It’s here; the fateful day. After waiting weeks, anxiously watching for the moment the mailman puts that envelope in your box, your child’s standardized test scores have finally arrived. Perhaps you rip open the envelope, fully confident your child’s scores are above average (they are homeschooled after all). Perhaps you open the envelope with trepidation, unsure of what you’ll find. As your eyes scan the paperwork in front of you, your heart sinks and a million thoughts start rushing through your head. Your child has scored poorly on standardized testing… now what do you do?
First off, let me say this. Your child has not failed! Second, these tests don’t tell you everything. They are exactly what you would suppose, ‘standard’. They don’t test everything; this is not the sum of your child’s knowledge. This is a general assessment of learning.
Over the last several weeks, I’ve come across several parents who are worried about their children’s test results. Allow me to offer a few words of encouragement and share my thoughts.
The first thing we ought to consider is the testing format being used. Not all children test well under the same circumstances. Perhaps the test used, or the way in which the test was administered, was a problem for them. Using a different test, or changing the environment in which the test was taken, might help in the future.
Supposing the format was not a problem, the level of our child’s anxiety might also be an issue. I’ve seen children become ill over the thought of taking standardized tests, especially when given by someone other than their own parent. The low score might only be a symptom of their inability to concentrate due to nerves.
If our children normally do well in their lessons and score high on weekly tests, they might enter into standardized testing presuming they’ll do well. While I don’t like to over-emphasize these tests, my children need to have a realistic view of their abilities. Scoring well on weekly arithmetic tests does not mean these exams will be a walk in the park.
Your Child’s Speed
Whether due to nerves or overconfidence, sometimes our children rush through standardized tests merely wanting it to be done and over with. Low scores might merely indicate our child went a little faster than they should have done. In the future, if they slow down a bit, their scores ought to improve.
Your Child’s Curriculum
Lastly, one should also consider the curriculum currently being used by the child. Not all curricula covers the same material. It is unfair to expect a child to test well in an area he has yet to learn. One year, one of my daughters came rushing out of a finished test (which was being administered by another parent) to anxiously ask me what a stem and leaf plot was; we had never covered this. Frankly, I had never heard of this, nor had, it seemed, any other parent in the room. Sure enough, her test results reflected this. We therefore have two options available to us: Continue with our current curriculum, knowing it might contain a few gaps, or choose new curriculum. Allow the Lord to lead you in making the right decision for your child.
While I have no opposition to standardized tests (it is good to have a general idea about your child’s aptitude level), we need to keep in mind that such tests do not ultimately reflect a child’s intelligence. These tests are only meant to be guides. If your child’s test scores are not quite what you had hoped they’d be, pray about the results and then ask God to show you your next step. One thing you shouldn’t do is obsess about test results.
Keep in mind, you know your child better than anyone else. You know his daily progress, his strengths, and his weaknesses. This is a test; this is only a test. Treat it as such.
“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature [nor on his test scores], because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (Italics mine 😃)
I Samuel 16:7
🔔Time to Chime In: For those who choose to test their children, do you share their results with them? Why or why not?