Monday, March 5, 2012

Achievement Testing for Homeschooling? Ten things

I've decided to join the blog cruise! This week's topic is near and dear to my heart because I'm under pressure this week. I have until tomorrow to sign up for our annual standardized testing. We do this every year, as it is my choice of evaluation to turn into our local school district. It usually works well for my family, only this year it falls on a very busy week. Our annual Bible conference, where we will be out each night, friends will be in town and we will host a family in our home.  Part of me wants to skip it and use Seton Home testing services. But I won't. I'll stay with the plan and hope for the best. I have many reasons for staying the course.

  1. Each year during the spring school break, our homeschool group offers testing through Bob Jones University. They administer the Stanford Achievement Tests to the students in a classroom setting. My friend, the blogless Lori, organizes the whole event. The tests are timed and the atmosphere is controlled.
  2. After about 6 weeks, we are mailed the results. Their scores are compared to public and private schooled children all over the United States.
  3. I use it as a tool to compare progress from year to year. This will be our sixth year testing. Because we always use the same company and testing format, the results are more consistent. Once in a while there will be dramatic increases or decreases in the results, but for the most part they are consistent.
  4. I have mixed emotions about the testing. I believe life's stresses are a more important character test. How do they fare in adversity, when things don't go their way or when they are pressed to work hard? Those tests have much more priority to me.
  5. I consider it part of my report card. If they do well in some areas, I pat myself on the back and say well done. If they score poorly in an area, after a 30 second mental breakdown, I re-evaluate my plans and curriculum to see what needs changing. Do they need extra help in an area? Are their gaps in their math education? With classical education and using Math-U-See, I used to worry if they knew enough American history and math. There was no need to.
  6. This is an easy way to avoid creating an educational portfolio for our local school administrator. I used to agonize over work samples and stress out wondering if I was providing too little or too much.
  7. I don't ask them do practice tests in the weeks prior. I used to because I did not want them to mis-align the bubbles on the answer sheet. If it happens in 9th or 10th grade, that's on them. They will practice SAT and Code tests, as the stakes are higher on those.
  8. I enjoy the results as they are very specific about which skill was mastered or not. I can actually teach to the past test results. This is one of the reasons I still use Daily Grams for Paperboy, some skills need to be used daily. If not, they fall into the abyss of the brain that stores the 8 parts of speech.
  9. I feel this prepares them for the many upcoming tests they will have. In the near future there will be the driver's test, the ASVAB test, the SAT test and the Electrical code and theory test. This is more practice in the art of testing.
  10. I do not panic if the scores aren't what they hoped for. Some children are just better at test taking than others. Out of my four boys, they are all very different in the testing setting, just like in real life. 
Other members of the crew discussed homeschooling and testing. Stop by here and see what they have to say about it.

I'm curious, do you test your students each year? How do you approach it? Do you prep them for the tests? Do you agonize over the results? Leave me a comment, make my day.

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