Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) Amends Its Bylaws

In April 2016 we learned about the changes that the Alabama High School Athletic Association made to their bylaws to allow non-traditional students to participate in interscholastic athletics with AHSAA member public schools. 

To test, or not to test, that is the question? Or at least one of the questions you may be asking???

Crossroads Christian School does not require that your homeschooled students be tested. However, we do provide the opportunity if you desire it. We are able to obtain the Stanford 10 at a very reasonable price. In grades 2, 5, & 8, the OLSAT is given with the Stanford. The Otis-Lennon School Ability Test is an additional 40 or 50 minute subtest that gives you some measure of how your student's achievement compares to his/her abilities. The tests will be computer-scored, and you will receive a copy of the results.

The following remarks are my opinion, so as you read, take it for what it is, certainly not the gospel! If there is no reason for your child NOT to test, if he has no particular learning disability, or your family doesn’t have any major schedule conflicts, and you can afford to pay for the tests, then you should try to get your child accustomed to testing.

Test scores are used in many different ways. Personally, you can use them to have an objective measurement of your child’s educational progress. It is a useful tool as you consider your total educational program for your students. But it is simply one tool among many; you should not put all your eggs in the testing basket as you evaluate your homeschooling.

If you’ve never tested your student, and you choose to do so, realize you need to make sure the anxiety level is reduced, both in you and in your student! What if your student does not do well taking tests? A lot of students do have test anxiety. But, you need to know this about your student before she gets to high school age. Otherwise, she has a low test score, and you’re questioning everything you’ve ever done. If she experiences test anxiety, it’s better to know that earlier rather than later, so you can work through that issue.

As your students get older and face high school and college, test scores are used as entrance requirements: for college, for scholarships, for screening for eligibility for college and high school classes, for honor societies, etc. Right now, students qualify for college scholarships primarily through their ACT or SAT scores along with their GPA. Even if your student chooses not to attend college, an ACT/SAT, or a Stanford score, along with a diploma, gives an objective measurement of your student’s achievement. For employers, colleges, military, or anyone considering your student at some future date, a test score gives a comparison of how your student ranks next to other students who have taken the same test. That’s all it does; it helps someone be able to compare apples to apples. If two students take the same test, then their scores give some idea of how those two students may compare academically. Once again, a test is a tool!

As homeschoolers, we do not have to model our schooling after the public or private system. However, we do not know what the Lord has in mind for our children as they move into adulthood. Our family’s goal was to prepare our children with as broad of an education as possible, for whatever the Lord had in mind for them. Of our three children, only the youngest is doing something that we might have predicted from his high school experience.

The ACT and SAT are college entrance tests: the American College Testing program and the Scholastic Aptitude Test. These tests are taken by students in high school, perhaps starting as early as 10th grade. The Stanford achievement test is a graded achievement test, given from first grade through 11-12th grades. The Stanford 10 was given to a large group of students back in 2002, when it was normed. That group of students is the group against which your student will be rated. That large group of students is considered a representative group of 8th graders, or 2nd graders, or whatever. Please realize that from one year to the next, it is NOT the same group of students. The test was normed in one year, and different groups of students took the test at the different grade levels. So if you give the test each year, and want to compare your student’s individual progress, the scaled score is the score you use to find out that piece of information. The California Achievement Test and the Iowa Test of Basic Skills are also graded achievement tests, like the Stanford.

Crossroads hosts the Northeast Alabama Sigma Zeta chapter of the Eta Sigma Alpha National Home School Honor Society. This group uses test scores as part of their entrance requirements: the ACT, SAT, PSAT, and achievement test scores. So, if your 8th grader is interested in membership in this group, it would be good to take the Stanford test to see how they rate in terms of the requirements for this group. And some of the local co-operatives may require test scores as prerequisites for some of their courses. If you are interested in this possibility for your students next fall, please consider having your student take the Stanford test this April, as there is a possibility that an achievement test score may be used in determining the level of preparation of students for these high school level courses. Also, Duke University uses achievement test scores in their Talent Identification Program (TIP). They identify high scholastic achievers and allow them to take the ACT at an early age.

As of school year 2014-15 public high school students in the state of Alabama no longer are required to take the Alabama High School Exit Exam.  Now, theywill be classified as College and Career Ready if they achieve any of the five benchmarks listed below: 

Benchmark score on any section of the ACT test:  English 18; Reading 21; Math 22; Science 24.
Qualifying score on an AP or IB exam.
Approved transcripted college or postsecondary credit while in high school (dual enrollment). 
Benchmark level on the ACT WorkKeys.
Approved industry credential.

