Covid-19 and PHAA Evaluations
The recent COVID-19 health crisis has caused public and private schools to close, suspending all requirements that require face-to-face contact. On March 27, Governor Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 751, suspending those requirements for the 2019-2020 school year only. Here is the part of the bill that specifically affects home education programs:
Section J: The following shall apply:
(1) The minimal instructional time requirements of Section 1327.1 [the Home Education Program section of the law] shall not apply.
(2) The requirements to administer a nationally normed standardized achievement test or statewide test under Section 1327.1 (e)(1) and conduct the annual evaluations under Section 1327.1(e)(2) and (H.1) shall not apply.
Three provisions apply to all families with students who are in Pennsylvania Home Education programs this school year only:
- You don’t have to maintain or share with your evaluator a log documenting 180 days or 990 hours of instruction.
- You don’t have to turn in an end-of-year evaluation letter to your school district.
- You don’t have to administer a standardized test to your 3rd, 5th, or 8th graders.
However, PHAA still requires evaluation letters for students in 9th through 12th grades. Also, PHAA evaluators still need to examine the portfolio and interview the student in order to fill out PHAA transcripts for students in 9th through 12th grades.
Fortunately, the evaluations can be completed with little danger to the evaluator and family. They can be done in at least four ways:
- Arrange for a video conference online and upload materials to a shared digital folder or email it to the evaluator as a pdf file.
- Mail the portfolio to the evaluator and conduct the interview by telephone.
- Meet outdoors where there’s good air flow, bottle of hand-sanitizer, and plenty of space for “social distancing” (your evaluator may wear gloves or a protective face mask while thumbing through your portfolio).
- Wait until later in the summer, after the worst of this virus has peaked, to see if health officials’ recommendations for social distancing have changed.
The following PHAA deadlines for evaluations in 9th-12th grades still apply:
- PHAA needs your evaluation letters before we send your transcript to a college.
- PHAA needs your evaluation letters before you can graduate.
The strict deadlines only apply to seniors who are graduating in 2020. All of the following can be conducted online, if needed:
- Filing to Join PHAA. The last day for paying the Filing fee to join PHAA for a 2020 graduating senior without penalty is June 30. This is a one-time-per-student fee which you have already paid if your student has a PHAA student number.
- Participate at Ceremony. If you are participating in one of our graduation ceremonies, the last day for paying the Diploma fee for a 2020 graduating senior is May 31. (Our ceremonies are currently scheduled for June 4 near Pittsburgh and June 8 near Valley Forge, but will likely be combined to take place on June 8 online.)
- Diploma Fee to Request Diploma. The last day to pay the Diploma fee for a 2020 graduating senior without penalty ($55) is July 31.
- Submit Documentation. The last day to submit the final transcript (signed by parent and student) and the 9th through 12th grade evaluation letters is August 31. Evaluation letters can be uploaded to PHAA by the evaluator using the PHAA transcript program, but the final signed transcript must be emailed as a pdf attachment or snail mailed to PHAA.
You can still arrange to have your kindergarten-through-eighth grade students evaluated this spring, even though doing so is no longer required by law for the 2019-2020 school year. Doing so can be helpful and encouraging for both parents and students—many families look forward to this time to share about their many projects and studies from the year.
The only firm deadline for submitting evaluation letters to PHAA is August 31, 2020, and that deadline only applies to those who are graduating in 2020. Any evaluations, whether for graduating seniors or others, can be conducted without need for a face-to-face contact.
Dr. Howard Richman, Executive Director
Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency