Standardized Testing

1 Aug

At the end of this past school year, some of the parents from our homeschool co-op decided to have our kids take standardized tests.  For me, I wanted to know if we were “on track,” generally speaking, and  what areas I should give more attention to next year.  Our DS#1, who will be a Junior this year, took the Stanford Achievement Test and DD#1, DD#2, and DS#2 all took the Iowa Basic Skills Test.  Most of them had never sat for a comprehensive test like this before, so that in itself was an important experience for them.  I was pleased with the experience overall and was encouraged by the results.  All were at least at grade level and far ahead in some areas.  One subject they all need to work on is geography, which I was planning on incorporating this coming school year anyway.  Commas apparently were an issue for some, so I will make sure we address that this year in their writing assignments.  (I find commas to be challenging at times myself, so it will be good for me to review.)

I certainly do not put a ton of weight on the importance of the standardized tests, but I do find them  to be a helpful benchmark in our homeschool journey.

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6 Responses to “Standardized Testing”

  1. Wendi August 3, 2010 at 9:18 PM #

    Hi, I found your blog at the Hip Homeschool Hop 🙂

    I have not had any of my kiddos take any standardized tests yet…they are still young (oldest is 3rd grade). I imagine we will go that route at some point in the future, mainly as an assessment tool to help us determine what we’re doing well, and what we need to work on.

    I enjoyed reading through some of your past posts…your blog is an encouragement to this homeschooling mama of younger kiddos 🙂

    • sevenmillerz August 3, 2010 at 9:43 PM #

      Thanks! I was a little hesitant at first about standardized testing, but I am glad I did it. As you said, it is a good “assessment tool.” I’m not making any major changes based on the outcome of the tests, but I am tweaking a little to make sure some things are covered better. Thanks for your kind words!

  2. Tiffany August 10, 2010 at 2:06 AM #

    Hello,

    My co-op administers the IOWA test. I am new to homeschooling, my oldest is only in Kindergarten and my husband really wants him to take a test yearly for assessment purposes. Is there a way we can prepare for these test. For Kindergarten is there someone giving directions for each section. I am stressing out about it. I keep getting these feelings about what if he gets tired during the test and wants to stop, or what if i am not teaching him adequately etc. etc. Can you provide any insight? Thanks.

    • sevenmillerz August 10, 2010 at 8:59 AM #

      I can relate to those feelings! Before my kids took the tests, I felt sure the tests would reveal huge gaps in our schooling and confirm my worst fears that I am not a good home educator! I was also anxious because we haven’t always followed a standard progression of study in some subjects. For example, in Science we have done unit studies on whatever we happen to be interested in rather than magnets and plants in grade 2, solar system in grade 3, etc. Also, my DS#1 hadn’t taken Geometry yet (he had just finished his sophomore year) because we chose to do Algebra 2 directly after Algebra 1 and planned to cover Geometry in his Junior year. So I decided that if they didn’t test as highly in those areas we wouldn’t stress about it.
      The lady who administered the testing was great. She explained ahead of time the procedures of the testing, especially for the youngest. The testing was broken down into parts over three days and the kids had breaks in between the sections. She said they did get antsy a little, but my DS#2 is the kind of kid who would much rather be outside in a pretend sword fight than sitting inside doing anything that resembles school! LOL I think with the younger kids, the administrators of the test are very understanding, especially knowing that this may be the first time they have sat for a test like this.
      Can you prepare? The best preparation is the consistent progress you make throughout the school year. Can you “cram” for a test like this? Other than letting your kids know, as best you can, what to expect and saying it in positive terms and tone of voice, probably not much. Perhaps the more important issue is can YOU prepare. Try not to be stressed about it…it’s amazing how much of our attitudes rubs off on our kids. Also, consider these tests to be part evaluation and part guideline for what to focus on the next year. NOT that you should “teach to the test,” because we homeschoolers know there is a wealth of things we want our kids to learn that cannot be evaluated by a paper test. BUT these tests can serve as a helpful analysis of strengths and weaknesses that we can choose to address the next school year. Just don’t let these tests hold more power than they ought! Take heart that you know and love your child the most and you obviously value his/her education—those qualities combined together will accomplish far more than teaching to any test!

  3. Robin August 10, 2010 at 9:55 AM #

    Visiting from the Blog Hop. For my daughter, testing of any sort depends on the day she is having. She was diagnosed with ADHD, and some days are quite the struggle to focus. Therefore, the results could be very inaccurate. That being said, I do think standarized testing is a great tool to use as a benchmark. Obviously, you will know if your child truly knows the material or not. I am going to look into some grade placement testing to give us an idea of where she is at compared to her peers. This would just be an “fyi” assessment that would help me solidfy what she knows or needs more help with.

  4. Tiffany January 11, 2012 at 1:37 PM #

    I came across this post agian I don’t know how but glad I did. We did have my son tested at the end of his K year and he did very well. Two grade levels ahead in all subjects except for math which he was one grade level ahead. Not bad for a first year hs mom who felt like she did not have a glue. We will be testing again at the conclusion of our first grade year in May. Thanks for the post and the resposne.

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