Standardized testing in our homeschool became very important to us as parents. The testing was not for the kids but for us as parents. We wanted to be sure we were using materials that provided the foundation needed for their future endeavors in college.
Standardized Testing – Start early
This process started in early elementary in the 1st grade. As my husband and I talked about the process of testing, we developed a plan for implementing it into our homeschool schedule. We decided that yearly testing was best for us to be sure we were staying on track and we felt it would show us what areas we may need to concentrate on the following year.
So in the spring of each year, we ordered our tests and they were sent to our test proctor to administer the tests. We chose to use a private test administrator during the elementary years through middle school to do our testing. While we could have administered the tests ourselves, we didn’t want to see the tests. We felt that with four kids if we saw what was on the tests, we may have the urge to try to be sure our kids were prepared for the test by teaching to the test. Teaching to the test is not what we wanted to do. We wanted to be sure our curriculum choice was helping us prepare for the test daily within their regular lessons. So by not giving the test ourselves, we felt better about those test scores because we felt they were more accurate.
Rough Homeschool Years – Do we still test?
We had one year that was a really tough year on our family. We were in a job transition year and attempting to begin a business that failed. Our homeschool was barely hanging on. Thankfully, we were using BJU Press Distance Learning. I love the fact that I always had a faculty at my fingertips.
While my husband and I were dealing with life circumstances, our homeschool was still functioning. Albeit there was very little actual grading going on except what they kids could do on their own. As a mom, this bothered me terribly. I remember being in tears at the end of the year when it was time to order testing. I asked my husband if we really needed to order tests that year. He said yes because we need to see if we were still on track. I was so worried that year. When we got the scores back though, I simply teared up again. They were all four on the high side of average and above, even in that rough year! I needed that year’s test results!
Test results eased worries
That year the test’s results proved more than any year’s results that we were, in fact, using a great curriculum that was definitely preparing our children for their future college endeavors. The best part is that I didn’t have to spend weeks teaching to the test or preparing for the test. My curriculum covered that for me.
We had several rough years through our homeschool journey, but we still did the annual standardized tests every year. The test results helped to give ideas on where to really focus extra time and energy for each child. If you are considering whether to do standardized tests for your children, do them for you, as the parent, to make sure you are offering the materials through your curriculum and implementation of your curriculum choice.
Test Scores – Reading the results
Learning to read the test results correctly is key. I am thankful that my test administrator also took the time to explain those test results so that I could read them accurately in order to adjust our next school year accordingly. I learned that I didn’t have to change my curriculum, but I may need to spend more one-on-one time on a particular subject or concept where they may test a little lower than other areas. Reading and understanding those test scores is key to successfully utilizing the results.
Where did I get my tests?
I recommend the Iowa tests through BJU Press Testing for standardized testing. They do also have the Stanford tests, however, they are older and the questions are just not as up-to-date for the children so the results to me are not up to par for today’s time.
It is easy to order your standardized testing through this link at BJU Press Testing. You first need to decide if you are are going to sign up to do the testing yourself or if you are going to choose another tester to give the tests for you. Then choose a date for the testing before you start your order.
If you feel the need to prepare a little for the tests, there are also some practice tests booklets as well for better test scores. You can find those here called the Better Test Scores.
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Do you do yearly tests with your children?