The Third Option Homeschool Law states that home educators should include in their records “a semiannual progress report including attendance records and individualized documentation of the student’s academic progress,” (South Carolina Code of Laws SECTION 59-65-47). The law does not offer a specific format for progress reports so homeschoolers have a lot of flexibility. However, this flexibility can often create questions from new homeschoolers such as:
- What is the purpose?
- When do I make them?
- What should it look like?
- Who do I give it to?
What’s the purpose?
Semi-annual progress reports allow us to take a look at our homeschools and assess how our children are doing and determine whether or not our teaching methods or curriculum are working.
According to Edutopia, “Assessment is an integral part of instruction, as it determines whether or not the goals of education are being met…Assessment inspire us to ask these hard questions: “Are we teaching what we think we are teaching?” “Are students learning what they are supposed to be learning?” “Is there a way to teach the subject better, thereby promoting better learning?”
Taking the time to assess your year helps you create an optimal learning environment for your children. You can determine if your child is learning and meeting the goals and objectives set by you or the curriculum. Assessments also give you the opportunity to see if the curriculum and resources you have chosen are the best fit for your child.
When do I make them?
Semi-annual progress reports are generally made at 90 days and 180 days. The specific date will vary from homeschool to homeschool since we each have unique calendar years. For most homeschoolers, the 90th day will fall in December or January. The 180th day should be before your homeschool accountability association’s year ends. For TSCHAA members, that due date is by July 31st of the year.
What should it look like?
The law states progress reports should include attendance and the academic progress of the subjects you are covering, which should include English, Math, Science, and Social Studies at a minimum. Beyond that, the law is not specific, so homeschool educators should pick a method that is meaningful to them.
Many families choose to structure their progress reports similar to a public school. They will list the subjects taken and the grades earned. (If you do not use letter grades in your homeschool, you could also put “working satisfactorily” or “at grade level” rather than a numerical grade.) A progress report structured this way will be useful if you choose to enroll your child in a public/private school because the progress report will be written in a format that is similar to the school’s reports, and the school will expect records from your homeschool year.
For families that do not issue grades and for younger kiddos, choosing to write statements similar to “has mastered” or “needs improvement in” can give a good overview of progress. For example, “Joy has mastered multiplication but still needs work in division,” or “Joy is able to create complex sentences, but she still needs work in capitalization and spelling.”
You could also make notes similar to, “Joy is able to learn best when we use living books rather than a textbook or online website.” Noticing learning styles and preferences can help you make decisions to improve your homeschool moving forward.
Here are samples of progress reports TSCHAA members were wonderful enough to share:
Who do I give it to?
As a TSCHAA member, the progress reports are for your records only since the law puts you in charge. We do not require you to send them in but do have you check off that you have them in your possession on your end of year form, which is due by July 31st of the accountability year.
Sometimes, it can be hard to see changes in our homeschool unless we take the time to look. We may feel like our children are not making progress, yet when we look back at our previous progress reports, we will discover how much our children have grown and flourished in their education. It can take many small steps before we see big results, and progress reports are one tool we have that helps us see our students’ growth and the fruits of our labor as homeschoolers.
Free printable progress reports:
TSCHAA’s Formal and Informal Progress Reports (For TSCHAA Members Only)