I mention this so that you will know that there are other opportunities, besides the ACT, to have an objective measure of your student’s achievement

If you have any questions about testing, or about what I’ve written, please contact me and we can talk directly!

New Staff Positions!

Back in March, Pam Ayres announced her resignation from Activities Director. We hate to see her go, but since her youngest child has been out of high school for 3 years, we understand her desire to do other things!  We’re gonna miss you, Pam!

Jenny Bartz is going to be taking over as Activities Director. Jenny brings a wealth of homeschooling experience to this position, and we’re excited to see what kinds of activities she and her team will plan for next year.  She has recruited Machelle Womack to be Teen Activities Coordinator, and Rose Stephenson will assume the Elementary Activities Coordinator job.  We’re still waiting on an answer from someone about becoming the Preschool Activities Coordinator.  

Pam Clinkscales is still with Crossroads, but will not be serving as Administrative Support with Nancy Brown at the faculty meetings.  So, Brooke Streufert will be coming alongside Nancy and the rest of the school staff, and helping out at faculty meetings.

Tracey Douglas and Jennifer Lavender form the leadership team for the GAP
(Guiding, Assisting, Preparing) co-op that will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Moody.  Barbie Whitefield will continue to lead a team for the Friday co-op classes.

David Russell will continue as the Newsletter Editor and Webmaster. 

Yes, we’re already in planning mode for school year 2015-16!

To test, or not to test, that is THE QUESTION.

Crossroads Christian School does not require that your homeschooled students be tested. However, we do provide the opportunity if you desire it. We are able to obtain the Stanford 10 at a very reasonable price. In grades 2, 5, & 8, the OLSAT is given with the 
Stanford.  The Otis-Lennon School Ability Test is an additional 40 or 50 minute subtest that gives you some measure of how your student's achievement compares to his/her abilities. The tests will be computer-scored, and you will receive a copy of the results. 

October update from Southeast Law Institute

November 4, 2014 will be the general election.  There will be many candidates on the ballot.  Also, there will be several important statewide Alabama constitutional amendments.  The first one will be the American and Alabama Laws for Alabama Courts Act (“AALAC”).  It was passed by an overwhelming majority in the regular session of the 2013 Alabama Legislature.  There was virtually no opposition to it and it was highly favored.  As a constitutional amendment, it must go to the voters for approval.  It is a very important step in the protection of Alabama’s long held public policy.
 
When Alabama became a state in 1819, she began developing laws, regulations and court opinions all of which form the state’s public policy.  We began with the common law foundations back to the Magna Carta in 1215.  We build on that continuously and it is important that we preserve the very strong foundations that we have.
 
We are living in a time of rapid change.  The catalyst for much of this is the ease with which information is now found and shared.  The internet and cell phones shrink the world in such a way that borders and obstacles that once existed between peoples seemingly no longer exist.  However, we must realize that with this ecumenical evolution, we must not forget principles that bind our corporate conscience together.
 
AALAC is an important step in that direction.  It will govern how Alabama judges and administrative bodies will deal with outside influences on our laws.  As a constitutional law, it will carry more authority and will govern statutes, administrative regulations and court rules of procedure.  Here is a summary of the AALAC requirements:
 

  • A court, arbitrator or other agency shall not apply a foreign law that would violate a constitutional right.
  • A contract for choice of foreign law will be modified or amended to preserve a constitutional right.
  • A contract for choice of venue or forum for dispute resolution outside the United States that would violate a constitutional right would be construed to preserve the right and deny removal.
  • A contractual provision incapable of modification to preserve a constitutional right shall be void.
  • A court shall not be required by contract to apply a foreign law that violates a constitutional right.
  • As an exception, an Alabama business entity may contract or subject itself to foreign law.
  • The laws of another state that violate Alabama’s public policy shall not be given full faith and credit.

