Homeschool Math Curricula Recommendations

While I restrain myself from offering commentary on websites and apps for online teaching purposes, I spend a great deal of time and money perusing homeschool curricula. In fact, I have an entire room with floor to ceiling bookshelves devoted to my homeschool curricula library. As part of my homeschool advocacy work, I devote a lot of time to helping people find the right curricula for their child. Feel free to touch base with me about it.
Here are some of my favorite math curricula:
Kindergarten

  • Math: 
    • RightStart Level A — Montessori-based, lots of manipulatives (you do absolutely need their kit), very hands-on, expensive, rigorous, scripted (good for busy parents). The review is built into games, parent-intensive. My personal favorite for kindergarten. Suitable for children with learning disabilities.
    • Singapore Math Essentials — just what it reads, the essential bits of kindergarten math. Easy to use. Singapore Math is justifiably regarded as a high-quality math program. 
    • Saxon K — one of the favorites among homeschoolers for decades. Many engineers come out of the Saxon math curricula. Scripted, mostly aloud, intensive interleaved, interval spaced, varied retrieval practice. Parent intensive, but short lessons (15-20 min). Required manipulatives kit sold separately. Often available inexpensively, used. Suitable for children with learning disabilities.
    • Miquon Math Orange and Red — very different. Based around Cuisenaire rods, it’s all hands-on, no to very little reading. K-2 only. Required teacher’s books sold separately. Very conceptual, good for later transition to Singapore or Beast Academy. Suitably primarily for parents who themselves are math teachers or early childhood specialists.

Grade 1:

  • Math:
    • Math Mammoth Grade 1– written to the student (a fluent reader could probably do this without much support), very high quality, easy to use, excessive practice, inexpensive, no manipulatives, very conceptual, not much review. Comes with fillable PDFs, so a student could use an iPad or similar to do the work (no need to print). 
    • RightStart Level B — Montessori-based, lots of manipulatives (you do absolutely need their kit), very hands-on, expensive, rigorous, scripted (good for busy parents). The review is built into games, parent-intensive. Suitable for children with learning disabilities.
    • Singapore Math Primary 1 — Singapore Math is best-in-class for math curricula. However, it is parent-intensive, expensive, and has lots of moving parts (2 textbooks per year, 2 workbooks per year, 2 necessary home instructor’s guides). Manipulatives are required and must be purchased separately or scavenged from around the house. Very little interleaved, interval spaced review. Not suitable for children with a math learning disability. Renowned word problems available in yet another book. (tip: use the grade below, not the current grade)
    • Saxon 1 — one of the favorites among homeschoolers for decades. Many engineers come out of the Saxon math curricula. Scripted, mostly aloud, intensive interleaved, interval spaced, varied retrieval practice. Parent intensive, but short lessons (15-20 min). Required manipulatives kit sold separately. Often available inexpensively, used. Suitable for children with learning disabilities.
    • Miquon Math Blue and Green — very different. Based around Cuisenaire rods, it’s all hands-on, no to very little reading. K-2 only. Required teacher’s books sold separately. Very conceptual, good for later transition to Singapore or Beast Academy. Suitably primarily for parents who themselves are math teachers or early childhood specialists.

Grade 2:

  • Math:
    • Math Mammoth Grade 2— written to the student (a fluent reader could probably do this without much support), very high quality, easy to use, excessive practice, inexpensive, no manipulatives, very conceptual, not much review. Comes with fillable PDFs, so a student could use an iPad or similar to do the work (no need to print). 
    • RightStart Level C — Montessori-based, lots of manipulatives (you do absolutely need their kit), very hands-on, expensive, rigorous, scripted (good for busy parents). The review is built into games, parent-intensive. Suitable for children with learning disabilities.
    • Singapore Math Primary 2 — Singapore Math is best-in-class for math curricula. However, it is parent-intensive, expensive, and has lots of moving parts (2 textbooks per year, 2 workbooks per year, 2 necessary home instructor’s guides). Manipulatives are required and must be purchased separately or scavenged from around the house. Very little interleaved, interval spaced review. Not suitable for children with a math learning disability. Renowned word problems available in yet another book. (tip: use the grade below, not the current grade)
    • Saxon 2 — one of the favorites among homeschoolers for decades. Many engineers come out of the Saxon math curricula. Scripted, mostly aloud, intensive interleaved, interval spaced, varied retrieval practice. Parent intensive, but short lessons (15-20 min) Required manipulatives kit sold separately. Often available inexpensively, used. Suitable for children with learning disabilities.
    • Miquon Math Yellow and Purple — very different. Based around Cuisenaire rods, it’s all hands-on, no to very little reading. K-2 only. Required teacher’s books sold separately. Very conceptual, good for later transition to Singapore or Beast Academy. Suitably primarily for parents who themselves are math teachers or early childhood specialists.
    • Beast Academy — Designed by math competition academics. Highly conceptual, typically much more difficult than one would expect. Comic book style (children will either love it or hate it). Expensive, with four workbooks and four textbooks per grade level. Some levels available online. Feeds directly into the Art of Problem Solving curricula.

