June 6, 2013

Annual Assessments: New York State

The school year is coming to an end already?  So much to do!  Don't worry; it's not as daunting as you may think, but there are several choices to make along the way.

This post is limited to annual assessments for grades 1 through 8, since that is the range in which my own children fall, and I have not yet had any experience with assessments for higher grades.

To begin, you have two options from which to choose:  A) written narrative assessment, or B) a commercially published norm referenced achievement test.

In grades 1 - 3, you need only submit a written narrative assessment. 

In grades 4 - 8, you may choose between the written narrative and the achievement test, but you have to alternate between the two each year.  Many home schoolers choose to use the written narrative in 4th grade, followed by the achievement test in 5th grade, etc., because that means fewer tests for the child, but it's entirely up to you.

In all instances, you're faced with making another choice.  Who will administer the assessment to your child?

New York regulations give you some leeway.  You can choose to use a certified teacher, a peer group review panel, or "other person".  The easiest choice is to use the "other person", because that person can be YOU!  Yes!  New York State recognizes you, the parent, as qualified to teach your children, so who better to assess whether or not your child "has made adequate academic progress"?  You can write the narrative assessment, and you can administer the achievement test.

But, wait!  There is a catch.  Your choice of who will administer the assessment to your child has to be approved by your school district.  See, they can't tell you who to use for the assessments, but they can say no to whomever you choose to use.  Bummer!

So, here comes another choice for you to make.  Do you want to risk hassling with the school district over who will or won't administer your child's assessments?  Or do you want to make it as easy on yourself as possible? 

Our first home schooling year, we decided to use a certified teacher, just to avoid any hassle (that backfired, by the way, but I'll talk more about that in a later post).  But I really wanted to just administer the assessments myself, because nobody knows my boys and the progress they've made over the years better than me!

The process is the same, no matter your choice.  At the time you submit either your 2nd or 3rd Quarterly Report, include one or two sentences stating what your plan is for your Annual Assessment.  If the school district disapproves of your choice, they will contact you.  If they do not disapprove, they will either contact you, or, they will do nothing.  Hearing nothing from your district in regards to your Annual Assessment plan can be regarded as the equivalent of approval of your plan.

Here's the statement I slipped in at the end of my 2nd Quarter Report:
Jonnie’s annual assessment will be submitted in the form of a written assessment at the end of this school year.
I never heard anything from my district, so I'm taking that to mean they have no problems with my plan. Since this is my first year writing a narrative assessment, I plan to follow the example given in the Cityschooling blog.  Short, simple, to the point, and meets the State's requirements.

But what if you choose to use an achievement test?

More choices!

New York State accepts quite a few different tests.  Our first year, we chose the CAT (California Achievement Test).  It's a timed test with language arts and mathematics sections.  But our son doesn't do well with timed tests.  In fact, he gets anxious and convinces himself he cannot do any of the problems, then he spends inordinate amounts of time on each problem, trying to make sure he gets it right, and ends up not finishing the test.  Needless to say, he performed rather poorly on the CAT, even though we know that he knows the information on it.

Even though we chose to do a written narrative assessment this year, we decided to also administer a test every year, just so we can gauge what material we still need to cover in the coming years, and what material he's mastered.  This year, we chose to use the PASS (Personalized Achievement Summary System) test from Hewitt Homeschooling.

The PASS test is an assessment test rather than an achievement test, created specifically with home schoolers in mind.  It is not timed.  It contains 3 sections - math, reading, and language [arts].  It also emphasizes that the child is not expected to know all the answers to all the questions.  They're only expected to know between 50% - 90% of the answers.  And before you administer the test, the child takes a short (12 question) placement test that allows his results to be better compared to the results of other kids at his same level.  It's a very relaxed, stress-free approach (you can administer it over the span of several days, if you like), and New York recognizes it as an acceptable assessment tool.  My son will be finishing it up tomorrow, actually, and I've already decided this is the test we will use from now on.

If you choose to use an achievement test for your annual assessment, all you need to do is submit a copy of the test score results with your 4th quarter report.  In New York State, your child needs a composite score above the 33rd percentile on national norms or needs a score that reflects one academic year of growth as compared to a test administered during or subsequent to the prior school year.  A partial list of NY Department of Education approved tests can be found in the regulations, and an extended list can be found here.

You'll want to read the entire NYS Education Department home instruction regulations for complete requirements.  I've covered most of them in this post.  But it's important to be intimately familiar with the regulations... just in case.

If you have any questions about this, please feel free to leave them in the comments.

Previous post... Quarterly Reports


27 comments:

  1. Thank you!!! I have been trying to find a NYS homeschooling parent blog (not specifically a NYC one). The posts you have on the letter of intent, ihip, and quarterly reports have answered so many of my questions!!! I can not tell you how much better I feel, thank you so much! I'm pinning your blog so I can find it frequently!

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    1. You're welcome, Munchkin Momma! I'm glad you found it helpful. Also, my apologies for such a late response. My "reply" button has been missing in action for quite some time, and I just today figured out how to get it back.

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  2. Thank you so much for the detailed information on the requirements for homeschooling in NYC. I was so confused but aftee reading your blog it became so helpful. I will keep your blog saved so I can reflect back. Thanks again ;-)

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  3. I would like to start homeschooling my son this year. Is it too late for me to send out a letter of intent as the deadline is July1?Please reply at your convenience (no rush) ! Thank you!

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    1. Keron, here is what the NYS regulations state: "Parents who determine to commence home instruction after the start of the school year, or who establish residence in the school district after the start of the school year, shall provide written notice of their intention to educate their child at home within 14 days following the commencement of home instruction within the school district." So, you can begin homeschooling at any time, but you have to submit your Letter of Intent within 14 days. I would suggest you submit it the very day you remove him from public school, so as to avoid any difficulties. Also, my apologies for such a late response. My "reply" button has been missing in action for quite some time, and I just today figured out how to get it back.

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  4. All of this info in one place is fabulous! Thank you so much! I am a former public school spec ed teacher and I am looking to begin homeschooling immediately after the holidays (I figured it would be an easy transition). I am becoming overwhelmed at all the info out there. I am also looking into the Oak Meadow curriculum...if you happen to have any opinions, I'm more than happy to listen! Of course, I'm gong through all of the "am I making the best choice for my kids, etc" and hoping to hear more positive comments re: homeschooling than negative! When do you think the best time to submit my LOI to the district would be?

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    1. Tracy, unfortunately, I have no experience with Oak Meadow. Are you on Facebook? If so, you should look into joining several homeschooling groups there. You will find a lot of helpful information, as well as tons of encouragement! As for your LOI, you should submit it as soon as possible. The law says it must be submitted within 14 days of when you begin homeschooling, but, to be sure you're not called into question, try to submit it on the last day of school before the holiday break. Also, my apologies for such a late response. My "reply" button has been missing in action for quite some time, and I just today figured out how to get it back.

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  5. Hello! Curious about your experience with a certified NYS teacher for the annual assessment. Is there a link to your blog post on that experience?

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    1. I haven't posted about our experience, but am happy to tell you about it. We used a certified teacher our first year, only because I wanted to make sure we did everything by the book and didn't draw attention to ourselves. (I have since overcome that.) We have several friends who are teachers, so we approached one of them and asked if he'd be willing to administer the test to our son. He agreed to do so. We set up a meeting time and place (our public library) and provided him with a timer (we used the CAT). As far as our interaction with the school district, it was a complicated thing, because the superintendent at the time was very anti-homeschooling, did not know or understand the homeschooling regulations, and gave us a very hard time. It took an in-person meeting and 2 or 3 written letters on my part before she conceded to our choice of tests, locations, and teachers. I had begun sending a letter to the school board due to her not responding to our final letter, but as soon as she found out about that, she immediately sent a response basically denying any trouble she had given us and saying we could go ahead with our plan for testing. Since that first year, though, we have not used a teacher for testing. I simply put a sentence at the end of our 2nd quarter reports stating that our son's annual assessment will be submitted in the form of a commercially published norm referenced achievement test at the end of this school year. A non-response from the school is taken as approval of our choice to administer the test of our choosing by ourselves in our own home. This will be our 3rd year of testing in this way, and we have yet to receive any grief over it. If you have any other questions, I'm happy to answer them. Thanks for reading!

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  7. As the parent, am I allowed to do a written assessment of my first grader still for this year (2014-2015) or has the rules changed? We live in NYC and send our documents to the central office for home schooling.

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    1. Missy, you are allowed to do so, but you need to inform your school district of your intention to do so. They have the right to tell you that you can't do it yourself and request that you use a certified teacher instead. If you have not yet turned in your 3rd quarter report, then just add a sentence at the end of that saying something like, "My son/daughter's annual assessment will be submitted in the form of a written narrative." If they do not question that, then you are good to go. If, however, you already turned in your 3rd quarter report and didn't specify what you planned to do for your annual assessment, then you'll need to send them a separate letter stating your intentions ASAP, and hope they don't have any issues with it.

