I recently submitted my first Vermont EOYA (End of Year Assessment). I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the process is not that hard! These simple tips will get you through it painlessly too.
As a former science teacher with 19 years experience working in public schools and universities, aligning my teaching to “the standards” had been deeply ingrained. Every performance evaluation would ask what standard was being taught and how would students demonstrate understanding. Honestly, it was something that stole lots of joy from my professional teaching.
Throughout our first year, I would catch myself in a moment of self-doubt when we deviated from the Minimum Course of Study (MCOS) that had been approved by the state. It felt weird (in that really refreshing way that weird can be) to just follow my kids’ curiosity knowing we’d strayed from “The Plan.” But, with time, I’ve embraced it more and more. It’s made teaching and parenting fun again!
But, when it came time to pull together the summary, I was a bit uneasy. Did I have “enough” to satisfy the folks at AOE? However, I quickly learned, I had no reason to be uneasy. You don’t need to worry about it either.
Your Vermont EOYA is NOT a Yearly Summary: The State Only Needs to Know a Little Bit about Your Year
This was the biggest aha moment for me. The state only wants enough information to know they don’t need to worry about your child. This has really freed me from feeling like I need to document all the learning that happens. I’m a fan of less busywork so I don’t keep detailed records anymore.
They don’t need an exhaustive list of books read, projects done or field trips taken. They don’t need to know that you took a break from writing for three weeks to care for a sick pet. It’s not their business that most of the math lessons were short and the real progress was that your kid is no longer scared of failing at math.
If you are anything like most of the home educating parents I know, you put lots of thought into the work you do with your kids — presenting a wide array of print and digital resources highlighting diverse groups and cultures, interactive and introspective times and hours upon hours that embrace just being a kid! Awesome. Don’t worry about sharing all that with the state.
Your Vermont EOYA Just needs to Show Progress for Each Child
You just need to show that each child made progress in each key content area. You do not need to demonstrate mastery or show that you “covered” an exhaustive list of topics.
Simply demonstrate progress generally aligned with your MCOS (Minimum Course of Study). The easiest way I found to show progress was to show work samples or photos of work from different points in time. For each content area include a paragraph or two about how the child has progressed and reference the work samples.
Easy EOYA Work Sample Ideas
A partial booklist. E.g. Titles read included…
Worksheets. Even if you, like us, don’t do many of them, this is the easiest sample. Be sure to date it and then scan it to a folder on your computer. Here’s a great Math Practice Resource.
Screen Shots of your Favorite App. The catch here is that you will have to include a description so that the evaluator understands what concept the child is studying.
Photos of an Activity with Math Manipulatives. Just be sure to include something to make the concept really clear to the evaluator.
Rough and Final Draft. Be sure to date each one to show progress over time.
Copy work. Lists of words or phrases copied to practice spelling. Whole passages to practice grammar, usage and mechanics.
Emails. This is real writing with a purpose.
Photos from Outings and Trips. Monuments. Museums.
Mapping, including photos of kids using maps. I have a standing line in my MCOS about current events: Current Events in citizenship and government with historical roots – looking back at key moments in history to help understand current events. It’s easy to show the kids finding important locations on a map or globe.
Photo of the child playing. Add a sentence saying the child plays outside nearly everyday. This is the easiest of all!
Photo of child using health knowledge. Cooking is an easy example.
Photo of their artwork. Does not need to be pro gallery quality!
Your Vermont EOYA is NOT an Assessment of your Home Education Choices
You are not being evaluated. That program you loved but your child didn’t is not being evaluated. When, where and how you educate are not being evaluated. How closely you stick to the MCOS everyday or your choice to follow a more curiosity driven unschooling model are not being evaluated.
All you need to show is enough to set some minds at ease in Montpelier. They just need to know that each child is progressing. You get to decide how to push or not. When to try something new and when to lean into what’s already comfortable — that’s up to you and you don’t need to justify it in your EOYA.
If you are like most of the home educating parents I’ve met, you take your home education choices very seriously. You probably seek out friends, blog posts, podcasts, books and even book groups to help you grow as a home educating parent. I get it. I do that too! But, the state isn’t checking on our personal home educating development plan.
Your Vermont EOYA Does NOT Need to Be Perfect
Nothing bad happens if you forget something or make a mistake. This was my first time submitting EOYA’s since there was a pandemic exemption our first year. I got a friendly email informing me of corrections I needed to make. One was a sample I forgot to attach. In another case they needed more information. It was all easy to sort out in just a few days.
A Little Advance Planning Will Make it Really Easy Next Time
I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve for the 2022-2023 school year.
Get Work Samples Early
We do lots of hiking in the summer. Since geology is on our MCOS for the coming year, I plan to get all of our work samples over the summer. These will be photos of my kids exploring eroded stream banks, fossils and old round mountains. Does that mean I’ll be done teaching geology come August? Probably not, but I’ll have that box checked for the EOYA.
We will also visit some historic sites this summer and I’ll get our history work samples. I wrote a really broad MCOS saying we will study themes in American history such as “Native Americans, race and gender, science and technology…” Did you catch that phrase, “such as?” It’s a good one to use because it gives them reassurance that you’ve got a plan but you are not locked into a narrow topic that might not captivate your young people.
I’ll get the art, PE and Health work samples over the summer too. Since I read to the kids everyday we’ve already started our reading list. That means I just need the rest of the reading list plus writing and math samples.
Start a Folder and a EYOA Document
Head’s up: you can only submit 10 separate files. That means that most of the work samples need to be added to a common document. I just made a Google Doc for each child and added photos to that.
Submit the Easy Stuff
I repeat: YOU are NOT being evaluated. You do not need to submit the best examples from your school year. Personally, I find that I do my best creative work when no one is breathing down my neck. My best teaching was never when an administrator was in the room! Get them off your back early then embrace the learning journey with your kids! The best learning happens in the flow so do all that you can to spend as much time as possible there.
Sunflowers grow to beautiful even though we don’t measure their growth everyday. I think the same is true for kids minds. No need to obsess about the EOYA; it’s just making sure the kids are growing. Get the forms done and go enjoy your sunflowers!