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The Pennsylvania Homeschooling Portfolio

UPDATE!!! As of October 31, 2014, the homeschool law in Pennsylvania has changed! We no longer need to submit a portfolio to the superintendent of our school district at the end of the school year!! We do, however, need to continue using an evaluator at the end of each year. The evaluator certification (whatever form or letter they give you) is now the only thing that has to be turned into the superintendent at the end of the year, and will be adequate proof that an appropriate education is being received! You do, however, still need to follow the law with regard to required subjects, days/hours, standardized testing in grades 3, 5, and 8, etc and show satisfactory proof of these things to your evaluator. Therefore, I will leave all the information below regarding "portfolios" to skim through and familiarize yourself with what an evaluator might expect to see.

"The portfolio shall consist of

a log, made contemporaneously with the instruction, which designates by title the reading materials used,

samples of any writings, worksheets, workbooks or creative materials used or developed by the student

and in grades three, five and eight results of nationally normed standardized achievement tests in reading/language arts and mathematics or the results of Statewide tests administered in these grade levels."

The portfolio can seem a little daunting the first time you do it. Here are a couple of tips, and I will also include a description and some pictures of the most recent portfolio I submitted and had approved.

1. Don't overcomply. The law requires you submit SAMPLES in your portfolio- so there is no need to turn in a huge binder full of all the work you did all year. Some people worry about how many samples they should submit- there really is no set amount officially required. I usually submit 3-5 samples of each required subject. The first year I did this, the school called and said I hadn't submitted enough. They asked me to bring in "all of your work, he wants to see everything you did." I politely declined, informing them that the law required samples and that I'd submitted samples. I said if they felt my portfolio didn't demonstrate that an appropriate education was being received (despite my evaluator's letter saying that one was), they could send me a certified letter saying so and detailing what they felt they needed to see more of and that I would then get them "a few more samples." That certified letter never came. Instead, at the end of that summer, I got a standard form letter letting me know that my portfolio had demonstrated that an appropriate education had been received and that I could pick it up at any time. The following two school years, I submitted the same number of samples and never had any further problems with the district. I figure if a district knows that YOU know the law and aren't willing to be bullied, they will often back off. And I figured the worst that would have happened was that they'd have sent that letter, and I'd have sent them a few more samples- I had being "new" to homeschooling on my side and could always have said "Oh, okay, I didn't know, I'm new" if they really pushed. But it never reached that point, and now I have a precedent of them accepting a more minimal portfolio from me, which I think is great!

2. Read the law for yourself. Then re-read it. And re-read it again. Unfortunately, it's vague in some places and there are a few things that are up for debate as to what they really mean. A case in point is the infamous "log." Some people feel that the "log" means you are to submit some sort of log of your daily activities. Others feel that the "log" means you are merely to submit a log of reading materials. I'm in that camp. I do NOT submit any sort of daily activity log- I submit a log of reading materials, by title only. My district has never questioned that. I can't swear that yours won't. But if it's your first year submitting a portfolio, you might want to consider just doing the log of reading materials. If they push, again, you can tell them, "Oh, okay, I didn't know, I'm new; I interpreted it to mean a log of reading materials." The thing is, once you submit more than you have to, they will likely expect you to ALWAYS submit more than you have to. And then they will start expecting other homeschoolers to submit more than they have to. Not what we want to perpetuate! But, again, read the law for yourself and make an educated decision- I'm just another homeschooling mom, so take what I say with a grain of salt. :)

Ok- now here is what I submitted in my portfolio for the 2010-2011 school year (Alexa had just finished 5th grade).

I purchased a $0.92 1" "Economy" binder at Walmart. The first thing I put in it was a cover sheet on which I'd typed: "Homeschooling Portfolio For (student's name) 2010-2011 School Year. Return to: (My name), Supervisor, (my contact info).

