This summer the IHSAA passed a new policy which allows home school students to participate in school sports. We have studied the policy, and we see some flaws which could hurt local schools. This started the discussion of creating a local policy.
The IHSAA policy requires the students, "To complete all state-wide examinations as authorized by the Indiana Department of Education."
The IHSAA policy also requires a minimum of one period per day of enrollment and attendance. That section of the IHSAA policy could harm Carroll Consolidated School Corporation, teachers, and administrators. We could be holding teachers and administrators accountable for students who never set foot in their classrooms for math or English.
If a student attends one period, then they are registered with the state with a Student Test Number or "STN". http://www.doe.in.gov/accountability/data-collection
We have to submit reports which document every student with an STN has taken the ISTEP or high school ECA test in Algebra I or English 10. Every student STN is connected to a teacher employee number. Our teachers and administrators will be held accountable for student performance on the ISTEP+ and ECA.
Our question was, “How can we ding or hold a teacher accountable for the performance of a new home school student he/she has never had in class?”
It is not fair to our staff or other students to have someone take the ISTEP or ECA and CCSC not have any input or a chance to positively affect that student's performance. We recognize the track record of success for many home schooled students. The student could have a wonderful education, but if what they are studying is not aligned to the state test? The results could be poor just based on differences in curriculum. I have heard this concern from home school parents. It wouldn't mean the student is not capable, there is just not alignment. It is not fair to a teacher to hold them accountable for a group of students' performance when they have no control over it. It is not fair to put the failure label on a home school student either.
The state has also added an additional test for College and Career Readiness for grades 10-12. This test requires students to score above a 46 on the PSAT or Pass both sections of the ECA high school tests. Schools will have to submit another report which will document every student with an STN has passed the College and Career readiness standard. If a home school student doesn’t pass the ECA they will have to enroll in remedial math or English course or pass the PSAT with a 46 or higher.
We understand the IHSAA policy and the goal to involve all of our community’s students. We think we are one of the first to explore this issue. The focus of our policy is making sure we don't harm anyone when we allow a home school student to participate, but also acknowledge all the state mandates for English and math performance.
We see the only fair way to accommodate this is to have the homeschool student participate in Carroll Consolidated math and English courses at a minimum. This way the accountability put on the teacher for the student’s performance is valid. All the mandates for data submission, Student Testing Numbers, teacher pay connected to test performance, school letter grades were not designed for home school students or this scenario; never the less, we have to navigate how this will work in an ever changing environment.
As a small school, a group of students as small as 5-7 could cause major shifts in our evaluation results. Locally, we have met with representatives with a home school co-op. This co-op has a great track record of success and functions like a small school. We have listened and taken input from their lead teacher. The IHSAA policy was probably written mostly for the singleton home-schooled student. We look forward to more input, but we wanted everyone to know the policy is based on navigating the new IHSAA policy within the school accountability framework lawmakers rolled out in 2011.