* If your question is not answered here, please be sure to reach out!
1. What is a homeschool portfolio and why are they important?
A homeschool portfolio includes selections from a student's coursework compiled over a year's time and used for assessing progress. Maintaining a portfolio of your child's work provides actual, physical proof that you are homeschooling, covering all required subjects and that your child is making progress as required by law. This proof will be vital in the event that you are contacted by officials, or that your child returns to school.
HOME portfolios consist of a 3-ring binder that includes a student information page, subject cover pages, an attendance sheet, reading logs, field trip logs and samples of work for all required subjects for each quarter. You can find out more about state requirements here.
For more information on creating your own portfolio, you may be interested in reading "HOME Portfolios: Its as Easy as 1-2-3" and "How to Prepare Your Portfolio, even if You Aren’t Prepared."
2. How do I register for a HOME portfolio review?
3. When can I register for a portfolio review?
You can register for a portfolio review at any time of year. However, please keep in mind that annual assessment results are due by September 1, so the earlier you register, the sooner you will have your results.
4. How much does a portfolio review cost?
Whether you register for a mail-in, group or digital review, the cost is $49. Become a HOME supporter and save 5% - 20% off your portfolio review! VIP and Lifetime supporters receive one free portfolio evaluation.
5. Who will review my portfolio?
Portfolio reviews are conducted by current Maine certified teachers that have been vetted and trained by HOME. Each of our teachers values homeschool freedom and is an experienced homeschooler or well-versed advocate. Each teacher is well known to HOME, so we are confident in their abilty to serve and support the homeschool community with excellence and integrity.
6. What if I don't have time to assemble a portfolio myself?
As a convenience for your family, HOME offers pre-assembled portfolios. Included is a 3-inch binder, subject dividers, plastic sheet protectors, a variety of pages to accomplish required record-keeping, and simple instructions. Just fill in the required information, add work samples and submit!
7. If I purchase a pre-assembled portfolio, do I still need to register for a review?
Yes. A registration form will be included in your pre-assembled portfolio. You can also register online. See number 2 above.
8. I registered for a HOME portfolio review, but have not received my portfolio assembly packet. When can I expect that?
Once your registration is received and payment is confirmed, you will receive a digital file or e-packet within 24 to 48 hours of registration. If you mail in your registration form, or register on a weekend, it may take a little bit longer.
9. If registering for a mail-in review, where do I submit my portfolio?
You can either mail your portfolio or drop it off using the drop-off box at the HOME Office, 337 Hatchet Mountain Rd., Hope, ME 04847. Please do not mail your portfolios to HOME's PO Box.
10. How should I package my portfolio for mailing to the HOME Office?
Please mail your portfolio in a Priority Mail box (which allows for tracking), rather than by Certified Return Receipt. The latter option delays delivery if there is no one on site to sign for the package when it arrives. For return shipment, please include a second self-addressed Priority Mail box with postage affixed to allow for tracking. Be certain the portfolio fits into the carton with ease.
11. Can I mail just the papers from my portfolio, without the binder?
No. If the complete portfolio binder is not submitted, your portfolio will be returned for you to submit in the proper format.
12. What is a group portfolio review?
This option for your portfolio review offers you the opportunity to join other homeschoolers in a group setting to share what homeschooling was like for your family during the past year. A Maine certified teacher and a veteran homeschool leader will facilitate discussion, answer your questions, and provide you with a signed evaluation letter to submit to your local superintendent.
13. Where are group portfolio reviews held?
Group portfolio reviews are usually held at public libraries around the state. You can find the dates and locations for group reviews by visiting the HOME Group Portfolio Reviews page at the HOME website.
14. How does the digital portfolio work?
HOME leaders have created a digital file that includes all of the pages required for a portfolio review. The file is a .pdf fillable file and all information can be typed directly into the file. Using adobe reader, you will also be able to submit work samples into the spaces provided. The file comes with complete instructions for use.
15. If I register for a digital portfolio review, can I switch to a mail-in review if the digital file doesn't work for me?
Yes, if you paid for a digital review, you can switch to mail-in. You can also switch from mail-in to digital. Please contact the HOME office to request the change.
16. When can I drop my portfolio off at the HOME office?
HOME has an outside drop-off box at the office that you can place your portfolio in at any time, regardless of office hours.
17. How long will it take for a portfolio review to be completed?
Mail-in portfolios are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis. The earlier you submit your portfolio, the sooner it will be reviewed. All portfolios submitted by July 1 will be completed well before the September 1 deadline for submission of assessment results. Otherwise, it may take up to two to three weeks for a review to be completed, depending on the number of portfolios received at one time.
Digital reviews are generally completed in 1-2 weeks.
18. If I am picking up my child's portfolio, how will I know when the review has been completed?
If you are planning to pick up your portfolio, you will receive a phone call when the review has been completed and is ready to be picked up.
19. What do I do when my portfolio review is completed?
Be sure to make a copy of the signed assessment letter to keep for your records. Then mail a copy, along with your subsequent year letter of intent to homeschool, to your local superintendent by September 1.
20. I missed the September 1 deadline. What do I do now?
It is important that you submit your assessment results as soon as possible if you missed the deadline. You can include a note that explains the reason your assessment results were not sent on time. Remember that the September 1 deadline is a requirement of the law.
