Depending on where you live, your state may require standardized testing to ensure your child is receiving a well-rounded education. Of course, you state may not require testing, but for your own mental well-being you’d like to test your children to ensure you aren’t missing any key points in their education.
No matter the reason, testing season has begun around the United States. For those of us who are not a part of a PSP, who helpfully arrange our testing for us, this means we have to go out and buy tests ourselves. Just where does a homeschooling parent go to buy said test? Which test should we be buying? And, when exactly am I supposed to be giving them? I’m glad you asked!
Choosing a Standardized Test
The Iowa Tests meet most state’s requirements for an annual, nationally normed standardized test and offer educators a diagnostic look at how their students are progressing in key academic areas.
Available for Kindergarten to Grade 12, the Iowa tests allow educators to trace student achievement growth continuously. These tests can be administered year-round by someone with at least a B.A. degree.
The Stanford 10 Achievement includes a Lexile measure on all Stanford 10 score reports (except for SESAT levels). The test is untimed and in full-color, and special formatting keeps students focused, interested, and on track during testing.
The Stanford 10 is nationally standardized and meets most state requirements. It is available year-round, and you may administer the complete battery or omit the optional sections of the test. Please be aware that some areas may need to use an alternate form of the Stanford test series.
The California Achievement Test, CAT E/Survey (Grades 2, 4-12) is a nationally normed standardized test that measures achievement in the areas of Reading, Language Arts and Math. It meets most states’ requirements for an annual assessment for homeschool and private school use. This is a Core Battery/Survey Edition and takes approximately 2½ hours to administer. NO BACHELOR’S DEGREE REQUIRED!
The PASS Test was developed specifically for home schoolers. It has certain similarities to other achievement tests in that it measures student achievement in the subjects of reading, language, and mathematics. But it has important differences:
- It was designed for parents to administer at home. This can greatly reduce the stress level of testing. We do not require that a certified teacher administer it.
- It is untimed, which helps students relax.
- It consists of many test levels instead of one per grade. As a result, students take a shorter test and find most questions challenging but not frustrating. By contrast, tests for an entire grade must cover a broad range of abilities and therefore many items are either too hard or too easy. A brief placement test is included with the PASS to help choose a test level of appropriate difficulty.
- While the PASS results show personal achievement and national percentile comparisons like other tests, they also include home school percentiles and improvement suggestions for each subject.
- Because of the inherent stress of testing and our informal approach to teaching lower elementary grades, the PASS test is only available for grades three through eight.
When to Administer Standardized Tests
Depending on the state you live in, testing may be required in the early elementary years. Determine what your state laws are and test accordingly. If your state has no required testing, consider starting the testing process around sixth grade. This will help your middle school student better prepare for the upcoming college SAT’s and ACT’s.
Generally speaking, standardized tests are given toward the end of each school year; beginning in April. You can take the test all in one day or stager each subject, taking them through the course of a week.
Reviewing Results of Standardized Tests
As we’ve mentioned before, we do not use our results to determine our children’s grades. The results of these tests are more for us as teachers, helping us to determine which subjects might need a boost during the coming year. These tests are not the end-all-be-all of learning; merely a ruler to measure their progress. Keep in mind, not all children test well; however, testing is something they probably ought to become familiar with, especially if they plan to attend college.
Some states do require a minimum allowable score. If this is the case, try doing a pretest to prepare your child and give yourself an idea of which areas might need a refresher before taking the actual test.
Where to Buy Standardized Tests
To purchase any of the tests previously mentioned, simply click on the links above. Companies that offer standardized testing are aBeka, BJU, Hewitt Testing, and Seton Testing. Feeling a little uncomfortable about administering the test on your own? Do a quick Google search and find out if any local groups are offering testing in your area.
Testing isn’t the final authority on how well our children are doing in their learning, but it does have its benefits. Consider which test is best for your family and move forward with confidence. Use the results not as a final score on your child’s education, but as a guide for what could be improved during the next school year. This is test, this is only a test…
🔔Time to Chime In: Do you administer your own standardized tests at home? Which test do you prefer and why? Or, does your family prefer not to test? Share your thoughts with us on why you refrain and how you determine which areas might need improvement.