This week our family is doing Standardized Testing to fulfill the requirements of our state (to show “proof of progress.”) For our family, doing testing is easier than creating a portfolio of work or meeting with a certified teacher. I know that I would spend endless hours pulling together a portfolio… and meeting with a teacher to discuss the kids’ work doesn’t appeal to me again because I know I would go overboard trying to gather all their materials, print out pictures of what we’ve done, etc.
With testing it’s pretty easy. Once I have the results, I have to mail them in to our local school district and that’s that.
The kids don’t mind the testing. We don’t spend time “prepping for the test.” I know that it’s pretty common in our area for kids to take practice tests in schools so they are “ready.” The only things we do in advance is make sure we’ve gone over the grammar rules again (recently the kids just went over the comma rules sheets, semi-colon rules, capitalization rules and practice sheets that I’ve made for the kids over the years). And, I also have the kids polish up on some of the math problems/rules they should have down (so my kids went over basic geometry rules and stuff). Writing this down it makes it sound like a bigger deal than it really is.
I also think it’s useful for the kids to have the “official testing” experience. We don’t have weekly quizzes and test in our homeschool — learning looks pretty different than in a traditional public school, but taking the element of mystery out of this type of testing has value and as I said above, my kids really don’t mind the tests.
My 8 year old is doing the Terra Nova (CAT) test. It’s on paper and I have to read through all the directions (and be right there in the room as she takes the test to keep her moving forward.)
My older two (ages 10 and 12 – grades 5 and 7) are going to do the Stanford 10 Online Test again this year. Two years ago they did the California Achievement Test, but when I returned their results to the testing company the mailing envelope was destroyed by the postal service along the way. Their answer sheets were gone. NOOoooooo!!!!! (Brewer testing was *wonderful* to work with when all that happened!!) So, the kids had to do another test that year – and we tried the Stanford Online Test. They took the test over the course of several days. Then once they had completed the entire test, their results were emailed back to us (within a day!!).
After doing both the paper and the online versions of standardized testing I let the kids decide which they preferred. Both kids asked to do the Stanford 10 Online test again — so last year (and this year) that’s what they’ll be doing.
The Stanford 10 Online Test that my older two kids have used the past couple of years is only available for grades 3 to 12.
A very good friend of mine uses the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. She said it is very similar to the Terra Nova – CAT Test, but is perhaps a bit more rigorous/thorough. She has decided to go with the Iowa test the past couple of years.
I have used Brewer Testing Services for the past several years to order our tests. As I said above, the staff and Brewer were amazing to work with when all that happened with the lost tests. I’ve used them again this year. I’m not an affiliate, but have found them reliable and easy to work with. (Prior to that we used Seton Testing Services and they were fine too).
If you have any questions, feel free to ask! ~Liesl
P.S. Last week I wrote a post about Spending Time Reviewing. But I just wanted to add that the kinds of things we review aren’t really helpful on a standardized test. In that post I talked about how spent time going over some of our past units like Simple Machines or the three branches of government… We spend time reviewing so I have a better feel for what they remember and how much they retained, but not for the purpose of these standardized tests. Just wanted to add that in here!!