Grade 3:

  • Math:
    • Math Mammoth Grade 3— written to the student (a fluent reader could probably do this without much support), very high quality, easy to use, excessive practice, inexpensive, no manipulatives, very conceptual, not much review. Comes with fillable PDFs, so a student could use an iPad or similar to do the work (no need to print). 
    • RightStart Level D — Montessori-based, lots of manipulatives (you do absolutely need their kit), very hands-on, expensive, rigorous, scripted (good for busy parents). The review is built into games, parent-intensive. Suitable for children with learning disabilities.
    • Singapore Math Primary 3 — Singapore Math is best-in-class for math curricula. However, it is parent-intensive, expensive, and has lots of moving parts (2 textbooks per year, 2 workbooks per year, 2 necessary home instructor’s guides). Manipulatives are required and must be purchased separately or scavenged from around the house. Very little interleaved, interval spaced review. Not suitable for children with a math learning disability. Renowned word problems available in yet another book. (tip: use the grade below, not the current grade)
    • Saxon 3 — one of the favorites among homeschoolers for decades. Many engineers come out of the Saxon math curricula. Scripted, mostly aloud, intensive interleaved, interval spaced, varied retrieval practice. Parent intensive, but short lessons (15-20 min). Required manipulatives kit sold separately. Often available inexpensively, used. Suitable for children with learning disabilities.
    • Beast Academy 2 — Designed by math competition academics. Highly conceptual, typically much more difficult than one would expect. Comic book style (children will either love it or hate it). Expensive, with four workbooks and four textbooks per grade level. Some levels available online. Feeds directly into the Art of Problem Solving curricula.

Grade 4:

  • Math:
    • Math Mammoth Grade 4 — written to the student (a fluent reader could probably do this without much support), very high quality, easy to use, excessive practice, inexpensive, no manipulatives, very conceptual, not much review. Comes with fillable PDFs, so a student could use an iPad or similar to do the work (no need to print). 
    • RightStart Level E — Montessori-based, lots of manipulatives (you do absolutely need their kit), very hands-on, expensive, rigorous, scripted (good for busy parents). The review is built into games, parent-intensive. Suitable for children with learning disabilities.
    • Singapore Math Primary 4 — Singapore Math is best-in-class for math curricula. However, it is parent-intensive, expensive, and has lots of moving parts (2 textbooks per year, 2 workbooks per year, 2 necessary home instructor’s guides). Manipulatives are required and must be purchased separately or scavenged from around the house. Very little interleaved, interval spaced review. Not suitable for children with a math learning disability. Renowned word problems available in yet another book. (tip: use the grade below, not the current grade)
    • Saxon 5/4 — one of the favorites among homeschoolers for decades. Many engineers come out of the Saxon math curricula. Written to the student. No instructor guide available.  Intensive interleaved, interval spaced, varied retrieval practice. Often available inexpensively, used. Suitable for children with learning disabilities who can read well or whose parent will read to them.
    • Beast Academy 4 — Designed by math competition academics. Highly conceptual, typically much more difficult than one would expect. Comic book style (children will either love it or hate it). Expensive, with four workbooks and four textbooks per grade level. Some levels available online. Feeds directly into the Art of Problem Solving curricula.

