Should you have your children tested? There are cases both for and against homeschool testing. Arguments against standards conflict and teaching to the test are most often cited. Read more about these ideas and decide for yourself what is right for your family.
While there are many critics of standardized testing, it can also be a useful tool for comparing children to a standard and figuring out how you are doing. Homeschool testing can serve as a way to see what your students understand, or what gaps may have occurred in learning, if any. Homeschool testing can also serve as a way to help deepen knowledge students may already have about the topic. In our family we have always been open to standardized testing because we think it’s a good measurement tool to see how our children are doing academically, but this will be our first year actually taking a standardized test. We’ve gone our entire homeschool journey without testing, and I would feel pretty confident with what we’re doing at home even if we weren’t taking the California STAR testing this year.
The only issue of concern I have with testing is allowing it to be the measurement by which we teach our children. Public schools get much flack for hyper-focusing on state testing rather than really tapping into the art of teaching for the love of teaching. As homeschoolers, we have the joy and freedom to opt out of testing if we feel it would cause us more trouble than the end result is worth. However, if we can strike a healthy balance between keeping assessment of our children and freely teaching the material that suits our family and lifestyle (no pressure “teaching to the test”), then homeschool testing can actually be a very useful tool.
If you are concerned about knowing which math level to place your child in using a certain curriculum (for example, Singapore Math), there are many homeschool curriculum publishers that offer placement tests. Another type of test is a diagnostic test, which will test your child’s grade level in specific academic subjects. An achievement test, on the other hand, will compare your child’s performance to other children in the same grade. Scores will show in pecentiles.
For more information about homeschool testing, view some of the following sites and find out what they have to offer:
- About.com info on homeschool testing
- North Carolina Testing and Consulting Services
- Thurber’s Educational Assessments (offers the California Achievement Testing)
- Family Learning Organization
- BJU Press Testing
- John Hopkins Diagnostic Center
- Seton Testing
For a complete listing of which tests are offered in your particular state, see Time4Learning’s information on homeschool testing.