Right after that I put a printed sheet which consisted of "Excerpts From the Pennsylvania Home Education Law" with the word "samples" highlighted in yellow. I'd taken to doing that after the "he wants to see everything" fiasco. ;)

I got it here:


(There is a TON of helpful information on that site for PA homeschoolers, by the way! Lots of great info, useful forms, samples of things people turned in, lists of evaluators, and so on).

Next, I had a section labeled "Evaluator's Letter" and this consisted of the "Evaluation of Educational Progress" form my evaluator gives after an evaluation.

Next, I had a section labeled "Standardized Test" and this consisted of the standardized test I had my daughter take since she was in 5th grade last year and that was a required testing year. This section can be left out if your child is not in 3rd, 5th, or 8th grade.

Next, I had a section labeled "Attendance Statement." Some people use calendars to demonstrate that they met the time requirements (180 days OR 900 hours of instruction at the elementary level). I use a brief, typed page headed "Attendance Statement" which then goes on to say: "Our homeschooling lifestyle ensures life and learning are inextricable and as such I state that we have completed more than the minimum of 180 days of learning this year (as further attested to in my Supervisor's affidavit, submitted at the beginning of the school year)." I think this could be enough, but if you use a packaged curriculum, you could also throw in something like "and as further evidenced by the fact that we completed a 36 week curriculum in addition to educational and life pursuits outside of curriculum materials."

Next, I had a section labeled "Summary and Reading Material Log."

Now, a "summary" is NOT a portfolio requirement. However, I chose to include one because I feel that by submitting a "summary," I can get away with submitting more minimal samples. My summary basically lists each "required subject" and then briefly describes what sorts of things we did for those required subjects. This is also useful for things like music, art and P.E., where it may be more difficult to provide "samples."

For examples of the "Summaries" I have used, see sidebar to left, under "Useful Forms & Things."

In this section, I included my summary, and then a page headed "Log of Reading Materials - 2010-2011 School Year" and my daughter's name. I included the books my daughter had read on her own, the books she and I had read together, textbooks we'd used, and periodicals. This is an undated log listed by title only- no dates, no authors. Again, *I* interpret the "log" as being a log of reading materials designated by title. Again, *my* district accepts this. Again, *you* have to read the law for yourself and use your own interpretation/judgment in this matter.

Lastly, I had a section labeled "Samples."

I started this with an itemized list of what I'd included by way of samples arranged by required subject. This isn't necessary, but I just chose to do it that way. In some areas of this itemized list, instead of listing specific samples, (i.e. "Copy of 12/22/10 book report on "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"), I referred them back to my summary (i.e. "Refer to "Summary" to read more about the various things we did for physical education").

I then included 3-5 samples of each required subject:

English, to include spelling, consisted of 3 samples.

English, to include reading, consisted of a "refer to log of reading materials" statement.

English, to include writing, consisted of 5 writing samples.

Arithmetic consisted of 5 samples.

Science consisted of 4 samples.

Geography consisted of 3 samples (two of mapwork, one being a photo of a wooden puzzle we'd made of our state).

History of the U.S. and Pennsylvania consisted of 4 samples.

Civics consisted of 2 samples (a "Life, Liberty & Pursuit of Happiness" word collage and a handwritten page consisting of a few short paragraphs about the Constitution).

Safety Ed consisted of 2 samples- a Red Cross Learn-to-Swim achievement card from swim lessons and a fire safety crossword puzzle.

Health and Physiology referred them to our summary and log of reading materials.

Phys. Ed consisted of 1 sample- a copy of a lesson plan provided at the Homeschool PE class at the Y. (In the past I've also used a homeschool bowling league certificate). You can also just refer them to your summary if you decide to use one.

Music consisted of 1 sample- a "Meet the Orchestra" Scavenger Hunt Worksheet found online. You can also just refer them to your summary if you decide to use one.

Art consisted of a few photos of art projects we've done this year. In the past, I've used certificates from summer art camp/classes. You can also just refer them to your summary if you decide to use one.