Grade 5:

  • Math:
    • Math Mammoth Grade 5 — written to the student (a fluent reader could probably do this without much support), very high quality, easy to use, excessive practice, inexpensive, no manipulatives, very conceptual, not much review. Comes with fillable PDFs, so a student could use an iPad or similar to do the work (no need to print). 
    • RightStart Level F — Montessori-based, lots of manipulatives (you do absolutely need their kit), very hands-on, expensive, rigorous, scripted (good for busy parents). The review is built into games, parent-intensive. Suitable for children with learning disabilities.
    • Singapore Math Primary 5 — Singapore Math is best-in-class for math curricula. However, it is parent-intensive, expensive, and has lots of moving parts (2 textbooks per year, 2 workbooks per year, 2 necessary home instructor’s guides). Manipulatives are required and must be purchased separately or scavenged from around the house. Very little interleaved, interval spaced review. Not suitable for children with a math learning disability. Renowned word problems available in yet another book. (tip: use the grade below, not the current grade)
    • Saxon 6/5 — one of the favorites among homeschoolers for decades. Many engineers come out of the Saxon math curricula. Written to the student. No instructor guide available.  Intensive interleaved, interval spaced, varied retrieval practice. Often available inexpensively, used. Suitable for children with learning disabilities who can read well or whose parent will read to them.
    • Beast Academy 5 — Designed by math competition academics. Highly conceptual, typically much more difficult than one would expect. Comic book style (children will either love it or hate it). Expensive, with four workbooks and four textbooks per grade level. Some levels available online. Feeds directly into the Art of Problem Solving curricula.

Grade 6:

  • Math:
    • Math Mammoth Grade 6 — written to the student (a fluent reader could probably do this without much support), very high quality, easy to use, excessive practice, inexpensive, no manipulatives, very conceptual, not much review. Comes with fillable PDFs, so a student could use an iPad or similar to do the work (no need to print). 
    • RightStart Level G — Montessori-based, lots of manipulatives (you do absolutely need their kit), very hands-on (this year is intensive drawing in geometrical forms), expensive, rigorous. Written to the student. No instructor guide available.  Suitable for children with learning disabilities who are fluent readers, or whose parents can read to them.
    • Singapore Math Primary 6 — Singapore Math is best-in-class for math curricula. However, it is parent-intensive, expensive, and has lots of moving parts (2 textbooks per year, 2 workbooks per year, 2 necessary home instructor’s guides). Manipulatives are required and must be purchased separately or scavenged from around the house. Very little interleaved, interval spaced review. Not suitable for children with a math learning disability. Renowned word problems available in yet another book. (tip: use the grade below, not the current grade)
    • Saxon 7/6 — one of the favorites among homeschoolers for decades. Many engineers come out of the Saxon math curricula. Written to the student, very little parent explanation required. Intensive interleaved, interval spaced, varied retrieval practice. Often available inexpensively, used. Suitable for children with learning disabilities who can read well or whose parent will read to them.
    • Art of Problem Solving Pre-Algebra — Designed by math competition academics. Highly conceptual, typically much more difficult than one would expect. Includes access to online practice and videos. Available as an online class through AoPS and other online boutique schools.

Grade 7:

  • Math:
    • Math Mammoth Grade 7 — Pre-Algebra. Written to the student (a fluent reader could probably do this without much support), very high quality, easy to use, excessive practice, inexpensive, no manipulatives, very conceptual, not much review. Comes with fillable PDFs, so a student could use an iPad or similar to do the work (no need to print). 
    • RightStart Level H — Montessori-based, lots of manipulatives (you do absolutely need their kit), very hands-on (this year is a geometrical approach to algebra and an intro to trigonometry), expensive, rigorous. Written to the student. Suitable for children with learning disabilities who are fluent readers, or whose parents can read to them.
    • Singapore Math Dimensions 7 — First half of Algebra I. Singapore Math is best-in-class for math curricula. However, it is parent-intensive, expensive, and has lots of moving parts (2 textbooks per year, 2 workbooks per year, 2 teaching guides, 2 solutions manuals). Very little interleaved, interval spaced review. Not suitable for children with a math learning disability. At this level, mostly suitable for parents who are themselves math teachers or very confident in explaining rigorous mathematics.
    • Saxon 8/7 — Pre-Algebra. One of the favorites among homeschoolers for decades. Many engineers come out of the Saxon math curricula. Written to the student. No instructor guide available.  Intensive interleaved, interval spaced, varied retrieval practice. Often available inexpensively, used. Suitable for children with learning disabilities who can read well or whose parent will read to them.
    • Art of Problem Solving Introduction to Algebra — Algebra I. Designed by math competition academics. Highly conceptual, typically much more difficult than one would expect. Includes access to online practice and videos.  Available as an online class through AoPS and other online boutique schools.
    • Teaching Textbooks Grade 7 — To be honest, this is not a particular favorite of mine. However, it does allow the student to work independently, and at the middle school level, that can reduce conflict between student and parent. All a parent would need to do is check and make sure the work has been done. This is a streaming service that covers the traditional topics, with a digital textbook. Suitable for slower math students.

