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Fall 2007

Mercer County—Attendance Director Rick Ball rejected a homeschool portfolio for the 2006-07 school year because the teacher who evaluated the portfolio was also providing the home instruction. When consulted about the problem by WVHEA, the West Va. Dept. of Education (WVDE) advised Mr. Ball that there was nothing in the law to prevent a teacher from providing home instruction to a child and evaluating that child’s portfolio for an annual assessment. However, the WVDE did express concern that the evaluator was not certified to teach in WV (he is licensed in Virginia, where he teaches). The WVDE’s opinion is that the law implies that a portfolio evaluator should be certified in WV.

      The section of W. Va. Code §18-8-1 in question reads:

(iii) The county superintendent is provided with a written narrative indicating that a portfolio of samples of the child's work has been reviewed and that the child's academic progress for the year is in accordance with the child's abilities. If the narrative indicates that the child's academic progress for the year is in accordance with the child's abilities, the child shall be considered to have made acceptable progress. This narrative shall be prepared by a certified teacher whose certification number shall be provided. The narrative shall include a statement 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;

      WVHEA agrees with the WVDE that the law allows teachers to provide home instruction to a child and evaluate that child’s portfolio for the annual assessment. However, it does not agree that the law limits the pool of portfolio evaluators to teachers with a current WV license. Many if not most counties (including Mercer) accept portfolio evaluations from teachers with valid licenses in other states. Internet access makes it easy to validate teacher certification in every state. WVHEA encourages families who use portfolio reviews to provide counties with a quick way to validate their evaluator’s license, such as the link to the state government website where the license can be verified.

      Nevertheless, the family obtained another portfolio evaluation by a WV-certified teacher and submitted the new evaluation to the county. The family has not heard anything further from the county board. They obtained this year’s textbooks for their student without incident (the textbook warehouse people are wonderful to work with, the parent says) and continue to homeschool.