7 Ways to Evaluate Student Progress

If you jumped into the new year using traditional materials, you probably already have an idea how you will evaluate your student’s progress.  You can see at a glance those assessments at the end of the teacher’s guide or stapled in between the pages of the workbook.  For for the DIY homeschool mom using alternative methods of education, how do you know what your student knows? There are a variety of ways to evaluate how much your student remembers, and more importantly, your student’s progress. Here are 7 ways to evaluate your student’s progress:

1.  Goal-Based

You’ve probably heard the adage that you have to set goals to reach them.  Or as Yogi Berra puts it,

If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.

So at the beginning of the year we can set goals by assessing where our children are and what they need to get to the next level.  By setting goals in advance, evaluating is as simple as determining if the goal has been reached.

For example, if the goal was for my daughter to learn her multiplication tables, I can easily assess whether or not she has mastered that goal. Similarly, if the goal for my son was that he be able to read simple beginner books by the end of the year, I already know if he is reading those books.

The Goal of Education?
Start with the basics — what does it mean to be educated?

Summer School for Mom: Setting Goals
Ideas for making goal-setting easier.

2. Personal Observation

Tutors typically know off-hand where their students are.  We already know in advance how well a child will do on a test before he takes it.  Often times, it is better to skip the test and work on developing skills in weak areas rather than using the test to point out what we already know.

3.  Just Ask

Depending on the age of your child, he may already know what his strengths are.  And he is probably very familiar with those areas in which he feels he is struggling.  By asking our older students for input, we have an opportunity not only to evaluate, but to address their concerns.

10 Evaluation Interview Questions

10 Evaluation Interview Questions
Ideas to get you started.

4.  Checklists

Those covering material in atypical ways may find a checklist all they need to keep on track.  Checklists give us an idea of what our children need to know and, in the case of skills, in what order.  We can simply check off the metric when those items have been covered (content) or mastered (skills).

There are checklists available or you can create your own.  For example:

Read and narrated the five books required from the history reading list.


What Your Child Needs to Know When by Robin Sampson
Checklists…and then some! Read our entire review.

5.  Narration

How much does a student know about his subject?  Ask him to tell you what he knows.  Narrations provide opportunities for not only evaluating progress, but also for discussing topics, correcting facts, and filling in gaps.

Language Arts the Natural Way: Narrating

Language Arts the Natural Way: Narrating

6.  Presentations

Students can come up with very unique ways of presenting material.  Add a bit of creativity to evaluations.  Let them design their own way of letting you know what they know.  Encourage illustrations, constructions, inventions, plays, skits, speeches, performances, written papers, outlines, animations, and videos.

7.  Portfolios

A personal favorite around here, portfolios take advantage of notebooking to store the best examples of a child’s work in one place — evaluation at a glance.

10 Ways to Use Notebooking

10 Ways to Use Notebooking {Complete Series}

Additional Resources
Evaluating for Excellence

Evaluating for Excellence by Teresa Moon
First set goals, then you will have something to measure progress by.  Great advice and tons of forms to help you stay on track.  One of our favorite evaluating helps!  Read our full review.

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