Grade 8:

  • Math:
    • Singapore Math Dimensions 8 — Second half of Algebra I. Singapore Math is best-in-class for math curricula. However, it is parent-intensive, expensive, and has lots of moving parts (2 textbooks per year, 2 workbooks per year, 2 teaching guides, 2 solutions manuals). Very little interleaved, interval spaced review. Not suitable for children with a math learning disability. At this level, mostly suitable for parents who are themselves math teachers or very confident in explaining rigorous mathematics.
    • Saxon Algebra I — One of the favorites among homeschoolers for decades. Many engineers come out of the Saxon math curricula. Written to the student. No instructor guide available. Intensive interleaved, interval spaced, varied retrieval practice. Often available inexpensively, used. Suitable for children with learning disabilities who can read well or whose parent will read to them.
    • Art of Problem Solving Introduction to Geometry — Covers at least high school geometry. Designed by math competition academics. Highly conceptual, typically much more difficult than one would expect. Includes access to online practice and videos.  Available as an online class through AoPS and other online boutique schools.
    • Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra — To be honest, this is not a particular favorite of mine. However, it does allow the student to work independently, and at the middle school level, that can reduce conflict between student and parent. All a parent would need to do is check and make sure the work has been done. This is a streaming service that covers the traditional topics, with a digital textbook. Suitable for slower math students.

School in a Box

School In A Box kits can be a great help. All the lesson planning and curriculum design is done for you. You simply open the book and go to the page for the day, knowing that everything important has been covered. All of these curricula cover everything that WV requires. Often, they go above and beyond what is taught in public schools, especially in K-5.

While you may suffer from sticker shock, think about how much a single month of private school costs. (One month’s tuition can range from $550-$800.) Remember, the teachers manuals and textbooks can be sold as used the next year! (Tip: You can often buy these kits, used, from other homeschooling families.)

If you’re looking for materials that are strictly secular, you’ll also need to make a decision between “neutral” science and mainstream science. Neutral science omits information about the age of the Earth (and universe) and evolution. Typically, religious kits include creation science.

School in a Box Kits with Mainstream Science:

  • Moving Beyond the Page: (K-9) “Moving Beyond the Page is a comprehensive homeschool curriculum that covers science, social studies, and language arts. Moving Beyond the Page curriculum is most closely aligned with what is known as the Constructivist Theory of Learning. Constructivists view learning as an active process in which the learner actively constructs knowledge as he tries to comprehend his world. Constructivist theory is about facilitating the learner to go beyond simple memorization toward understanding, application and competence.”
  • Calvert Education:  “For more than one hundred years, Calvert Education has provided families with the curriculum and instructional support to successfully educate their children at home. A carefully curated curriculum from best-in-class educational content providers. Traditional print materials/online format or Online only. Engaging projects that challenge students to apply what they learn in deeper, more meaningful ways.”
  • Oak Meadow: “Oak Meadow provides flexible, progressive homeschooling curriculum for students in K-12. Our student-centered, nature-based approach allows families to set their own natural rhythm of learning and encourages creativity, critical thinking, and intellectual development through hands-on activities and interdisciplinary projects.”
  • Build Your Library: “Have you been looking for a literature based homeschool curriculum that is secular? How about a way to incorporate narration, copywork, dictation and memory work into your child’s education? Or art study that ties into history? What about a secular science that is mostly literature based in the elementary years? Well, you have come to the right place! Welcome to Build Your Library Curriculum!” (Math, and if desired, spelling and grammar, must be purchased separately.)
  • Rainbow Resources Kits: “Made with the new homeschooler in mind, we wanted them to be easy to jump into and get started. We also wanted them to be solid and strong in academics. And we wanted them to utilize a variety of homeschooling products, so you would have a better idea of what works well for you and your students.”