That was our entire portfolio, and it was accepted and "approved" without question.

Incidentally, while I submit my portfolio for the past year, I also submit my Affidavit for the coming year. See sidebar to left under "Useful Forms & Things" for a sample of an Affidavit and also for sample Objectives, which are submitted with the Affidavit.

Please also see Pauline's website at www.askpauline.com for a lot more useful information than I could ever hope to provide here in regard to portfolios, homeschool law, samples and so on. :)

Oh, and one last thing: EVERYTHING I submit to the district is a PHOTOCOPY. I don't give them originals of anything. Then I don't care how long they keep it, if they lose it, if for some reason I don't get it back, I know exactly what I sent them, etc. The portfolio can be mailed to the district (certified mail, return receipt requested) so that you never have to have any in person contact with them (which you don't- if yours is one of those districts that tries telling you that they want you to make an appointment to sit down and "go over" the portfolio- um, no!!!! You do NOT have to do that!!!). Or you can drop it off in person, but if you do that you might want to ask whoever you drop it off with to sign something saying that they received it. If you go that route, I recommend going in there with a pre-typed, dated, itemized list of what you are dropping off, and then you can politely ask the person you leave it with to just sign indicating that they received it- cover your bases!


OKAY! So, again, none of this is necessary any longer with regard to submitting a portfolio to the superintendent's office as of 10/31/14! You will need to hire an evaluator and show your evaluator that you covered the required subjects, test results if applicable, and a log of reading materials at the very least. Some evaluators might actually expect a daily activity sort of log- I've heard of at least one requiring that. Mine does not and is fine just seeing that we covered required subjects, that I had a log of reading materials to provide, that we tested in necessary years. If you already have an evaluator you like, continue using them and showing them whatever you've always shown them! If you are contacting a new evaluator that you are considering hiring, certainly ask them what they would expect to see from you. In my experience most evaluators are on your side and not looking to interrogate you or your children! I will continue to use the evaluator I've always used, and will continue to show him what I've always shown him. But now I don't have to put together photocopies of select samples to turn into my district, saving myself time, money, energy, etc. Oh! And one more thing- with the new law, a high school diploma issued by a parent/supervisor is now to be legally recognized just the same as one issued from the Commonwealth! So, great news for Pennsylvania homeschoolers all around! :)


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 24th, 2013 06:24 pm (UTC)
can I get away not having the evaluation done? How much does it cost? can I get my sister-in-law to do it, she is a teacher, or do i need to hire one with a title "homeschool evaluator?" thank you..please email me back at emprost @ ptd dot net...i need some answers.
Jul. 24th, 2013 07:48 pm (UTC)
Re: evaluator

I highly recommend Pauline's website, www.askpauline.com, for information on PA homeschooling and PA home ed law. Here is her section on evaluations/evaluators:


Hope this helps!

Jul. 9th, 2014 11:37 pm (UTC)
thank goodness
I am so glad I ran across your page! This is going to be our first homeschool year. My daughter is going to be in fourth grade and you've made it sound simpler and more like what fits for my family.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


Shawn - 40, Husband, Dad, Tattoo Artist, Body Piercer, Business Owner, Saltwater Aquarium Enthusiast, Cook, Mr. Fix-It.

Nance - 41, Wife, Homeschooling Mom, Bookworm, Writer, Field Tripper, List Maker, Planner, Chauffeur.

Melissa - 22, Special Needs. Is in a sheltered workshop/life skills day program. Likes music, movies, shopping, and reading.

Alexa - 14, Left public school in March of 2009 and has been home since, happily homeschooling with Oak Meadow and an eclectic mix of other things. Currently in 8th grade. Enjoys reading, writing, art, singing and music, theater/performing, doing her nails, and sleepovers with friends.