21. Do I have to send the whole portfolio to the state or superintendent?
No. A certified teacher will review your portfolio and provide you with a signed letter that you will submit along with your "subsequent year letter" if you plan to continue homeschooling.
22. Do I have to show progress for all subjects, every year?
The Maine Homeschool Statute states that families must provide instruction in the following subjects: English and language arts, math, science, social studies, physical education, health education, library skills, fine arts and, in at least one grade from grade 6 to 12, Maine studies. At one grade level from grade 7 to 12, the student must demonstrate proficiency in the use of computers. Therefore, the HOME review team will be looking for evidence of work in all of these subject areas.
23. Do I need to completely finish my school year before sending in my portfolio?
No. If you have sufficient work samples, and can show 175 days of instruction, you can submit your portfolio at any time.
24. What are the certified teachers working with HOME on portfolio assessments looking for?
Teachers will be looking at your portfolio to determine that 175 days were completed, all subject areas required by law were covered and progress was made in each subject.
25. How do I show progress in my child's portfolio?
For classes that use workbooks or worksheets, be sure to use weaker samples from the beginning of the year and stronger samples for the end of the year. This will help the teacher to see the progression of work completed by the student.
26. Do I really have to fill out all the forms that HOME says are "required" in the portfolio packet?
27. Why do the certified teachers doing annual assessments for HOME require more than some other teachers doing portfolio reviews?
HOME only requests the information that will provide the certified teacher doing the review with the best picture of a student's yearly academic progress, as required by Maine law.
28. What do I use for evidence if there is no worksheet?
In classes that don't use worksheets (i.e. physical education and fine arts), skills learned may be logged and progress shown by including photographs with captions describing progress, accomplishments and skills learned, documentation of special classes, field trips or activities outside the home, or student writing. A parent may also provide a written summary and assessment of skills learned.
29. How do I document online learning?
Online programs should still include a scope and sequence and provide regular progress reports for subjects covered. Include a copy of these in the appropriate place in your child's portfolio. Whenever possible, print out worksheets or tests completed online to include as work samples.
30. If I use an online system to track progress for the year, can I use those reports instead of HOME forms?
Reports created using an online system can be included in the portfolio. However, HOME forms still need to be completed and included.
31. What if I forgot something that my child needs to know for her grade?
The Maine Homeschool Statute does not include a checklist of what a child needs to know and when. You are in charge of what, when and how to teach each subject to your child. If you feel your child needs to learn something additional, incorporate that into their curriculum for the next year.
32. What if I don't have enough evidence to show progress for a subject?
If you do not provide evidence to show progress in a subject area, you may be asked to submit more work samples or journal entries, as well as a summary of the learning that took place.
33. What happens if my child isn't on grade level?
Most children work at different grade levels for different subjects. In subjects that they have a particular interest in or aptitude for, they may work at a higher grade level. In others, they may work at a lower grade level. The level your child is working at isn't as important as showing that they are learning and making progress at their current level of ability.
* For additional HOME resources to help address questions 34 - 36 below, please be sure to visit the HOME Bookstore!
34. How do I show progress in Fine Arts or Library Skills?
In subject areas that don't typically include worksheets, you can include a log of activities completed, brochures from places visited and certificates for lessons taken. You may also ask a music or dance instructor to provide an evaluation. For more information on showing progress, you may be interested in reading, "How to Prepare a Portfolio, even if You Aren't Prepared."
35. How do I show progress in Physical Education?
Physical education can be documented by keeping a log of any physical activities participated in or certificates received for involvement in sports programs. You may also ask your child's coach to provide an assessment. For more information on including physical education in your portfolio, you may be interested in reading, "PE: How Much is Enough?"
36. How do I show progress in Health?
Has your child visited a doctor, dentist or therapist for any reason this year? What did you discuss before and after your visit? Have you talked with your child about viruses, personal hygiene, healthy eating or puberty? Did you read any books about health or books that touched on a topic related to health? Log these activities and experiences in your portfolio! Here are some other health related topics to be sure to touch on at age-appropriate times and opportune moments:
Personal Health and Wellness
Mental and Emotional Health
Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs
37. My child is behind. How will that affect my portfolio review?
Teachers reviewing your child's portfolio will not be making judgements on a child's level of learning. They will be looking to see that attendance and subject requirements have been met, and that progress has been made.
38. What happens if my child doesn't "pass"?
As long as sufficient evidence of progress is shown, you will receive a signed letter by a Maine certified teacher stating that your portfolio was reviewed, sufficient work was accomplished, progress was made, and records were kept according to state requirements. A recommendation that the student proceed to the next level in his/her program of study will also be included.
39. Do I also have to have my child take a standardized achievement test if I submit a portfolio for review?
No. The state only requires one form of assessment for each year.
40. If I choose achievement testing as the means of annual assessment, can the test results be submitted for review in lieu of a full portfolio?
Yes, test results can be reviewed by a Maine certified teacher. A signed teacher review letter, confirming progress and verifying the legal requirements, can then be submitted instead of the actual test results. More about this option is provided when you register for a HOME portfolio review.
41. How long should I keep my child's portfolios?
HOME recommends that you keep your child's portfolios for as long as their home instruction program continues.