School in a Box Kits with Neutral Science:

  • Timberdoodle: “The “Timberdoodle family” loves Jesus and we are thrilled to offer products with a Gospel perspective to our customers. When we choose our products, we look for ones that are the best and most unique overall, so sometimes it is Christian-based curriculum, and sometimes it is not. As always, we want to help you find what is best for your family, so if you are looking for a curriculum that has either more of or less of a Christian perspective, please feel free to contact us; we want to help you find exactly what you need!”
  • Bookshark: “BookShark is a complete, literature-based, homeschool curriculum developed for Pre-K to Age 16 students. Our curriculum uses a variety of educational resources including literary fiction and nonfiction, biographies, illustrations and hands-on experiments to deliver an engaging and complete education that extends beyond textbook memorization.”

School in a Box Kits with Religion:

  • Memoria Press: “The Classical Core Curriculum is a complete classical Christian curriculum that emphasizes the traditional liberal arts of language and mathematics and the cultural heritage of the Christian West as expressed in the great works of history and literature.”
  • Christian Light Education: “Christian Light is dedicated to the development and distribution of Christian materials to spread the Gospel and evangelize the lost; to edify, inspire, and build conviction in the saints; to strengthen families; to support the church; and to provide a Christian education curriculum for children and youth.”
  • Sonlight: “Books – quality books – can distill the wisdom of an entire life into the span of a few pages. They can feed us with spiritual insight beyond imagination. Whether written by Christians or non-Christians, great books help us to develop critical thinking skills. These benefits of great literature have inspired us to build our Christian homeschool curriculum on quality books that present content in a highly engaging fashion.”
  • Abeka: “Abeka’s curriculum is parent led and focuses on building character. Every subject is approached from a Christian perspective, and you’ll find Scripture and biblical principles used to emphasize or illustrate concepts. It’s all the basics for that grade level, plus art in preschool–6th and electives in 7th–12th.”
  • Bob Jones University Homeschool: “BJU Press is a publisher of textbooks and video lessons for homeschool families. We are committed to creating materials that help parents deliver an education that is based on sound educational principles, inspires a joy in learning, and is rooted in a solid biblical worldview. We believe this approach helps children see how all learning is connected and important. As mastery and perspective increase, so does the desire to learn and create. As Proverbs 14:6 says, “knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth.”
  • Our Lady of Victory: “Our Lady of Victory home study program was founded in 1977 by Roman Catholic laymen and was the first Catholic home school program established in the country. For over 35 years our apostolate has been dedicated to providing parents with the support and confidence that they need in order to succeed in their home school endeavors. Wherever the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is discussed, you will find our materials always refer to the Latin Tridentine Mass, as promulgated by Pope St. Pius V”
  • Seton Home Study School: “Seton Home Study School is a nationally accredited, faithfully Catholic private PreK-12 distance school located in the state of Virginia. We serve an enrollment of approximately 12,000 homeschooled students, and several thousand more families through book sales and by furnishing materials to small Catholic schools. Seton Home Study School provides a Christ-centered, academically strong program designed for the Catholic homeschooling family in today’s world.”
  • Kolbe Academy:  “We are devoted to providing a philosophy and method of education that is thoroughly Catholic, that will form the whole individual—mind, soul and body—to renew the world with children and young adults with high educational, moral, civic and spiritual values. Kolbe Academy’s classically based curriculum focuses on studying the greatest spiritual, literary, artistic and cultural achievements of Western civilization by reading the original sources whenever possible.” (mainstream science)

 

Homeschooling High School (WV specific)

How long do I have to do this?

