Portfolio Evaluations of Home Education Programs in NH

[This information provided with permission from the author.  Original document is a pamphlet]

 Copyright 1998, 1999 (rev 4/30/99)  Chris Hamilton

This brochure may be copied and redistributed in its entirety, as long as it is not for profit.

This brochure is provided to assist homeschoolers and evaluators in understanding portfolio evaluation. It is based on my five years of experience homeschooling, and articles, presentations and conversations with Michael Faiella, a member of the Home Education Advisory Council and has been reviewed by an experienced evaluator. I hope you find it helpful.

A complete copy of RSA 193-A, the Home Education Law, and Ed 315, Procedures for the Operation of Home Education Programs, is available from your local superintendent or the NH Department of Education. The portions of the law and procedures most relevant to portfolio evaluation are included below, but a better understanding of home education legal requirements is obtained by reading the entire law.

This information applies to home education programs which choose either the Commissioner of Education or their local superintendent as their participating agency. If the home schooling parent chooses the principal of a nonpublic school, that school may impose requirements of the home education program that go beyond what the law requires, in order to assure themselves that the child is receiving an education that the school approves of.

Neither Michael nor I are lawyers, and this pamphlet does not substitute for legal counsel.


Position vacant as of 7/00 (603) 271-3582   Department of Education xxxxxxxx@ed.state.nh.us
101 Pleasant Street,  Concord, NH 03301
XXXXXX is the person in the NH DOE responsible for answering inquiries on home education, and has been appointed by the Commissioner of Education to serve on the Home Education Advisory Council. 

Michael Faiella (603) 942-5582 homefree@worldpath.net
124 Old Turnpike Road, Northwood, NH 03261
Michael is a homeschooler who serves on the Home Education Advisory Council (HEAC). He makes himself available to homeschoolers who have questions about the homeschooling law which cannot be answered generally in the homeschooling community. If you and your participating agency are in disagreement over content or scope of the law or procedures, please feel free to contact Michael or any other homeschooling member of HEAC. A list of HEAC members may be obtained from the DOE (see above).

New Hampshire Homeschooling Coalition, PO Box 2224, Concord, NH 03302-2224
The New Hampshire Homeschooling Coalition publishes an informative guidebook for those seeking information about homeschooling in New Hampshire. A copy can be obtained by sending your name and address with $10.00 to the above address. NHHC district representatives may also be able to provide you with the names of evaluators in your area. To find out who is the representative for your area, contact Abbey Lawrence, NHHC Coordinator, 539-7233, or write to the above address.

For advice on selecting an evaluator, please see the article from the March/April 1997 NHHC News, included in this brochure.

What is a homeschool program?

Chapter 193-A   Home Education

Purpose. 1990 279:2, eff. July 1, 1991, provided: "The general court recognizes, in the enactment of RSA 193-A as inserted by section 3 of this act, that it is the primary right and obligation of a parent to choose the appropriate educational alternative for a child under his care and supervision, as provided by law. One such alternative allows a parent to elect to educate a child at home as an alternative to attendance at a public or private school, inaccordance with RSA 193-A. The general court further recognizes that home education is more individualized than instruction normally provided in the classroom setting.

193-A:4 Home Education; Defined; Curriculum Required

I. Instruction shall be deemed home education if it consists of planned and supervised instructional and related educational activities, including a curriculum and instruction in science, mathematics, language, government, history, health, reading, writing, spelling, the history of the constitutions of New Hampshire and the United States, and an exposure to and appreciation of art and music. Home education shall be provided by a parent for his own child, unless the provider is as otherwise agreed upon by the appropriate parties named in paragraph II.

193-A:5 Notification and Other Procedural Requirements. A parent may provide home education to a child or children at home, subject ot the following requirements:

I. Any parent commencing a home education program for a child, for a child who withdraws from a public school, or for a child who moves into a school district shall notify the commissioner of education, resident district superintendent, or principal of a nonpublic school of such within 30 days. Subject to the provisions of RSA 193-A:7, I, the commissioner of education shall acknowledge in writing that the parent shall be permitted to initiate a home education program for a child enrolled in a public or nonpublic school if the program meets the minimum definitional and educational requirements as provided in RSA 193-A:4, I, and paragraph II of this section.

II. Notification made by the parent pursuant to paragraph I shall include a list of the names, addresses, and birtih dates of all children who are participating in the home education program and a list of the subjects to be taught each child in accordance with RSA 193-A:4, I. A description of such subjects shall also be provided which shall include:

(a) The name of an established correspondence school used, if any;

(b) The name of an established commercial curriculum provider, if any;

(c) A table of contents or other materials which outlines the scope of and instructional sequence for each subject, or both; and

(d) A list of textbooks or other instructional materials used.


1. The entity with which the parent chooses to interact (superintendent, commissioner, non-public school principal) is the "participating agency". The letter from the parent is referred to in the homeschool community as the "letter of intent" or "notification". The letter which is sent back to the parent is referred to as "letter of acknowledgement" or "acknowledgement".

