Who in the world hears “standardized testing” and doesn’t have a simultaneous desire to take a nap and have an anxiety attack?
Standardized tests are universally horrible and I always thought I would never subject my homeschooled kids to them…at least not for a long time.
Did you know that public school kids take about 112 mandatory standardized tests between pre-k and 12th grade??
These tests suck up 20-25 hours (on average) of class time every year.
Parents hate it, students hate it, and I’m sure their teachers have some strong opinions too.
Why would any self respecting homeschool subject their students to testing too?
I found out really quickly that this is a polarizing topic among the homeschool moms I hang out with.
I once said, “Who would ever standardize test a 1st grader?! That’s just crazy!”
I received a quiet response with raised eyebrows.
Apparently, my friend had tested her 1st grader.
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As I fumbled to pull my foot out of my mouth in that conversation, I started to scramble for reasons to explain my view point.
For those of you who live in states like Oklahoma, where you don’t have to tell the school board a thing about your homeschool, you might not understand why this is even a question.
I live in a state that requires you “show progress” at the end of every school year.
This is done by providing the local school board with results from a standardized test, a portfolio, or a letter from a homeschool evaluator (must be someone with a masters in education).
When I first started homeschooling, I thought it was insane to subject my kids to a standardized test.
So it would seem, I have been pretty locked into my position on standardized testing and homeschooling.
For my first 2 years of homeschooling, I opted for the evaluator and felt perfectly fine about it.
Once a year, I scheduled an appointment.
I brought all of our curriculum, worksheets, finished projects, etc. The evaluator and I talked quite a bit, he asked my daughter a few questions, had her read to him, and that was that.
We were given a letter to submit to the school board and went on with our day.
After the second year with the homeschool evaluator, I was driving home and started to feet uneasy.
It made sense that my kids be evaluated on the actual work we brought to the meeting…but what could he really assess in 30 minutes?
I thought this over for a long time and decided that our third year of homeschooling we would try our hand at standardized testing.
We could always go back to the evaluator if it was the nightmare I remembered from my childhood.
In fact, I scheduled our standardized test for the spring – leaving me PLENTY of time to throw it out the window and schedule a meeting with our evaluator, if need be.
I didn’t think there were any, but after giving my first standardized test – I found there are a lot!
Yeah, that last one bowled me over too.
I have actually asked her serval times what she thought of the test, just to confirm that comment wasn’t a fluke.
There were some bumpy parts to the test, but overall she liked reading the stories, answering the science questions, and solving some of the math problems.
The only thing that makes sense to me is that is the result of taking a test in a relaxed, low stress environment with a teacher who is not going to be fired despite the results.
I know that all sounds like everything was rainbows and roses while we took the test…not so much.
Here are the things you want to watch out for with standardized testing your homeschooler:
There were a lot of pros and cons, but there was ONE HUGE TAKEAWAY for me.
My kid knew the large majority of the content, but struggled to communicate that knowledge through a standardized test.
I also noticed that these tests require a significant amount of mental endurance.
Standardized test taking is a necessary skill, whether we like it or not.
And I realized that I want my kids to master that skill over time so that it works for them – just like I want them to master reading, fractions, and essay writing.
The more I thought about it, I began to remember how standardized tests have impacted my life.
My SAT/ACT scores got me into the college I wanted to get into.
Knowing how to test well helped me CLEP out of a lot of classes and lighten my course load.
My college professors spent 4 years giving me only multiple choice tests in order to prepare me for the NCLEX – the test all Registered Nurses must take to become licensed.
Passing that NCLEX is what got me my dream job!
Your homeschooler will need to take the SAT/ACT one day.
Then they may need to take the GRE, MCAT, LSAT or GMAT to advance to their dream job.
As I said at the beginning, this is a very polarizing topic among the homeschool community, so I just want to be clear.
That is still crazy in my opinion.
Asking a child to go through hours of testing when they are 6 or 7 is the opposite of everything we are trying to do with homeschooling.
****Always check what your state requires for homeschool evaluation
In fact, the standardized test – itself – is the test prep.
Use the test as a reason to talk to your kid about building mental endurance over time, just like a muscle.
Think of it as preparing for the bigger tests down the road, not necessarily the test at the end of the year.
The public school system uses these tests to evaluate teachers, schools, and students.
Homeschoolers should be different.
Use this test to evaluate your curriculum!
Use this test to help you customize your student’s education!
Use this test to expose your kids to the experience of a standardized test…without all the stress that is usually attached to it.
I used to have some pretty strong opinions about standardized testing and homeschooling, but I have definitely changed my mind.
I encourage you to try the testing for yourself and see how different it is in the homeschool setting.
There was so much less stress than I was expecting!
My kid had a great experience, we both learned a lot, and I have my evaluation ready to turn into the school board.
I also began to realize that test taking is a skill I need to nurture (not drill) in my kids.
This is just another way we are making sure every door is kicked open for our homeschoolers.
How about you?
What are your thoughts/experiences about standardized testing and homeschoolers?
Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear it!
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