The State of PA requires for end of year portfolios:

  • Samples of your child’s work
  • Reading Log
  • Standardized Test completion for students in grades 3, 5 and 8 only       

Please note that we are not lawyers, and this is not legal advice. These suggestions are based on our experience and the reading of the legal requirements to homeschool in Pennsylvania.

What Should My Portfolio Look Like?

There is no required format for your portfolio. Some people use binders or accordion files, others use photo albums or a digital record of work. It’s completely up to you!  In our own families, we keep portfolios that will be fulfilling for us to look back on over the years. For one of us, this means binders organized by section with work samples, written reflections and photos. For the other one of us, this means a private Instagram Account with weekly pictures/videos and a folder of written samples collected throughout the year.

Samples of Work

There is no requirement for a certain number of samples. You might want to include samples in every subject, but this is not required. The law reads, “…samples of any writings, worksheets, workbooks or creative materials used or developed by the student” meaning that samples are not required to be in every subject. For example, while PA requires yearly instruction in fire safety, we do not specifically need to see proof of this since you are not required to show material in every subject.               

A sample is anything that your child makes or experiences (worksheet, art work, a photo of a lego project or science experiment, a documentary they watch, a theater class, etc.). It can also be something that reflects what your child did (a list of field trips, a program from a show, a pamphlet from a museum, etc.)

As evaluators, we only require you to fulfill the state’s requirements. We do not have our own requirements that you produce a certain type of portfolio with a certain type of samples. We encourage you to use the portfolio as an opportunity to reflect, collect, and organize your homeschooling year in a way that is meaningful to your family.

Reading Log

The law requires “a log, made contemporaneously with the instruction, which designates by title the reading materials used.” There is no need to include more than your list of “reading materials used,” but if you have more specific logs, feel free to include what you have. Some people take pictures of library book piles. It’s up to you!

Standardized Test completion

If your child is in 3rd, 5th, or 8th grade, you are required to have them tested in language arts and math. If you consider your child in 3rd, 5th, or 8th grade, according to the law, the evaluator needs to see the results in the portfolio at the evaluation time. There are a variety of standardized tests, online or on paper, that you can use at home.    

Attendance record

There is no requirement that you provide an attendance record at your evaluation in the law. You need to attest that there are 180 days (or 900 hours for elementary, 990 hours for 7th-12th) of instruction in your affidavit when you file your intent to homeschool.    

Beginning of School Year:

  1. Complete an affidavit and list of objectives. Feel free to use or adapt a generic form such as this one.
  2. Sign the affidavit in front of a notary.
  3. File the affidavit with the superintendent of your school district by August 1. Check with your district regarding how your paperwork should be filed (in-person, mail, email). If mailing, consider certified mail. The name and address for your school district superintendent should be on your district’s website. (In Philadelphia, the liaison in the Office of Home Education is currently Shawn Baker.)

End of School Year:

  1. Create a portfolio.
  2. Contact a homeschool evaluator to review the portfolio.
  3. Make a copy of the evaluator’s form for your own files.
  4. The evaluator will sign an evaluation form that must be turned in to the school district superintendent no later than June 30. This is the only paper that must be turned in to complete your school year.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

  • First time homeschoolers can file anytime before you start homeschooling. You can start counting homeschool days as soon as you file. You don’t have to wait for a response to start homeschooling.  You are informing the district, not getting permission.
  • Returning homeschoolers need to submit a new notarized affidavit and list of objectives by August 1st each year. (Hint: It’s really easy to send in with your end-of-year paperwork in June!)
  • Start counting school days as early as July 1st. (Note for first-time homeschoolers: this is true as long as you have submitted your affidavit.)
  • Unless you get a certified letter from the school district requesting additional information, you do not need to give the school district any paperwork other than the affidavit and objectives. While the PA DOE sample affidavit asks for medical information, this is not a legal requirement.
  • If your child has been registered for school or attended a school, make sure to withdraw your student(s) according to the school’s procedures within 3 school days of filing the affidavit. Failure to do this could result in truancy issues.
  • For all paperwork that you submit to the school district, we recommend that you keep a copy or take a photo for yourself.

Recent changes for 6-7 year olds with the 2020-2021 School Year:

  • If your child is under 6 years old and has never been to school in Pennsylvania, you do not need to file an affidavit with the school district until age 6.
  • The Law 24 P.S. 13-1327 reads: The term “compulsory school age,” as hereinafter used, shall mean the period of a child’s life from the time the child’s parents elect to have the child enter school, which shall be not later than at the age of six (6) years, until the age of eighteen (18) years.
  • While this does not spell out what to do if a child will turn 6 during a school year, the safe option is to file a homeschool affidavit for your child in July of the school year when they will turn 6 (even if they are currently 5)
  • ** This is not legal advice. Please contact a lawyer if you need legal advice.**

We highly recommend reading through the entire homeschool law (Section 1327 and 1327.1) for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Read it a few times!