Homeschool Portfolio Review

It’s over.

I survived.

Homeschoolers in Maryland are required to have a portfolio review, generally twice each year, either with someone from the county or from an umbrella school.  The law is fairly vague, requiring evidence of regular and thorough instruction in eight subjects (English, math, social studies, science, art, PE, music, and health).  But the umbrella schools I looked at required more, like a Bible curriculum, and of course you have to pay for the privilege of having someone decide if you’re properly educating your own kids. I decided to take my chances with the county.  It’s free, the law is vague, and I am confident that my kids are getting a fantastic education.  Bring it, county reviewer.

Today was my review. I spent HOURS preparing these portfolios.  Hours copying worksheets and tests and filling in dates on every single one. The form I was given also required me to state how many minutes per week we spent doing each subject, so I spent some time trying to get that all figured out.

I went to the nearby middle school to meet with my assigned reviewer.  She does not have a positive reputation in the homeschool group I’m a part of.  Multiple people have complained that she is rude and overreaching and that she had failed them in certain subjects. So I was very nervous going in to my review.

Right away, she started flipping through Abby’s portfolio and saying there wasn’t enough. My heart sank. Was she going to make me go home and add to these books to show her more? Was I going to have to come back?

Because she normally reviews families mid-year and again at this time of year, she was really looking for things dated in the second half of the year.  But because this was my only review this year, I assumed she’d want to see things from the full year, so that’s what I included.  So there wasn’t as much from the spring semester as she wanted.

Once I explained that, she calmed down a little.  She was happy to see our lesson plans and stated that “these help.”  But she told me multiple times that “going forward” she would need me to “better capture the instruction.”

She didn’t even look at the “minutes of instruction per week” part.

She was NOT satisfied with what we’d done for PE – namely, playing soccer in the fall.  I thought that was enough. No. The state wants to know what my children have done for PE this spring. So we were marked “modification needed” in PE.

However, she did “pass” us overall, so I suppose I can be grateful for that.



I’ve already paid $50 for the “privilege” of having someone from my church review me next year.  I suppose (I hope!) it will be better than going into a public school and asking the government if I’m meeting their standards. (As if I care!)

I’m glad it’s over, but I find it highly offensive that I have to report to anyone about the way I’m raising my children. Where does it end? Where’s the line? Shall we submit our meal plans to the government for approval?  Is there a toothbrushing form I can fill out? Is there a white-glove-test government office to check up on the cleanliness of our home? My parenting choices, including education, are none of the government’s business.

As the author of this post says,

Unfortunately, because of mis-education many believe the State is responsible for educating our children. This is not the same thing as the State being responsible for providing an option for education. Rather many presume that the State has the authority to force their version of education on parents and their children.

That is exactly it. That same website reports that eight states require no notification at all for homeschoolers! I’d officially like to move to one of them. (Except Alaska. I don’t want to move to Alaska.)

At any rate, I have survived the intrusive government review.  Tonight, there shall be ice cream!

About waymel

Navy wife. Homeschooling mom. Adoptive parent. Pianist. Introvert. One who loves quiet and beauty.
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12 Responses to Homeschool Portfolio Review

  1. loveandkate says:

    I’m so glad it went okay, but COMPLETELY AGREE that the whole thing is offensive. I would be livid. Ugh!

  2. Rebecca says:

    I agree! And I’m glad it’s over!

  3. jenhamrick says:

    TRUTH. Leave us alone, government.
    Thankfully in Ohio the portfolio assessors, while expensive, are way more lenient than yours was.
    I’m glad you all “passed” [grumble grumble] and I hope you enjoy your ice cream!

  4. Robyn says:

    whew! glad it’s over! It’s dumb that they even think they can tell you how to educate your kids.

  5. shirley wilmoth says:

    I can certainly see your mamma claws came out through this whole thing and mine would have too but I am glad it is over. You are the best teacher they have ever met. Have an extra scoop of ice cream.

  6. Joy Pitzer says:

    I’ll stick my neck out to say that what some consider an “option for education” unfortunately misses the mark, both in public/private school and homeschool arenas. For that reason, I am glad there is some accountability for the choices made in educating our children. Knowing you, I am confident that you are knocking it out of the park – if we could only clone you for the teachers that aren’t. My head nearly exploded one day overhearing a homeschool mom say that she was not concerned that her junior high girls were grades behind in their math scores because soon they would be married and having babies – neither act needing a math education. My head hurts too when my daughter’s music teacher thinks watching Disney movies counts as music education. Learning, no matter where, will only be as good as the teacher and learner make it; but accountability sets the target to aim for. Keep up the great work, and ice cream for everyone!

    • waymel says:

      Hey Joy! I just don’t think the government gets to decide where that mark is. What the government thinks is important and what I think are important are often quite different. Obviously the state doesn’t value any sort of religious or even moral training, but in a classical view, the point of education IS virtue. Not a job. So we (the state and I) have different goals from the get-go. You might not agree with everyone’s parenting decisions, but the point is that these things are up to the parent to decide. I’m in favor of a very limited government in general, though: security, infrastructure, and currency…that’s about it! 🙂

  7. It’s difficult to realize that all the normative pounding we undergo as children, we press out (like lemonade) during the rest of our lives. So much for being dog trained.

  8. cristinareintjes says:

    That sounds awful! We’re in VA and I could choose between getting reviewed or giving the kids a standardized test. I picked testing out of fear of what you went through although I’ve heard things aren’t as bad here. The testing for my just finished first grader was a nightmare though! Apparently they think rising second graders should all be reading fluently and most of the test involved my not great reader lying on the ground crying that he couldn’t do it. I think I’ll risk the assessment next year 😬

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