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  8. Hello - thanks for this information. My question is - can I use a certified teacher from another state to do the narrative assessment.

    Many thanks

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    1. Hello! Unfortunately, you must use a New York State certified teacher for your annual assessment if a teacher is who you choose to use.

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  9. Forgive me I am a little confused.
    What I'm confused about is where do I sent all these documents to each time reporting? I sent my LOI to the NYC Central Office of Homeschooling and have completed my IHIP. But when do I send which documents to our school district? Or does the Central Office forward it? How do I find out what address of my school district and who to address it to? I am just a little worried, will this school district person even know what kind of letter is in front of them if they've never delt with a homeschooler before? Thanks in advance.

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    1. Jae, unfortunately, the way things work in the city is different than the way they work in the rest of the State. I'm not familiar with where homeschooling paperwork is supposed to go in the city. That said, here is a link to a blog by a lady who has a ton of useful info for homeschoolers in the city. You may want to consider contacting her with your city specific questions. Good luck! http://homeschoolinginnewyorkcity.blogspot.com/

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  10. I have a 15 year old autistic son with turets syndrome. Upon his entering kindergarten he began to experience bullying and was ostracized throughout his time in public school (k-6). My son was miserable in school and he refused to participate in any academic endeavors, I began home schooling my son in 2011, and this will be the first year that he will take a proficiency test. I was unsure what test was acceptable to NYC home schooling regulations. Somehow I found you, and all that you have shared has helped me very much. I am thankful and very grateful to you. It's past testing time, but I ordering a test from Setontesting.com. I was wondering if you might have a better suggestion as to where I can order a 10th grade test.

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  11. I am so glad that you found my blog helpful. Your kind words warmed my heart. For your tests, it will depend on which test you want to use. Seton is a pretty popular place to get the CAT, Iowa, and Stanford tests. You can also order the Stanford from Abeka online. BJU Press offers both the Stanford and the Iowa. Right now Christian Liberty has the CAT test, both the online and the paper versions, on sale for $20. That's about the best price I've seen. This year will be the last year that my kids can take the PASS test, so I'll be delving into all the testing options for next year very soon. I've been asked about testing a few times now, so I'll probably make a new blog post about testing once I've done my research. I hope this info has been helpful to you, though, and I wish you good luck on your journey.

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  12. Thank you so much for sharing all your knowledge about homeschooling! This is my first year homeschooling, and I have referred to your blog many times.

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    1. You're very welcome! I'm so glad it's been helpful to you!

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  13. Nurse CherieMay 25, 2017

    If my son is in grade 9 homeschooling, and we used the PASS test last yr for grade 8, can we use the grade 8 PASS test again, as long as it shows he improved from last yrs test? If that makes sense?

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    1. Yes, I believe you can. But you can probably only get away with it for one year. Really the only requirement is that the results show the equivalent of one year's growth, so if that is what the PASS results show for grade 9 on the grade 8 test, then it would meet the requirements.

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  14. Hello. I will be homeschooling my child beginning September 2017. He is in 7th grade. He is autistic and has been in a self contained class for grades k-6. He is just about at grade level in science and social studies but in both English and math he is 3+ years behind. Does anyone have any advice as to how to do year end assessments? I cannot wait to homeschool him. I know he will benefit academically and being at his home environment where he is most comfortable. I am concerned though because he had special needs and his academic levels vary so much, I'm not sure how to go about the end of year assessments. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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    1. Hi Alli. You'll need to choose to either test him or to do a written evaluation. It's up to you. The written evaluation would probably be easier when you're just starting out, and then you would test next year. For a written assessment, you just need to summarize the highlights of your school year, and those need not be in every subject. Assuming he progresses in each subject, though, you should state that as well. If you choose to test, I suggest the PASS test from Hewitt Homeschooling, because it allows you to test each subject at different levels, regardless of what grade he is in. I go into more depth about assessments here: http://foursquarepegs.blogspot.com/2013/06/annual-assessments-new-york-state.html. Your son's differing grade levels for differing subjects shouldn't make much difference in the way you do your assessments. Please do let me know if you have any more questions after this.

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  16. Thank you so much Marissa for all the information. That definitely puts my mind at ease knowing the PASS assessment tests can be done at different levels.

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    1. Alli, you're very welcome. I'm so glad to have helped. :-)

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