Kindergarten-8 High School
With Descartes, you have two options: Use our learning objectives to guide activities and reading assignments or use a standardized textbook or other curriculum such as P.A.C.E., Time4Learning, K-12, Florida Virtual School (grades 6 and up) etc. We do not require a portfolio for children in grades K-8. Nevertheless, since many states do require a portfolio be kept, we provide the portfolio templates for textbook based learning and more free-form learning. You may use either or both of these portfolio templates. For example, if you use a text for 2 classes and design the rest yourself, you would use both templates. (The textbook based portfolio is much, much easier)
Textbooks and Curriculums that we recommend include:
· Harcourt Language Arts Grades 1-5
· Harcourt Brace Spelling Grades 1-6
· Harcourt Reading Grades 1-6
· Houghton Mifflin Reading/Language Arts Grades K-8
· Macmillan/McGraw-Hill Language Arts Grades K-6
· Saxon Phonics and Spelling Grades K-3
· Macmillan/McGraw-Hill Reading Grades K-6
· Scott Foresman Reading Grades K-6
· Harcourt Math Grades K-8
· Houghton Mifflin Math Central Grades K-6
· Macmillan/McGraw-Hill Grades K-6
· Saxon Math Grades K-12
· Scott Foresman MathSURF Grades K-8
· SBG Math Grades K-6
For any courses that you use a textbook, you can use a the following portfolio: Textbook-Based Portfolio for download
Traditional Portfolio with Learning Objectives
We use the McREL standards as the basis for our recommended curriculum. Each topic has a set of standards or main goals, followed by Levels or subgoals. Clicking on a subgoal such as "Draws pictures to represent problems" in the example below, takes you to another page that has the benchmark, knowledge and skills statements, suggested lesson plans and assessment activities (if any).Example:
Mathematics Standard 1. Uses a variety of strategies in the problem-solving process Level I [Grade: K-2] 1. Draws pictures to represent problems Click here to go to the topic page below
Topic Representing problems Level I [Grade K-2] Benchmark 1. Draws pictures to represent problems
A. pictorial representation B. problem solving
1. Knows that pictures can represent problems
Taking Numbers Personally
If you choose to design your child's program yourself, you can use the following portfolios:
Kindergarten-2nd Grade Portfolio English and math only.
Grade 6-8 Portfolio coming soon...
Learning Objectives by Grade
Grades K-2 Grades 3-5 Grades 6-8 Kindergarten-2nd Grade All topics Grade 3-5 All Topics Grade 6-8 All Topics
As the parent, you will choose what electives your child does. You will need to create your own portfolio for those. We encourage free exploration at this age, so goals and objectives for electives are often written as you go. What does that mean? Let your child sample different things, explore them as long as he or she is interested and then move on. You are not stuck teaching a class he or she hates for an entire semester.
If you desire more structure, you can use the McREL database either as-is or as a guide to help you develop your goals. You can either choose to follow this list exactly, or just use it as a framework, picking and choosing goals and adding some of your own. That is the beauty of homeschooling!
Stop. Freeze! I know many of you have issues with annual testing. At Descartes, we feel that it is a necessary evil. Our testing, however, is parent-administered and can be tailored to meet your child's needs. That is, break it up into 5 questions per day, do not present it as an "evaluation," etc. Tests we suggest:
FCAT Florida Assessment Test
TAKS™ Assessment of Knowledge and Skills Texas Assessment Test
SDAA and SDAA II Alternative Test for special education students. Available in Spanish.
RPTE Reading Proficiency Test
TAAS™ Assessment of Academic Skills. Available in Spanish.
EOC End of course assessments for Algebra I, Biology, English and US History 9th grade and above.
MCAS Massachussets Assessment
Another assessment method we approve is Kidtest.com. These tests are not free, but they are a reasonable cost. They are also not standardized, per se, but they are normed and will give you (an us) a detailed report of where your student is in comparison with others of similar ages.
Finally, it is a Florida requirement, and therefore, a Descartes Academy requirement that parents verify that their student attended school for at least 180 days each year. An attendance sheet is included in your portfolio. Attendance days do not need to be standard weekdays. If you went on a field trip to a science museum on a Saturday, that is an acceptable entry.