  • A student must continue to be homeschooled until they reach the compulsory attendance age (currently age 17) or upon completion of grade 12.

What if I want to go back to public school?

  • Since homeschooled parents are not required to deliver the state board approved Content Standards and Objectives, public schools have no obligation to grant credits towards graduation for a home school student who would transfer into a public school. Essentially, you’d be starting where you left off.

What do I need for graduation?

  • West Virginia’s public school children need certain courses in order to graduate. As home educators, we are not bound by those regulations, though you may want to know what they are for reference.

What if I want to go to college?

  • If your child is attending college, you’ll want to see what that college’s entrance requirements are. WVU lists theirs.

What if I want to learn a trade?

  • Many homeschoolers want to attend Vo-Tech centers. 18-8-1 (c) (3) provides that …”Any child receiving home instruction may upon approval of the county board exercise the option to attend any class offered by the county board as the person or persons providing home instruction may consider appropriate subject to normal registration and attendance requirements.”

A homeschool student could request to take a career/technical course offered at the local high school or the county career technical center.  A student would need to request permission from both the county and multi-county administrative council to take a course at a multi-county career/technical center that serves the student’s home county.  A county superintendent cannot approve a homeschool student to take a career/technical course that is offered by a career/technical center in another county.

What about transcripts?

  • The homeschooling parent is responsible for providing a transcript. Transcripts can range from a simple list to complex descriptions.

What about a diploma?

  • The homeschooling parent/guardian is responsible for issuing a diploma, which is legally equivalent to a public school diploma.

Curricula Types

WV homeschoolers are generally responsible for buying their own curricula. It doesn’t have to be expensive! Many families design their own curriculum while others purchase a “curriculum-in-a-box” that is complete and ready to use. Some homeschoolers refer to the WV Content Standards and Objectives for their children’s grade levels. Some families use public school textbooks, available for free through your county’s school board. Homeschoolers of all stripes frequently use the Internet and community resources such as libraries and museums.

There are several main approaches (religious as well as secular):

  • school at home – Abeka, BJU, Alpha Omega, Apologia, Calvert, etc
  • unit studies – Konos, Moving Beyond the Page, Trail Guides, etc
  • living books – Heart of Dakota, Charlotte Mason, My Father’s World, Sonlight, Bookshark, etc
  • classical education – Tapestry of Grace, Classical Conversations, Memoria Press, The Well-Trained Mind. etc
  • eclectic – DIY education, created by the parent using individual resources
  • online schools – (not public school at home) G3 Online, Athena’s Advanced Academy, Well-Trained Mind Academy, GHF Online, Abeka, BJU, Switched On Schoolhouse, Easy Peasy, Acellus, etc.

WV Notification of Intent (NOI)

Print or hand write a Notification of Intent (NOI). Mail it certified, return receipt, to your local Board of Education, addressed to the county superintendent of education. In rare circumstances, you might choose to hand deliver it and asking for a copy stamped “Received” with a date–this is not recommended. Make sure it includes:

Date County Name and age of school-aged children being homeschooled

“The child(ren) listed above will receive instruction in reading, language, mathematics, science and social studies. Further, the child(ren) will be annually assessed in accordance with WV Code 18-8-1(c)(2).”

I shall notify the county superintendent upon termination of home instruction for a child who is of compulsory attendance age or upon moving to a new county. Evidence of a high school diploma or equivalent, or a post-secondary degree or certificate, for the person(s) providing the instruction is either attached or on file in your office.”

NOTE: Upon establishing residence in a new county, the person providing home instruction shall notify the previous county superintendent and submit a new notice of intent to the superintendent of the new county of residence.

WV Portfolio Reviews

Most public school teachers are unfamiliar with homeschooling requirements for portfolio reviews. Use a home school-friendly teacher instead. The West Virginia Homeschool Haven and the Unsocialized Homeschoolers of West Virginia Facebook groups provide easy access to experienced portfolio reviewers.

Do not send in the entire portfolio, just the written narrative.