 
The actual wording of Statewide Amendment 1 that will be on the ballot is as follows:
 
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to prohibit Alabama courts from giving full faith and credit to public acts, records, or judicial proceedings of another state that violate constitutional policy of the State of Alabama and to prohibit the application of foreign law in violation of rights guaranteed natural citizens by the United States and Alabama Constitutions, and the statutes, laws, and public policy thereof, but without application to business entities.  (Proposed by Act 2013-269)”
 
(   ) Yes 
(   ) No 
 
In recent years we have increasingly seen courts looking to the laws of other countries for making decisions.  As examples, the U.S. Supreme Court in Atkins v. Virginia (2002) relied on foreign authorities to strike down capital punishment laws related to mentally retarded persons and in Texas v. Lawrence (2003) looked to the European Court of Human Rights and the laws of other nations to strike down a Texas criminal statute for same-sex sodomy.  The Federalist Society opined that these cases “allow a camel’s nose under the tent of American constitutional jurisprudence.”  In 2012, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggested that Egypt might consider the South African Constitution as a basis for its law, rather than the U.S. Constitution.  America’s founding fathers came to these shores to guarantee religious freedom and other liberties.  There is no reason to be looking backward to “Old Europe” and other places for guidance. 
 
Some have suggested the bill is unconstitutional because it singles out that part of Islam known as “Sharia law,” which is Muslim belief and practice related to law and politics.  Sharia law is nowhere mentioned in the Act.  It would apply, however, to those situations where individual’s constitutional rights would be infringed due to the application of such a law.  There have already been cases, though none in Alabama to this time, where Muslims have asked courts to apply Sharia law in lieu of state law.  This usually results in denial to women of equal protection rights.
 
Another objection we received is that a state cannot refuse to give full faith and credit to the laws of sister states as required by Article IV, Section One of the U.S. Constitution.  That is a misunderstanding of constitutional law.[1]  The U.S. Supreme Court and Alabama Supreme Court have clearly articulated standards by which conflict in public policies of other states shall not be applied.  We do not wish to give full faith and credit to laws of other states that clearly conflict with our public policy.  Examples of this are same sex issues or legalization of marijuana.  It is unlikely AALAC will stop the U.S. Supreme Court from striking down our traditional marriage statute, thereby permitting same sex marriage in Alabama.   However, there will be a great deal of fallout from any such decision affecting child custody, adoption, inheritance, and other such laws.  We have already had one California same sex custody issue attempted to be enforced in Alabama courts.  There are great uncertainties in these types of actions, but AALAC will provide some measure of protection of our public policy.
 
The 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution protects our state’s rights.  If our sister states and other countries continue to deviate into aberrant social experiments, we do not want our judges put in the position of having to entertain arguments and decide difficult cases based on somebody else’s laws.  By amending the Alabama Constitution with these guidelines, Alabama judges will be able to reference this controlling authority and it will simplify reviews by our appellant courts.  Whenever it is possible to make a strong statement for Alabama’s public policy, it is a good idea to do so.  AALAC is a good idea. 
 
Please share this Educational Update with friends and others.  As a reminder, churches and nonprofit organizations may actively support an issue referendum such as this.  It is important that we preserve our heritage for generations to come.  We urge you to vote “YES” on “Amendment 1.”
 
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In addition to several local amendments, there are four other statewide amendments on the ballot:
 
Statewide Amendment 2:  Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, relating to the Capital Improvement Trust Fund, to increase the amount of the General Obligation Bonds authorized herein; to provide for additional payments from the Alabama Trust Fund to fund any bond issued; to provide for competitive bidding of the bonds; and to provide for the distribution of the proceeds for plans, construction, and maintenance of Alabama National Guard armories. (Proposed by Act 2013-266)
 
Statewide Amendment 3:  Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that every citizen has a fundamental right to bear arms and that any restriction on this right would be subject to strict scrutiny; and to provide that no international treaty or law shall prohibit, limit, or otherwise interfere with a citizen’s fundamental right to bear arms. (Proposed by Act 2013-267)
 
Statewide Amendment 4:  Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to prohibit a general law, whose purpose or effect is to require a new or increased expenditure of at least $50,000 of local funds annually, from becoming effective with regard to a city or county board of education without enactment by a 2/3 vote.  (Proposed by Act 2014-185)
 
Statewide Amendment 5:  Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to amend Amendment 597, now appearing as Section 36.02 of the Official Recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, to clarify that the people have the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife subject to reasonable regulations that promote conservation and management of fish and wildlife and preserve the future of hunting and fishing.  (Proposed by Act 2014-286)

Special Call for Legislative Action

As I’m writing this, we are involved in understanding what is going on in the Alabama legislature, regarding a couple of bills.  I hesitate to write now, knowing that I may not know all the facts. But I’ll try.
 
Last November Ron & I had the opportunity to hear state school board of education members Stephanie Bell and Betty Peters.  They talked about two issues:  the attempt by the state superintendent of education to regulate non-public schools, and the issues related to the Common Core standards. 
 