2. It is not necessary to teach every subject every year.

3. In any educational setting, it would be unusual if a year’s worth of activities unfolded exactly as it was planned. A major benefit of homeschooling is the flexibility which the parent can use in meeting the child’s individual needs. This is evidenced in the "purpose" of the home education law. For this reason, many parents include a statement at the bottom of their letter of intent similar to the following:

"I reserve the right to change or replace curriculum materials at any time in order that they might achieve the desired academic goals while being responsive to my child’s needs."

4. The parent is not required to specify the evaluation method at the time of notification. Doing so may limit the ability of the parent to choose the most appropriate evaluation option for their child, which may be more apparent at the end of the school year than at the beginning. However, for those parents who will be asking the school district for assistance in evaluating their child, it is to their advantage to inform the district as soon as this is decided.

5. One method of home education called "unschooling" does not lend itself to categorization by subject matter, scope and sequence, or traditional educational materials. If you want more information on preparing a letter of intent for a homeschool program of unschooling, contact your NHHC district representative (see section on Contacts).

What is in a portfolio?

193-A:6 Records; Evaluation

I. The parent shall maintain a portfolio of records and materials relative to the home education program. The portfolio shall consist of a log which designates by title the reading materials used, and also samples of writings, worksheets, workbooks, or creative materials used or developed by the child. Such portfolio shall be preserved by the parent for 2 years from the date of the ending of the instruction.

Ed 315.05 Records.

(a) In accordance with RSA 193-A:6, the parent shall keep a portfolio each year the child is being home educated. The portfolio shall contain the child’s work pursuant to RSA 193-A:6, I.

(B) The portfolio shall be the property of the parent. Access to the portfolio shall be at the parent’s discretion, except as provided in RSA 193-A:6, II(a) [NOTE: refers to portfolio evaluation].


1. With the exception of the log of reading materials, the portfolio does not need to contain all the work done by the child, merely representative samples.

2. It is helpful for documenting progress if the samples are dated. Many evaluators want only to see samples of work from the beginning, middle and end of the year.

3. A portfolio could contain, but is not limited to, any of the following: worksheets, tests, samples of writing, artwork, computer files, certificates of participation, brochures, ticket stubs, playbills, photographs, video/audio recordings or other records of projects and activities.


What is a portfolio evaluation?

RSA 913-A:6 Records; Evaluation

II. The parent shall provide for an annual evaluation in which is documented the child’s demonstration of educational progress at a level commensurate with the child’s age and ability. The child shall be deemed to have successfully completed his annual evaluation upon meeting the requirements of any one of the following:

(a) A certified teacher or a teacher currently teaching in a non-public school who is selected by the parent shall evaluate the child’s educational progress upon review of the portfolio and discussion with the parent or child. The teacher shall submit a written evaluation to the commissioner of education, resident district superintendent, or nonpublic school principal.

Ed 315.06 Annual Evaluation.

(a) The parent shall provide for an annual evaluation for a child.

(b) The parent may choose a teacher or may request the evaluation through the resident school district superintendent to submit a written evaluation that shall include the following:

(1) The name and address of the teacher, including documentation of certification or the name and address of the nonpublic school in which the teacher is currently teaching;

(2) The date(s) on which the evaluation(s) took place;

(3) A description of the work reviewed including quantitative data if available;

(4) A summary of the child’s educational progress in the home education program as presented in the notification, concluding with a statement that the child has or has not made educational progress;

(5) The signatures of the teacher and the parent; and

(6) A copy of the evaluation may be retained by the teacher.

(c)-(d) [other evaluation options are described -- omitted]

(e) The evaluation shall be submitted annually on or before July 1 for the current school year and shall meet the requirements of RSA 193-A:6, II. Any evaluation submitted to a participating agency shall be signed by the parent acknowledging acceptance of its use to meet the requirements of RSA 193-A:6, II and this section.


1. For "documentation of certification", the state in which the teacher is certified, along with the certificate number, is usually considered sufficient.

2. The written evaluation should be given to the parent to be signed, and is not considered complete until it is signed. The parent may refuse to sign an evaluation if s/he feels that it is not an accurate representation of the child’s progress, and choose to seek another evaluation.

3. The participating agency will be looking for a summary of the work reviewed by the evaluator and of the progress the child has made. Quantitative data could include number of chapters covered, number of pages written, etc.

 Ed 315.06 Annual Evaluation.

(d) The parent may choose any other valid measurement tool mutually agreed upon by the parent and the participating agency provided that:

(1) The agreement shall be made in writing and signed by the parent and the participating agency; and


Under this paragraph, the participating agency may waive any of the limitations placed on portfolio evaluation method.

Who is elegible to be an evaluator?

Ed 315.01 Definitions

(g) "Teacher" means a teacher who holds NH certification, is certified in another state which is party to the interstate compact or is currently teaching in a nonpublic school.