WV Code §18-8-1 provides in part that:

(2) The child meets the requirements set forth in this subdivision:

(C)  Annually, the person or persons providing home instruction shall obtain an academic assessment of the child for the previous school year in one of the following ways:

(iii)  A portfolio of samples of the child’s work is reviewed by a certified teacher who determines whether the child’s academic progress for the year is in accordance with the child’s abilities. The teacher shall provide a written narrative about the child’s progress in the areas of reading, language, mathematics, science and social studies and shall note any areas which, in the professional opinion of the reviewer, show need for improvement or remediation. If the narrative indicates that the child’s academic progress for the year is in accordance with the child’s abilities, the child is considered to have made acceptable progress;

D) A parent or legal guardian shall maintain copies of each student’s Academic Assessment for three years. When the annual assessment fails to show acceptable progress, the person or persons providing home instruction shall initiate a remedial program to foster acceptable progress. ….

(E) The parent or legal guardian shall submit to the county superintendent the results of the academic assessment of the child at grade levels three, five, eight and eleven, as applicable, by June 30 of the year in which the assessment was administered.

Assessing Your Children

How do you know what your child knows? Are you worried about them being behind in math or reading? What grade are they really capable of doing? Did your child actually learn all the key concepts last year? If you’re concerned about your child being behind, or ahead, one way to figure it out is to test them.

WVHEA’s annual spring testing meets state requirements. The TerraNova is a “norm-referenced” test. Norm-referenced is a percentage ranking compared to an average population. For example, Johnny is at 45th percentile. This means if you took 100 students and ranked them from top to bottom, Johnny would be 45 from the bottom. The TerraNova is a good annual test, but your score report usually doesn’t offer the detailed information you might want as your child’s teacher–is Tommy just being difficult, or can he really not divide two-digit decimals?

One product to test your child’s math and reading levels is Let’s Go Learn’s ADAM and DORA tests–available for homeschoolers. They are “criterion-referenced” because they report in grade level equivalent scores.  For example, Jane’s phonics skills are low 4th grade level. They are also:

  • online (computer, iPad, or tablet), meaning your child can do them in their pajamas
  • untimed (as many sessions as you like, take as long as your child needs, when your child is ready to work), and
  • individualized, adaptive tests (questions change depending on whether they got it right or wrong, so you know what grade level your child is actually capable of).

The best part is that they give you many pages of detailed results (Johnny can add like fractions, but not unlike fractions, for example). Sample report.

These are not the only tests, or even the best tests (an educational psychologist can administer much more detailed, much more thorough assessments, including screening for learning disabilities), but these tests can be a useful part of your homeschool planning.

Annual Assessments in WV

Chapter 18, Article 8, Section 1 lays out the compulsory school attendance requirement in West Virginia, and the exemptions–including homeschooling. In order to qualify for exemption c, subdivision 2, you must begin homeschooling with an NOI (parts A and B), and “obtain an academic assessment of the child for the previous school year“.

There are four ways to do this, two of which are not usually recommended.

Recommended:

  • WVHEA offers the first option every spring: “a nationally normed standardized achievement test published or normed not more than ten years from the date of administration and administered under the conditions as set forth by the published instructions of the selected test and by a person qualified in accordance with the test’s published guidelines in the subjects of reading, language, mathematics, science and social studies”
  • The third option is a portfolio review by a certified teacher. This is a recommended method, although WVHEA does not typically recommend working with public school teachers because they are rarely aware of the legal requirements of homeschooling. WVHEA maintains a list of portfolio reviewers, although WVHEA does not endorse any particular reviewer. The homeschooling parent is responsible for locating a portfolio reviewer with whom they feel comfortable, and paying for the portfolio review.

Not Recommended:

  • The second option (the testing program currently in use in the state’s public schools) is not usually recommended, because homeschoolers are legally required to obtain the results by June 30, while the public school testing program results are often not yet back by then. Every year, WVHEA takes calls from homeschoolers who have been contacted by their local BOEs because they have not yet turned in their annual assessments, because the results aren’t yet available to them. Therefore, this option is not usually recommended.
  • The final option is “an alternative academic assessment of proficiency that is mutually agreed upon by the parent or legal guardian and the county superintendent.” This is not typically recommended because of the imbalance of power between the homeschooling parent and the county superintendent. Every year, WVHEA takes calls from homeschoolers who chose this option, and find that they’re having difficulty working with the superintendent’s designee, usually because they’re not aware of the law. Therefore, this option is not usually recommended.

