Tuesday, February 2, 2010

How Our State’s Required Annual Evaluation Undermines Our Homeschooling

The great state of _________ requires every homeschooled student between the ages of six and sixteen to undergo either yearly standardized testing or a portfolio evaluation. For many reasons (which I may go into at some other time), we’ve chosen the portfolio option for Girl 2. Some years we’ve done both. After six years, I can tell you that the yearly evaluation undermines rather than enhances my teaching of our younger daughter. Here’s how: I believe that Girl 2 is one of those non-mathematically inclined children who would have greatly benefitted from waiting for formal mathematics until age ten or so, but because we are required by the state to submit either a standardized test score or a portfolio evaluation of her math studies and abilities, we could not wait until age ten. So we’ve plunged ahead, working slowly and painstakingly through many a math lesson, sometimes with tears (on both our parts!) and with Girl 2’s growing dread and dislike of math. She declares at least once a week that she hates math and is bad at it. And I can only wonder how she’d feel about it if she’d been allowed to wait until she was ready for it, until her brain had matured and she’d stand a better chance of excelling. She might not love it, but I doubt she’d be convinced that she is a math dunce. The moral of the story: Sometimes the government’s attempts to improve education actually hinder it.

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