 RSA 193-A:1 Definitions. In this chapter:

II "Nonpublic school" means a nonpublic school approved pursuant to rules adopted by the state board of education and administered by the department of education and which has agreed to administer the relevant provisions of this chapter.


1. If the teacher is currently teaching in a nonpublic school, that nonpublic school must be in the state of NH.

2. The interstate compact encompasses the states east of the Mississippi River, including Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts, and some western states as well. For confirmation of a state’s participation in this compact, you can contact the NH Department of Education.

 Ed 315.06 Annual Evaluation.

(d) The parent may choose any other valid measurement tool mutually agreed upon by the parent and the participating agency provided that:

(1) The agreement shall be made in writing and signed by the parent and the participating agency; and


Under this paragraph, the participating agency may waive any of the required qualifications of the evaluator. If the agreement is mutual and in writing, the evaluation can be performed by a teacher who is certified in a non-compact state, who is teaching in a nonpublic school in another state, a person who is not a teacher, or even the child’s parent.

When is a portfolio evaluation done?

Ed 315.06 Annual Evaluation.

(e) The evaluation shall be submitted annually on or before July 1 for the current school year and shall meet the requirements of RSA 193-A:6, II. Any evaluation submitted to a participating agency shall be signed by the parent acknowledging acceptance of its use to meet the requirments of RSA 193-A:6, II and this section.

(F) If the evaluation has not been received by the participating agency on or before July 1 the participating agency shall notify the parent in writing that unless the evaluation is received by July 15 the program shall be placed on probation for the following year in accordance with Ed 315.08.


1. The evaluation should take place sometime between the start of the home education program and July 1. The majority of homeschoolers schedule theirs for April or May.

2. An early evaluation allows more time for an alternative evaluation to be obtained, should that be necessary. It also avoids the end of the year crunch, when evaluators are already committed to providing their services to other homeschoolers.

3. An evaluation done late in the school year allows the evaluator to document more educational progress.

What does a portfolio evaluation cost?

If the parent requests that the school district provide a teacher to evaluate the portfolio, the evaluation is done at no cost to the parent.

If the parent selects his/her own evaluator, then compensation should be mutually agreed upon before the evaluation takes place. Among evaluators charging for their services, I have seen prices ranging from $25-$60, depending on the thoroughness of the evaluation, the qualifications of the evaluator and the evaluator’s attitude toward compensation in general.

Selecting an Evaluator  by Cindy Truman and Abbey Lawrence

Reprinted from the March/April 1997 newsletter of the New Hampshire Homeschooling Coalition

Annual evaluation is a requirement of the homeschooling law. Standardized testing is an option, not mandatory. A widely used method of evaluation is the portfolio review. If you will need a teacher to do an evaluation this year, now is none too soon to start looking for the right person.

First, read the law, specifically section Ed 315.06. It is up to you to know your legal rights and responsibilities.

In selecting an evaluator, it is important that you find someone whom you trust to fairly evaluate your child. As for qualifications, the law requires only that an evaluator be certified or currently teaching in a nonpublic school. It is entirely up to you to decide if the possession of advanced degrees, or experience in any particular specialty, is relevant to your needs. The evaluator is working for you, not for the school district, superintendent, or the state, although a person who is certified by the state and employed by a district might well feel some responsibility to these entities. Teachers are entitled to their own philosophies, expectations, and procedures, and you are entitled to find an evaluator who suits you.

You may request that your school district provide an evaluator, and if you have a friendly and trusting relationship with the school, this can work out well. Do not turn over your evaluation to school personnel if you are in doubt about their attitude towards home schooling or their ability to fairly judge your child's work.

Ask other home schoolers for suggestions; some NHHC board members keep lists of evaluators in their areas. The NHHC board voted last year to remove from the guidebook the list of evaluators; aside from the fact that the information on such lists becomes outdated, some board members were concerned that inclusion on such a list might be misconstrued as an endorsement.

An evaluator will want to see samples of the student's work--lists of books read, workbook pages, writing samples--in order to document that the student has demonstrated educational progress. No one should be expected to paw through a box of loose papers and make sense of it, or deduce "educational progress" without any documentation. Find out in advance what the evaluator wants to see, whether he would like to interview the student, and so forth. Note that Ed 315.06(b)(4) indicates that the evaluator will summarize "the child's educational progress in the home education program as presented in the Letter of Notification" [my emphasis]. Thus, an evaluator, and ultimately the superintendent who reviews the written evaluation, may expect to see some correlation between the plans outlined in the letter of notification and the actual work done by the child. If you have concerns about being able to demonstrate such correlation, come to some agreement with the evaluator in advance, or find some other method of evaluation.

Finally, the evaluation is not official until you sign it. If for any reason you are dissatisfied with the evaluation, you may seek another one. The results of the annual evaluation must be submitted to your participating agency by July 1, so allow ample time to get a second one done if there is any possibility you might need to do so.