Portfolio Reviews with BCPS

The following information is intended to explain how portfolio reviews are implemented in Baltimore County in accordance with Maryland's regulations for home instruction and social distancing guidelines.  

What is a portfolio? 
For the purpose of home schooling, a portfolio is an organized collection of student work and instructional plans for each required subject area. The portfolio is maintained by the parent/guardian and presented to BCPS staff at the end of each semester in order to demonstrate that the student is receiving regular, thorough instruction.

A portfolio includes important instructional materials such as, but not limited to: 
Student writing samples, written assignments, worksheets, workbooks
Assessments (tests/quizzes) 
Projects (research based, multimedia, cross-curricular, creative, etc.) 
List of Instructional/reading materials and/or curriculum documents 
Photos of art projects may be submitted to document art 
Dated logs or calendars may be submitted for music and physical education

What is the purpose of the portfolio review?
The portfolio review is required in Maryland to ensure that each child participating in a home instruction program is receiving regular, thorough instruction during the school year, in the studies usually taught in the public schools, to children of the same age.  

When are portfolio reviews held? 
First semester reviews occur from November through January. Second semester reviews occur from April through mid-June, not to extend past the last day of school for Baltimore County Public Schools.

How do I submit the portfolio?
Parents may submit the portfolio using one of the following options.  Click on each option for a full description. 
1. Hold a Video Conference
2. Email Grade/Progress Report 
3. Submit an Electronic Portfolio via Google Drive or Microsoft One Drive 
4. Mail the Portfolio

Who reviews the portfolios?
Baltimore County Public Schools hires a team of reviewers comprised of current and retired educators. Each reviewer brings a wealth of expertise and experience to the team.  Additionally, each reviewer undergoes annual training to remain current with Maryland’s regulations for home instruction.  The reviewers thoroughly enjoy meeting with the families and share in the joy of the students’ accomplishments each semester. 

What happens at the portfolio review?
COMAR 13A.10.01.01 E. A parent or guardian shall agree to permit a representative of a local school system to review the portfolio of educational materials and discuss the instructional program

Regardless of how the portfolio is submitted, the reviewer will schedule time with the parent to discuss the portfolio.  The discussion is especially important for parents who are new to homeschooling. The reviewer will document the evidence that is provided for each subject area. Notes on the Portfolio Review Form may include the name of the curriculum, textbooks, instructional resources, websites, skills covered, pages numbers of workbooks completed, etc. Once finished, the reviewer will send the completed Portfolio Review Form to the parent via e-mail, unless requested in a different format. 

What does a parent/guardian include in a portfolio for a student using an online program?
The expectations of a portfolio review for online programs are the same as home instruction programs that do not incorporate computer work. Most online schools and programs have some form of a grade/progress report or transcript to inform parents of a student’s progress.  Parents are welcome to submit this progress report as documentation, if they so choose. They may also provide additional samples of the student's work; however, additional work samples are not required if the grade report shows regular, thorough instruction, is electronically generated from the online program or school, and is easily understood by the reviewer. Online programs, academies, and schools utilized for home instruction in Maryland do not override the state’s regulations. 

How much work should be included in the portfolio?
Every home instruction program is unique.  Therefore, the number of work samples that shows regular, thorough instruction for one program is different than the number of work samples needed to show regular, thorough instruction for another home instruction program.  Parents are strongly urged to discuss the portfolio and the home instruction program with the reviewer as the discussion is a key component in communicating the context of the portfolio documentation. 

What happens if the portfolio does not have sufficient evidence of instruction? 
If a parent/guardian does not provide adequate documentation of the home instruction program, the reviewer will document the deficiencies on the review form. Another portfolio review meeting will be scheduled to provide the opportunity to correct any deficiencies within 30 days. If not corrected (or if the parent does not attend the mutually scheduled portfolio review to correct the deficiency), the student must be promptly enrolled in a school. For deficient portfolio reviews conducted at the end of the school year, 30 day reviews will be scheduled in October of the next school year. 
Failure to schedule and/or attend a portfolio review is considered to be non-compliant with home instruction regulations and requires a child’s immediate enrollment in a public or non-public school.