Once the option is selected, you are required to keep copies of each child’s academic assessment for 3 years. These assessments assist parents in combating charges of educational neglect.

“The parent or legal guardian shall submit to the county superintendent the results of the academic assessment of the child at grade levels three, five, eight and eleven, as applicable, by June 30 of the year in which the assessment was administered.”

Holding a child back or double-promoting a child does not exempt them from the requirement for an assessment for a given grade level.

Homeschooling Kindergarten in WV

WV Code §18-8-1a covers when students are required to start school and how you get in. Beginning in the school year 2019-2020, parents don’t have to file a Notification of Intent (NOI) until the child is six by July 1, or if they’ve enrolled in a publicly supported kindergarten program. Easy, right? Then why do school systems call Child Protective Services?

Most parents want to start their child in kindergarten at age 5.

WV Code says: “beginning in the school year 2019-2020, compulsory school attendance begins with the school year in which the sixth birthday is reached prior to July 1 of such year or upon enrolling in a publicly supported kindergarten program.”

The child isn’t legally required to attend school yet, and so no NOI is legally required. However, the law continues on to say:

(b) Attendance at a state-approved or Montessori kindergarten, as provided in section eighteen, article five of this chapter, is deemed school attendance for purposes of this section. Prior to entrance into the first grade in accordance with section five, article two of this chapter, each child must have either:

     (1) Successfully completed such publicly or privately supported, state-approved kindergarten program or Montessori kindergarten program; or

     (2) Successfully completed an entrance test of basic readiness skills approved by the county in which the school is located. The test may be administered in lieu of kindergarten attendance only under extraordinary circumstances to be determined by the county board.

If parents have done kindergarten at home and haven’t filed an NOI, from the BOE’s point of view the child hasn’t yet been in school and the kindergarten law would apply. Therefore, if parents try to enroll their child in first grade in a public school, they will either deny entrance to first grade, or test the child into first grade.

As a result, if parents are homeschooling kindergarten and there is a possibility that their child may attend first grade in the public school system, parents should try to make sure the child is prepared to pass a first grade level reading and math test.

This is good advice even though the law does not require that homeschoolers use the public school standards for reading, language, mathematics, science and social studies.

If the parent doesn’t mind a younger child doing kindergarten twice, once at home and once at school, this is not an issue.

Because the law doesn’t explicitly mention homeschooling as an acceptable substitute for kindergarten, filing an NOI and obtaining an end-of-year assessment is not a guarantee that homeschooling will be accepted for entrance into first grade, but it certainly increases the odds.

Note that the law only applies to children entering the first grade – a second grader would probably not be sent back to kindergarten.

However, if

  • parents try to enroll their child in first grade without an NOI or an end-of-year assessment, and
  • the school system tests the child and believes that the child should be placed in kindergarten on the results of the test, but
  • parents file an NOI for homeschooling first grade instead of taking the kindergarten placement,
  • then a school system may file charges of educational neglect with the Department of Health and Human Resources.

At this point, parents should hire an attorney, assuming they’re not already a member of a homeschool legal defense association.

–Courtney Ostaff (2018)

Common Concerns

Academics – Homeschoolers generally do well academically. In fact, children who received structured homeschooling had superior test results compared to their peers, anywhere from a half-grade advantage in math to 2.2 grade levels in reading.

Socialization – Homeschoolers tend to walk their own path. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be homeschooling! But, homeschoolers have many opportunities to be social—in fact, many experienced homeschoolers are so busy with activities outside the home that they work to find time to do academics! More research is available here and here.

Special Education – One of the strengths of homeschooling is the ability to tailor the education to meet the needs of the individual student. One size does not fit all—especially for children with special needs. Homeschooling parents have access to a wide range of resources to help their children.

Sports – Homeschoolers in WV cannot play WVSSAC sports. But, depending on your area, your student can participate in local, private leagues and teams.

College – Some of the best colleges in the world love homeschoolers, and accept them at higher rates than the most applicants. WV parents issue their child’s diplomas and transcripts, legally equivalent to public school diplomas.

–by Courtney Ostaff