Whether you educate your child in a public school or from home, accurate records need to be kept. There are many reasons why this is extremely important to both you and your child. This article will explain what you need to keep a record of, for how long you should keep records and a few little extras that will help you along the way. Besides, the state of New York has a lot of different regulations for homeschool record keeping, so you must know precisely how to keep homeschool records ahead of time.
Homeschool Record Keeping
Recordkeeping in and of itself is not a complicated process. However, it can be hard to remember to do it. Why that is, I will never understand, but it is. Maybe it’s because of the hustle and bustle of the day that we usually forget to take attendance. While I teach in public education, I have many friends who are homeschooling their children, and all of us have the same issues when it comes to recordkeeping.
But whether you homeschool your child or your child goes to a public school, these records help the state monitor a child’s progress leading up to graduation. At the end of their education, homeschooled children must be prepared to go into the workforce, trade school, or college. Homeschool children need to pass the same standardized test to get into college as any other student. This is where all these records come in, showing that your student is prepared for all of this.
How Do You Keep Homeschool Attendance Records?
One of the biggest tips I can give on how to keep homeschool attendance records is to make sure that you carve out one particular time of the day every single day to take note of this. The second thing is, to make sure that either your attendance book or app is available readily and in plain sight. I always found the easiest when my attendance book was right in front of me to remember to do this every single day. When I switched all of my rosters to an electronic method, I found it much more difficult to remember to update. I still keep paper copies of attendance because it’s easier for me.
One easy way to keep track of attendance is to print out record tracking pages and use them every day. It’s easy to add pages to a notebook that you use every day and makes for good record keeping. At the front of every binder that you have, you may even keep a checklist that will help you make sure that you are fulfilling the requirements mandated for your child’s education every day. This way, you will never get confused or lost on where you are at.
What Should I Keep in My Homeschool Binder?
Yes…a BINDER! If you are tech-savvy, there is no reason why you can’t keep an online record of your homeschooling, but I highly recommend keeping a binder. Label your binders by school year and place them on a visible shelf in your home classroom. Keeping homeschool records that are accurate and readily available will help you submit required quarterly reports as required by New York State law. This compiled binder of information is your students’ holistic portfolio that demonstrates to the state that your child is meeting all the necessary specifications and include all listed below.
You must keep and include accurate attendance records that are vitally important when homeschooling, as the student is required by law to attend so many hours per year. As mentioned above, there are quarterly checks for attendance that must be submitted to the state to ensure that your child has met the hourly requirements dictated by the state of New York by the end of the year.
Student School Work Samples
Within this binder, make sure that you keep student work samples from each unit of study completed and required by New York. Do not work pieces that are held should display progress and the various subject matter and curriculum. Further, consider these different work samples as proof that you have covered the various subjects and that your student is progressing as needed. For example, you can keep a copy of your students’ notebooks to show growth in daily writing ability.
It is required by New York State that this binder (also called the IHIP or Individualized Home Instruction Plan) contain the following:
- A list of the syllabi used
- Curriculum materials
- Textbooks and/or lesson plans of instruction of the various subjects necessary
How Long Should I Keep Homeschool Records?
According to frequently asked questions on the New York State homeschool laws page, parents do not have an obligation to keep records for any period. However, many other homeschooling parents recommend it best and highly recommend that you keep a copy of your child’s homeschooling records for at least two years. Further, this section states that the district in which a child is under the educational jurisdiction must keep a record of the students’ annual worksheets (annual progress report) for six years after the student has graduated from high school.
Requirements by Grade Level
Like with public education, children who attend homeschool must complete the required curriculum and show progress in those subjects quarterly and at the end of each school year. There are specific curriculum necessities and hourly requirements that are requisite by the state of New York. Because there are specific requirements for the number of hours completed during the school year, homeschool record-keeping daily is necessary.
Grades 1st Through 6th
Students in the first through the sixth grade I require to complete the equivalent of 180 school days. Broken down, it is necessary that students in these grade levels complete 900 hours of school for the entire year. Furthermore, the following subjects are covered during grades one through six: math, reading, writing, spelling, the English language, geography, United States history, science, health education, music, visual arts, physical education, bilingual education, or ESL where needed.
Grades 7 & 8
While students in these grade levels are required to attend the same amount of school days, there are a higher number of hours that must be completed from this point on. For grades seven through 12, homeschooled children need to complete 990 hours to meet the mandated requirement. The following subject requirements are as listed:
English (two units); history and geography (two units); science (two units); mathematics (two units); physical education (regularly); health education (regularly); art (one-half unit); music (one-half unit); practical arts (regularly); and library skills (regularly). The units required herein are cumulative requirements for both grades seven and eight.
Grades 9 Through 12 (High School)
During the student’s high school career, homeschool record-keeping becomes critical in contributing to their overall transcript and ability to get into various higher education institutions. As mentioned above, students in these grade levels need to complete at least 990 hours of schooling during the course of the school year. Students must attain a total of 24 credits as displayed through their report and then onto their transcript.
High school students must show they have completed the following courses successfully on their transcript. The transcript is then reported to the district and state:
English/reading (four units); social studies (four units), which includes one unit of American history, one-half unit in participation in government, and one-half unit of economics; mathematics (two units); science (two units); art and/or music (one unit); health education (one-half unit); physical education (two units); and three units of electives.
A homeschool student’s academic transcript must also reflect the subject matter of other required courses such as patriotism and citizenship, health education as it pertains to drug and alcohol, highway and bicycle safety, and lastly, fire prevention.
Does My Child Still Have to Take an Annual Assessment?
Yes. Homeschool students have to complete standardized testing every school year. Parents can select who will administer their child’s test from a list of official proctors. The district superintendent, in which the child would attend school, decides this list of proctors. Parents do not score this test as it is a standardized annual assessment. Homeschool students must score 33% above the national average on this exam or show academic growth in comparison to the previous school year.
Once you understand all of the laws and regulations that allow parents to homeschool their kids, it becomes a simple process. Make sure to read not just here, but thoroughly through New York’s requirements so that you know anything required of you. Further, plan time accordingly to use your homeschool records binder daily. Lastly, when it comes time for you to submit reports, don’t give the district your original copies. Instead, it is good to print copies of them just if they might get lost in the review process.