Ben - 9, Has never been to any outside school. Currently doing 3rd grade at home. Enjoys computer, video and board games, especially Minecraft and shooter games, silly jokes, soccer, rough-housing, and occasional cuddling and reading.

Adelaide - 15 months and my little ray of sunshine. :) Enjoys pointing at things, chasing the cat, trying to pull all the books off my bookshelves, eating, playing, and snuggling.

We are a relaxed/eclectic, secular homeschooling family living in Pennsylvania and thoroughly enjoying Life Without School!


Alexa is using: Oak Meadow 8 Civics; Oak Meadow 8 English; Oak Meadow Basic Physical Science; Story of the World Middle Ages; and Teaching Textbooks Math Pre-Algebra.

Ben is loosely using the Oak Meadow 3rd Grade curriculum (minus the math), Teaching Textbooks Math 3, and Reading Eggspress.

I've always been a fairly relaxed homeschooler. While I've buckled down more this year with my 8th grader, in general we do school around life, not life around school. We use mainly a fun, hands on curriculum that isn't overly time consuming and isn't dry or textbookish, and we're always willing to drop it for the time being if something fun, interesting, or educational comes up outside the house. Living is learning!


Welcome To My Blog!


The ABCs Of Relaxed Homeschooling

A Perfect Day

Affidavits, Objectives & Samples, Oh My!

A Kindergarten Dropout

Homeschooling, A Year Later

Preschool Or Not?

I Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way

A Day In The Life Of A New Homeschooler

Homeschool Poem

What Does A Homeschooler Do Every Day?

What Does A Homeschooler Do Every Day Part 2

What About Socialization?

Why Homeschool?!

Dear Judy Molland

What I Really Mean When I Say I Homeschool


Funnix Beginning Reading Program Review

Getting Started With Spanish Review

Growing, Growing Strong Review

Insect Lore Negative Review

Life of Fred Math Review

Little Passports Review

Meet The Masters Review

Movie Review: Snowmen

Oak Meadow Review

Sentence Composing For Elementary School Review

Story Of The World Review

Teaching Textbooks Math Review

Times Tales Review

Typing Instructor For Kids Platinum Review


Alexa's Third Grade Book Log

Alexa's Fourth Grade Book Log

Alexa's Fifth Grade Book Log

Alexa's Sixth Grade Book Log, Year 1

Alexa's Sixth Grade Book Log, Year 2

Alexa's Seventh Grade Book Log

Alexa's Eighth Grade Book Log

Ben's Pre-K Book Log

Ben's Kindergarten Book Log

Ben's First Grade Book Log

Ben's Second Grade Book Log

Ben's Third Grade Book Log


Oak Meadow Kindergarten Schedule Sample, With Pics

Oak Meadow 4th Grade Schedule Sample, With Pics

Oak Meadow 5th Grade Schedule Sample, With Pics

Our 6th Grade Stretched Over Two Years Plan

Some Of Our Most Fun/Interesting Projects & Activities, Oak Meadow 5th Grade


Homeschool Affidavit

Homeschool Objectives, Elementary and Secondary Level

Homeschool Portfolio, UPDATED

Summary, To Include With Portfolio, Example 1

Summary, To Include With Portfolio, Example 2

Standardized Test Results


Books Featuring Homeschooled Characters, Titles A-I

Books Featuring Homeschooled Characters, Titles J-R

Books Featuring Homeschooled Characters, Titles S-Z

52 Books In 52 Weeks, Mom & Daughter Style, 2011

Homeschooling Quotes & Funnies

Our Fresh Air Fund Experience

Funny Things Alexa Has Said

Funny Things Ben Has Said

My Favorite Links

How I Got Alexa's Eczema Under Control!

My TTC, Pregnancy, and Miscarriage Saga, PART 1

My TTC, Pregnancy, and Miscarriage Saga, PART 2

My TTC, Pregnancy, and Miscarriage Saga, Part 3

The Family Who Wouldn't Change The Toilet Paper


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