Assessment and Tracking Your Child's Progress

Before you choose a curriculum and start teaching, you'll want to know your child's current skill levels. If your child was previously in public school, you can use his or her last IEP documents and assessments. If you don't have this information or don't agree with it, you might:

  • See if you can find placement exams on the websites of curriculum kits,

  • Search online for grade-level placement tests,

  • Contact a BCBA or other professional to assess your child (recommended), or

  • Use books and assessments such as the "Basic Skills Checklists" below to assess your child at home. This book is fantastic and I use it frequently.

I have a free, printable homeschooling notebook that breaks down the assessment and goal-setting process into easy steps. You can also use this notebook for tracking and documenting your child's progress throughout the year. Get the notebook free here.

Once You've Assessed Your Child and Made Some Goals to Work On...

What are the best ways to test whether your child is mastering skills and track his or her progress?

 

When homeschooling, you have a lot of flexibility and options for how to measure progress. I'm sure you wouldn't be surprised to learn that I don't believe tests, grades, and report cards are necessarily the best ways to assess progress for most kids on the spectrum. So, let's look at some other options.

I've written about the following options below on this page: 

  1. Progress Through a Curriculum

  2. Portfolio Assessment

  3. Evaluating Your Child's Story-Writing Skills

  4. Make a Homeschool IEP

 

Progress Through a Curriculum

If you purchase a curriculum program, you'll be able to demonstrate your child's progress through mastery of the individual lessons. Many curriculum programs will include built-in tests and checks for understanding, so just saving your child's work through the curriculum program will demonstrate what he or she has learned so far. Many curriculum programs are ready-to-use right out of the box, so you can get started on this right away. Please see our curriculum page for more information.

 

Portfolio Assessment

A portfolio is a collection of samples of your child's school work and activities for the year. A portfolio can give a visual overview of what you've learned, and can even be like a scrapbook of your memories for that year. It could be fun and educational for your child to participate in putting together the portfolio as well. Some items you might include in the portfolio are:

 

  • Basic information: Your child's name, date of birth, and the dates of the beginning and ending of your school year.
     

  • Samples of your child's work for each subject area, put in chronological order (from the start of year to the end of the year). For example, in Texas, homeschoolers are required to teach (at a minimum) reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics, and good citizenship.* Of course, you'll adapt these subjects as necessary based on your child's current skills.
     

  • Samples of your child's work that reflect growth. You don't have to choose only your child's best work. You want your portfolio to show growth through the year, so choose work that demonstrates this.
     

  • Logs of what your child worked on (can be daily or weekly).
     

  • The scope and sequence of each curriculum program you're using. The scope and sequence is the list of the topics covered in the curriculum, in the order that you do them. If you are not using a curriculum, put a list of goals for your child for each subject.
     

  • Lists and descriptions of field trips and extracurricular activities, including photos of your child participating in these activities.
     

  • Any legal documents required by your state, such as medical records.
     

  • Please check with a local homeschooling organization in your area to find out if your state requires any other specific documents to be in your portfolio.

 

Autism Homeschool Success has a Homeschool Portfolio Template that you can download free.

 

*As of December, 2015. Please check with the Texas Homeschool Coalition for the most updated legal requirements. If you are turning in your portfolio to anyone for assessment, make sure that it is all copies of your child's work. You keep the portfolio with the originals.

 

References:

 

HSLDA: http://hslda.org/earlyyears/Testing.asp

 

Time4Learning: https://www.time4learning.com/homeschool_portfolios.shtml

 

Evaluating Your Child's Story Writing Skills

It can be tricky to figure out what your child's writing level is, since standardized testing often doesn't work well for children with autism. I find it helpful to get a sample of your child's writing and compare it to samples written by children at different grade levels. You'll find the writing samples that your child's writing most closely resembles, and use that a grade-level estimate of your child's current writing skills.

 

A great resource for this is Reading Rockets. On this page, they have writing samples of students in preschool through third grade. You'll want to look at multiple samples from each grade level to see which ones your child's writing matches best with overall.

 

You may be wondering how to get a writing sample from your child. If your child has the language skills, you can give him or her a picture and a blank paper and ask him or her to write a story about the picture. If this would not be a good match for your child's current language ability, you can have him or her fill in a story graphic organizer to get an idea of what he or she can come up with for a story.

 

Here are some graphic organizers you can use for a pre-assessment of your child's writing ability. You will want to have your child fill in the form without help. You can point out the description of each section and clarify these descriptions, but don't give your child examples or ideas. It feels weird not to provide help and prompts to help your child learn, but for now, you want to know what your child can do without help.

Make a Homeschool IEP

If published curriculum programs don't meet your child's needs for a particular subject, you can create your own homeschool IEP for your child for any subject. The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a written document that contains your child's current skill levels (present levels of performance), goals for the school year, and which special education and related services that you child will receive. You can apply this to your homeschool by setting goals for your child for the school year. If your child is receiving any other services, such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, music therapy or lessons, etc., you can list them in your IEP and portfolio. Make sure to list how often your child receives each service (for example, one 60 minute session per week).

 

For assessing your child's skills and figuring out a sequence to teach skills, I highly recommend the book, "Basic Skills Checklists." I use this book with lots of my kids to help break down different skills into teaching steps to know what order to teach different skills in and easily track progress on the skills.

To help develop your homeschool IEP, you can download my free Homeschool Portfolio Template.

Nothing on this website should be considered legal advice. You are advised to contact a homeschool organization, such as the Texas Homeschool Coalition or the HSLDA for answers to specific questions.

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