In speaking about what is going on in Alabama, they spoke of the need to address certain ambiguities in the Alabama legislative code so that non-public schools would be protected from the administrative regulations from which the Alabama Department of Education believes it has authority to exert regulatory power over non-public schools (which include private schools and church schools).  They were emphatic that the time to do this is in this current legislative session. 
 
Today, we have come to understand that HB 546 and SB420 were deliberately written to attempt to clarify the legal language in the current legislative code, to prevent the DOE from exerting power they do not have.   If these bills are codified into law, the Alabama DOE cannot use administrative regulations to do things not allowed in the legislative code.  Many groups have worked together to write these bills, including on-campus church schools, as well as homeschool church schools, private schools, and Catholic schools.  These bills address transfer issues, admission into fire colleges and police academies, and would give our graduates a more level playing field when applying for admission into these institutions.  It even addresses state overreach on church-run preschools.

The two main sources of worry in these bills seem to be the directory kept by the state board of education and the advisory committee. 
 
I think the good things that are happening right now are the many groups in the state who are impacted by these bills are communicating more than we have in the past.  These bills are designed to help a larger group of people than just homeschoolers. 
 
The Senate bill was tabled in committee on March 5.  The House bill comes up for discussion in committee the second week of March. 
 
I will keep you apprised of what’s going on legislatively, as I hear.   The important thing is that we continue to pray for favor from the Lord in protecting our freedom to homeschool here in Alabama.  Pray for wisdom for the men and women who are writing and revising the bills, that they would be able to hear from the different groups and accommodate their various needs.  Pray for the state Senators and state Representatives to have the discernment to understand the issues and vote wisely. 
 
“Do not fear or be dismayed … for the battle is not yours but God’s.”  (II Chronicles 20:15). 

SOME THOUGHTS ON TESTING

I spoke a bit about testing at the January faculty meetings, but here’s some more of my thoughts on this topic. It’s okay if you don’t agree with me, but I’d like to make sure you at least have an opportunity to think about these things.
 
There are valid reasons NOT to test your students. Perhaps they have a documented learning disability which would preclude accurate results from a standardized test. They may have a test phobia, or become over-anxious in a timed environment. Your family may not have the money or the time to devote to a standardized test. But, if there is no particular reason that your student cannot test, then it is a good idea to get your child accustomed to taking tests.
 
The reality is that test scores are used in many different ways in life. A homeschooling parent can use them as an objective measurement of a child’s educational progress. Never use an achievement test as the ONLY measurement of educational progress. But it is a useful tool as you consider your total educational program for your students. When you receive the results, you are able to evaluate the effectiveness of your teaching or choice of curriculum. It there is a strength, you probably already know. But if there is a weakness, then you can make changes to address that.
 
If your student has never tested, then you need to make sure the anxiety level is reduced, both in you and in your student. The younger you start, the easier it is to avoid text anxiety. A lot of students do not test well. But you need to know this before your students are in high school and taking college entrance tests. If you wait to begin testing when your students are in high school, and he or she does poorly the first time, a lot of hand wringing follows. Parents begin questioning their student’s abilities, or their choice to homeschool, or whether or not he or she would have done better with another teacher. Once your student is in high school, you don’t have as much time to adjust to testing as you do if your student begins testing in elementary school.

As your students get older and face high school and college, test scores are used as entrance requirements: for college, for scholarships, as pre-requisites for college and high school classes, for honor societies, etc. Your student’s GPA and ACT/ SAT test scores are the two major qualifying items for most college scholarships.
 
This is simply the reality of the world. As Christians we are to be in the world, but not of the world. As homeschoolers, we do not have to model our schooling after the public or private system. However, we do not know what the Lord has in mind for our children as they move into adulthood. Parents should prepare children with a broad education, equipping them as adequately as possible for whatever God has planned for them.
 
For employers, colleges, military, etc. who may be considering your student in the future, a test score gives a comparison of how your student ranks next to other students who have taken the same test. It gives them an objective opinion of your student’s achievement. If two students take the same test, then their scores give some idea of how those two students may compare academically, sort of like comparing apples to apples.
 
A test doesn’t reflect a student’s potential, or his abilities, or provide any insight into his character. Many students become productive citizens without ever taking a test. If you decide not to have your student tested, you won’t be damaging your child. There are valid reasons NOT to test your student. However, in my experience, a average ACT/SAT, or Stanford score, along with a diploma, gives an objective measurement of your student’s achievement and tends to provide enough extra information to affirm what you already know about your student, that they have received a high school education.