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ISSUE

Baltimore County homeschool liaison, Donna Sochurek recently sent out letters to families reminding them to make an appointment for their Spring homeschool review. The letters included wording that concerned a number of local families who, in turn, contacted Maryland Hand In Hand Homeschool for assistance.

The letter said, in part:

Please note: If you are using an online program, you must bring a portfolio of your student's printed, dated work for each subject for each week being reviewed.

The concern centered on the fact that the wording appears to be asking parents to meet a review requirement not specifically called for in the state's homeschool regulation. In Maryland, local school boards may not create nor impose additional requirements for homeschool families to meet.

 

BACKGROUND

Maryland Hand In Hand Homeschool contacted Ms. Sochurek to discuss the letter on Monday, March 12, 2012. When asked about the requirement of dated work, Ms. Sochurek explained that her office has seen an increase in homeschool parents using online curricula, which has created a unique set of compliance review issues. The problems exist mainly with parents who elect to bring a laptop in order to show work samples online.

The biggest problem identified by Ms. Sochurek is that many locations where homeschool reviews are conducted do not have available or reliable wi-fi service in order for parents to access their child's online work. Neither public schools nor BCPS administrative offices have public wi-fi. In addition, library locations oftentimes have spotty service making it difficult to conduct a complete review. When parents do not bring hard copies of online work samples and they are not able to gain online access, parents are required to make a second appointment and come back for another review.

Another problem that BCPS has faced with online curricula reviews is that ofentimes parents of high school homeschoolers aren't familiar with the online programs. While they come to the county review prepared to show work samples, they have difficulty navigating the online school's interface. What should be a 20-minute review can sometimes last upwards to 45-minutes to an hour as they look for the location of the online work samples.

Over a year ago, Ms. Sochurek began requesting online homeschool families to bring hard copies of their work samples. The one-dated-sample-per-week-per-subject rule was suggested to Ms. Sochurek from a Baltimore County homeschool family who consulted with the Homeschool Legal Defense Association. HSLDA recommended this definition as a reasonable homeschool work sample that would meet regulatory compliance.

 

RESOLUTION

Families are encouraged to contact Ms. Sochurek directly at dsochurek @ bcps.og with any further concerns about the dated work question. However, they should feel reassured that presenting non-dated work samples will not result in an automatic Needs Improvement rating for any family.

Families using online curricula may bring a laptop in order to provide visible access to work samples, but they should keep in mind the wi-fi access problems. If the parent is unable to secure online access to work samples, then will be required to come back for another review.

Ms. Sochurek states that she is open to working with families on how they can demonstrate "regular and thorough instruction" in a manner that addresses their family's curricular choices, as well as their children's unique learning needs. As a former special education teacher, Ms. Sochurek is particularly sensitive to the achievement limits some children face despite the most dedicated of home instruction.


                 

 
Sunday
April 23, 2017

 

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