Academic Expectations

I have soooo tried to avoid quantifying portfolio expectations! I’m a big believer in a student progressing as is appropriate for them. However, I’ve had to “not-pass” a few students–due to either an inadequate portfolio or an egregious lack of educational progress. Please note that I’m not talking about “curriculum” progress or “formal” schooling; I’m referring to a lack of learning in general. If you’re stuck, here are some ideas about how to document progress.

Below I’ve listed my minimal expectations, the items that send up alarms in their absence.
Every child is different, and I’m concerned with your child’s appropriate progress–not their location on some official scale.

What I look for in the early years:
Around 5-9 years old; K-2nd Grade


  • Reading: The student either can (and does) read fluently or is regularly working toward that goal.

  • Handwriting: The student is working to develop functional handwriting — at an individually appropriate pace.

  • Language Arts: The student is regularly exposed to literature and/or other language arts concepts.

  • Mathematics: The student is systematically building her mathematics skills. (Think concepts, addition, subtraction, and skip counting.)

  • Science & Social Studies: The student has regular exposure to, and is learning about, the world around him.

What I look for in the elementary years:
Around 9-12 years old; 3rd-5th Grade


  • Reading: The student either can (and does) read fluently or is working diligently toward that goal. They are reading a variety of materials.

  • Handwriting: The student either has, or is working hard to develop, functional handwriting.

  • Language Arts: The student is exposed to a variety of literature, and is systematically learning basic spelling, grammar, and mechanics, as appropriate.

  • Writing: The student is purposefully, and regularly, writing. By “writing” I really mean “authoring”… Word processors rock!

  • Mathematics: The student is systematically building his mathematics skills. (Think multiplication, division, fractions, percents, time, and geometry.)

  • History & Geography: The student is learning something about various topic in history and geography.

  • Science: The student is continuing to broaden her knowledge of the physical world.

  • Time: I would expect the student to be doing at least an hour or two of “school” daily.

What I look for in the middle school years:
Around 12-14 years old; 6th-8th Grade


  • Reading: If the student can not read fluently, appropriate interventions are in place.

  • Handwriting: The student has functional handwriting. Keyboarding skills may support this.

  • Language Arts: The student is exposed to a variety of literature, and is systematically learning spelling, grammar, and mechanics.

  • Writing: The student is learning how to write. He is purposefully, regularly writing.

  • Mathematics: The student is systematically building her mathematics skills. (Think skill mastery, data analysis, word problems, graphs, proportions, and pre-algebra.)

  • History & Geography: The student is systematically studying history and/or geography.

  • Science: The student is moving toward more systematic learning, filling in gaps as needed.

  • Time: I would expect the student to be actively learning for several hours each day.

What I look for in high school:
Around 14-18 years old; 9th-12th Grade
Please note: High school students may not study all of the core subjects each year. They do, however, need to have a high school plan and be completing a reasonable amount of course work.


  • English: The student has functional handwriting and is reading at least a minimal quantity of literature. The student is learning how to be a better writer-He is purposefully, regularly writing.

  • Mathematics: The student is systematically building her mathematics skills. (Think Business Math, Algebra, Geometry, et al.)

  • History & Geography: The student is systematically studying history and/or geography, as appropriate.

  • Science: The student is systematically studying a scientific discipline.

  • Time: I would expect the student to be engaged in multiple hours, four or more, of active learning each day.


The above goals aren’t necessarily indicative of a good education,
just an idea of where my thinking is at.