basically, my idea of report cards was this: If they understood, we moved on, if they didn't understand, we didn't move on until they did. Sort of rendered report cards moot...and I always figured what they did not get the current year, they would hopefully get the next, and that pretty much was the case...and not only that, they got it twice as fast the next year. I spent more time DOING than recording...always figured that was time better spent. HOWEVER, I am not teaching high school, so I might have been a little more dedicated and Katie-like with high school and transcripts. We will never know.

I am sure that whatever you do, would put anything I would have done to are also one of the Queens of Organization...the only difference between us is that old work hit the wastebasket way before it slumped off my desk...if we are done with it, it is outta here, asap! I always figured anyone who wanted to test my children were welcome to it as I knew they would outperferm anything expected of their grade levels. My idea was that if anyone asked to test my children, I would ask to be able to test their children or grandchildren...enough said. I figured anyone that wanted to test Alex would be blown away by most of his answers (I swear that kid has been alive before and known all the answers before) and be perplexed enough at trying to answer HIS questions. No one ever asked to test my kids...well, except the formal test we had them do each year just for our sense of peace about it all.