Portfolio Evaluation is where the parents save up samples of the child's work over the course of a school year, jotting down what they taught and/ or what the child learned, the trips they went on, the projects they worked on, and the activities they participated in. Done properly, the Portfolio gives the child, the parent, the evaluator, and the BOE a very good picture of how the child is progressing in his or her education.
Testing is one day a year where the child spends hours in a room with a No.2 pencil, filling in the bubbles. The tests cannot determine what all the child knows; they can only determine what the child does not know, or perhaps how well the child tests in the first place. But every homeschooling parent who claims that the test results have no impact on them whatsoever is lying. No matter how smart you think the kid is, if the kid comes back in the 97th percentile in everything, and you're going to high-five them, along with your spouse. If the kid comes back in the 9th percentile in everything, you are going to lie in bed that night wondering where you went wrong, and then you will abruptly turn to your spouse and remind them of the summer all they did was smoke weed, and accuse them of contributing tainted DNA.
While portfolio option is great, testing can be an "easy out" for busy parents who cannot go around saving every scrap of paper their child doodles on. If... if the child tests well enough. If the scores are high enough, you're in the clear. But god forbid your kid had a rough day, and you'd better start scrambling to come up with a portfolio for them.
This year, three of our kids are testing. The paper sent out to all testing homeschoolers states that children are supposed to get a good night's sleep, a good breakfast in the morning, and pack a lunch. They are also supposed to bring extra No.2 pencils, tissues for a runny nose, a book to read, and a self-addressed stamped envelope that the test scores will be mailed back to us in.
The plan was (What is a Plan, children? "A Plan is a list of things that are not going to get done." Very good, children.)
The plan was that the kids would go to bed around 10pm. We would get up at 7am, eat breakfast, pack the lunches, and leave the house at 9:15am, stopping to buy drinks and stamps along the way, and arrive at the testing center at 9:45am.
At 10pm, I told the kids it was bedtime, and they had to go to their rooms. At 10:10, 10:15, and 10:30, they all oozed back out into the kitchen under the guise of getting a drink, or because they wanted a snack. My job was to steer them back into their rooms with the warning that they were going to be extra sleepy at 7am. At 11pm, I went to bed, and listened to all kinds of racket over my head upstairs.
"Go to BED!!" I'd bellow, and they'd quiet down for a few minutes before getting wound up again.I came upstairs around midnight, and Paige was getting into the fridge.
"What are you doing up? You have testing in the morning!"At 1am, I burst into Tess and Harrison's room to inform them of the time, and that their shrieking was not appreciated. I may have been shrieking, myself, when I discussed it with them.
"You can have a fantastic breakfast in the morning. Go to bed now."
I shut off their light, and slammed their door, and tried to go to sleep.
At 2am, I heard "kitchen noises", the fridge closing, the water in the kitchen sink running, and the silverware drawer jangling. It appeared Paige was making her lunch the night before. This time, I did not get up.
At 7am, the alarms were going off and people were getting dressed and ready to go. Every fifteen minutes, I shouted the time left until we had to leave. At 8:45am, half an hour before we were supposed to leave, all the kids were showered, dressed, and ready to go.
At 9am, I was begging them to eat some kind of breakfast; all refused. Some people can't eat first thing, so I understood and backed-off on that.
At 9:10, Sadie remembered the envelopes and began addressing them, one for each kid.
At 9:15am, our official departure time, Sadie brought out ten No.2 pencils that needed sharpening.
I was starting to worry because we still had two stops to make on our way to the testing facility. As I was trying to usher children to the van at 9:20am, Paige came upstairs and began opening up a bread wrapper.
"What are you doing? The time for breakfast is over! We have to leave- now! Not even now, five minutes ago!"
She mumbled something that I couldn't understand (that's her trademark, cursing family members under her breath, so when the person says "What?" she replies with a sing-song "Nothing!"), and so whatever Paige mumbled, it ended with the sound "-itch", which I took to be a name she uses frequently toward her mother and sisters. I had had enough, so I slapped her hard on her shoulder and told her so. I told her to get in the van.
She announced that she wasn't going to testing, now, and ran downstairs to her room.
I turned around to find Sadie laying out bread to make a sandwich.
"What are you doing?!"
"I'm packing a lunch, like it says."
"WHAATT? What have you been doing all morning? We have to leave!"
Sadie took the bread slices and threw them on the floor, and then took the sliced turkey and threw it on the floor, and stormed out to the van.
Now, I was the bad mother.
At least, that's how it would look to all the other moms and kids when I dropped my kids off late at testing with no lunches or snacks, no drinks (we wouldn't have time to stop, now) and, you know, I just couldn't bear to have them looking at me that way today.
I have an Nth Degree Blackbelt (decided) in fucking up, but I'll be damned if I was going down in flames today. (More on that later. Probably not.)
So I quickly made a PB&J for Paige, and tossed it in a soft-sided lunchbox, along with some grapes. Then I retrieved the bread and turkey off the dirty, post-birthday-party floor and made a sandwich for Sadie from them.
I brought the lunches out to the van, now full of kids, and Sadie drove us to the convenience store where she ran in and bought three bottles of water, and we stopped so Arden could rush in and buy three stamps.
In the van, Paige explained she hadn't called me a bitch, but had said she was "making a sandwich".
Maybe next time she'll speak so people can understand her.
We arrived at the testing facility at 9:59am, and the test begins at 10am.
If you think getting to Testing is stressful, you should see Portfolio Day.