5 Easy Ways to Evaluate Your Homeschool Student Without Testing

Dec 9, 2015


While the world of public education is fraught with tests, homeschoolers are doing exceedingly well without testing.

I understand that some homeschool families still test due varying state regulations or personal preference, but many of us don't. 

We understand that a test is only a snapshot of a child's abilities

Assessing a student's progress, however, gives us a much more realistic view of a child's abilities, strengths, weaknesses, and progress.

But if we don't test, how do we know how our kids are doing?

There are plenty of ways to evaluate students without testing. Here is a quick list of five.

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Keep a portfolio. 

Keeping a portfolio is simple. It doesn't require a lot of effort or even a lot of paperwork. In fact, a few pieces from the beginning, middle, and end of the year will do. 

In this way, you'll be able to look back over the year and see the progress that was made - or wasn't. This will help you address any weakness and more forward with the areas they're strong in.

Use narration in your homeschool.

Narration is an excellent assessment tool. When a child narrates, whether oral or written, he is telling you exactly what he knows. This not only helps you assess what he knows, but what he doesn't know. It creates a special opportunity to correct facts or fill in missing information. 

Have your child make presentations.

Is your child an artist? Does she like to put on plays or skits? Maybe you have a science geek like I do. Science experiments are a blast (hopefully not literally!). Children are creative and love to show off what they know. Give them that opportunity!

Make mastery the goal!

Rather than worrying about if you're child is keeping up, focus on mastery as the overall goal. When your child has mastered a skill or concept, move on to the next. In this way, you're always observing the child's progress, noting her progress along the way.

Use notebooking in your homeschool.

Notebooking is a form of narration. When a child notebooks, he's creating a written record of his knowledge and progress. Using a mixture of words, colors, drawings, and objects to create a presentation will help your child better retain the information learned. 

As well, it's a presentation! One you can keep in a portfolio.

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  1. Hi, Michelle Cannon. I happened across your blog post. I wondered if you would mind if I posted the link to this post on my homeschool website for South Carolina families to read? I will give full credit and link to your blogging site.

    Great ideas and suggestions.

    Thank you.
    Angela Perry, UCHU-Accountability Association Director

    1. Angela, Thanks for your interest in my post. You're welcome to share an excerpt and/or the the link, as long as the entire post isn't duplicated.

  2. This is a fabulous post. I want to incorporate notebooking! I'm going to take a look at notebooking pages. Thanks so much for these great ideas. For me, the idea of testing is stressful.

    1. I don't test my kids or give them grades. I want them to learn because they want to gain knowledge. That's not going to happen if they're chasing grades.

  3. I prefer portfolios to testing because it shows much more of what our students are capable of doing, and without the stress of testing, especially for elementary kids.

    1. We are so unschoolish that portfolios are nearly impossible. HOWEVER, I don't have to report anything to anyone, so we left portfolios behind long ago.

  4. I love these ideas, I do quiz and do spelling tests but otherwise we are pretty much notebook and narration styled :)

    1. My kids have dyslexia, dysgraphia, and auditory processing disorder. I don't think we'd get very far with quizzes or spelling tests. LOL!

  5. I so completely agree with everything here. We used to use portfolios but since our state has relaxed that requirement a bit, I've been taking a break. It's must not fun making as many portfolios as I had to! I will probably do them again in the future. Right now we mainly use notebooking and narration for assessment, and they are fantastic ways to see progress.

    1. I only report attendance 4x a year by typing "here" on a web form. NO PORTFOLIOS FOR ME! ;-)

  6. Anonymous11/22/2016

    So you only report attendance and no grades? I have not homeschooled but am looking forward to it with my children. So colleges can still accept your transcripts without grades of completion? Will you be giving them your portfolios or copies of them?

    Thanks for your time!

    1. Florida doesn't require me to report grades. Our private school only requires attendance. Even if we schooled under the school board, they only require a portfolio review each year. That said, in the high school years, I do put grades on the transcript, but I am not required to report these to anyone. I also don't share them with my kids.


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