It’s that time of the year again! Time for the dreaded T E S T I N G. So for today’s Homeschooling 101 post, we’re going to dig into the details of standardized testing and homeschooling!
Are you excited?
You should be because I’m here to encourage homeschoolers everywhere!
Testing isn’t as bad as you think, and YES YOU CAN DO IT!
As with everything, you’ll want to start by checking your state requirements to determine if standardized testing is required. Some states offer testing or yearly assessments which are less stressful for the student, so it is good to know what your requirements are.
I prefer to test regardless of my state requirements because I use the tests to gauge how well my students are doing. We choose to test annually starting in 2nd grade. In my state testing is required starting in 3rd grades and every odd grade after that. I begin in 2nd grade to give my students a “trial run” test. This allows them to get used to the test itself as well as lets me know if there is an area we need to work on. You’re welcome to do whatever works best for your family, or whatever is required by your state.
I know that standardized testing can seem daunting, but I want to assure you that it is not as difficult as you may think it is. The tests are fairly easy to order, administer, and submit. Our kids did very well on them and it was a nice re-assurance to me that we are doing well in our curriculum choices and decision to homeschool. We also have a few areas to work on, and that is a good thing to find out too.
Homeschool testing requirements vary by state, so you’ll want to check recent laws by state, you can find information at the HSLDA Website. PLEASE NOTE: I do not live in IOWA, the Iowa Standardized tests are available no matter where you live, you can administer any test you like as long as it is acceptable through your state requirements.
I was previously nervous about the whole “testing” topic and had kind of avoided it, but really it was very easy. I wanted to share a little info with you all to relieve any test anxiety you may have as well.
So what is the process? Read on to find out!
Step 1: Choose Your Tests
Per state requirements decide whether or not you will test your students each year. We choose to test annually starting in 2nd grade even though it is not required by our state. Stating in 2nd grade gives the student a “practice” year to get used to taking the tests. It also shows you as the teacher areas you may need to work on.
There are several different tests you can choose depending on your state requirements. Examples include the Stanford Tests, Iowa Test of Basic Skills, and California Achievement Tests.
If you hold a Bachelor’s Degree you can order the Iowa Standard Tests from BJU Press Testing. You can also order Stanford Tests from them as well. You can find more information on Test options at HSLDA Website. If you are going to do Iowa’s you need to first get approved as a test administrator. There is a Test Administrator Application link on the left sidebar of their site. For Iowa’s you’ll need to send in a copy of your Bachelor’s diploma. I faxed it over and received approval within about 10 days. Tests must be completed and returned within a certain time frame, they will give you specifics when you order.
If you don’t hold a BA you can still administer tests at home by using the CAT tests. You can purchase them from Christian Liberty Press. They are a bit shorter so they don’t take as long, and they are also a less expensive option as well!
If you don’t wish to test your kiddos at home, you will need to find a certified testing administrator in your area. You can contact BJU Press for help finding registered test administrators. Also make sure to check with local homeschool organizations they often offer group testing and discounts, in addition many umbrella schools offer testing services even if you do are not registered with them.
Tip #1 from the trenches:
If you know you are going to test this year, be proactive and set a date to order tests so they arrive close to when you finish school for the year.
Students tend to “forget things” once they go into summer brain mode.
Test in the final quarter of your year, that way students haven’t checked out for the summer yet, and you have had a chance to teach most of the new skill sets for the year.
STEP 2. Administer Tests
Read the rules for administering your test. Depending on the grade you are testing you may be required to test certain grades separately.
You’ll want to pick a well-lit spot, and provide a quiet time with little distraction. Your test will come with a suggested schedule, and for the most part we follow that. If you follow the test schedule in your book you’ll see it can take up to a week to complete the tests if you do 2-3 per day. I found my kids did better when we did a couple per day as opposed to doing them all in one day, but you could certainly choose to do that. We had “Testing Week” at our house and at the end of the week we took everyone out for ice cream to celebrate.
Tip #2 from the trenches:
Have plenty of sharpened pencils and scratch paper available before starting.
STEP 3. Send in your completed tests
You’ll want to follow all return directions for whatever tests you purchased. Flip through your test booklets and make sure there are no stray marks or incomplete dots filled in so as not to skew your results. Make sure all items to be included are sent back or your results will not be processed.
The Iowa test will require you use a service such as FedEx or UPS so the package is traceable, so just make sure that you follow the rules listed on your test.
STEP 4. File your results
If it is a required testing year for you, you’ll want to submit your test scores to the appropriate location. You will need to find out what is required in your state.
In ours, I am required to submit my testing results on odd years starting at the end of grade 3 to my local school district, or I can also submit them to my umbrella school. In some cases if you are enrolled in a public school funded options program (a.k.a. “Friday School” and the like) you are required to keep records of testing yourself.
Either way, you’ll need to find the appropriate method of submitting results for your state and follow those rules. You can get more information on your state’s requirements by contacting the Department of Education for your district.
Now that we’ve completed our first year of testing, I want to assure you that it is not as difficult as you may think it is. The tests are fairly easy to order, administer, and submit. Our kids did very well on them and it was a nice re-assurance to me that we are doing well in our decision to homeschool. I do have a few areas to work on, and that is a good thing to find out as well.
Disclosure: I am not an attorney, nor should the information contained in this post be taken as legal advice. If you have questions regarding homeschooling in your state, please visit www.hslda.org or contact the department of education in your district.
Want more information? Check out Homeschooling 101: A guide to getting started!
If you’ve missed my previous posts make sure to check them out!
- Getting Started
- Getting Started Part 2
- Planning Ahead
- Methods & Styles
- Choosing Curriculum
- Gathering Curriculum
- Creating Lesson Plans Part 1
- Creating Lesson Plans Part 2
- Teacher Organization
- Student Organization
- Homeschool Storage Solutions
- First Day of School
- Teaching Multiple Grades
- Homeschooling and Discipline