The question for the blog cruise this week is “Do you use standardized testing in your homeschool?” For me, the answer is yes. I know a lot of people are against testing, but I am not one of them, and the beauty of homeschool is you can do what suits YOU best!
First of all, my children were already familiar with testing since they spent time in school before we started homeschooling. As a teacher, I am well aware of the downfalls of testing, but, I also feel it has some benefits, and I think what tests you use and HOW they are used has a big part to play in that.
In my state, we have a yearly test called the FCAT. This test is a nightmare for teachers and students alike. It is based on Florida “standards” (determined by people in the state gov.) and the scores are used for rewards and punishments for students, schools and teachers. This type of testing causes stress and anxiety, and the results aren’t very useful.
My boys test with our homeschool group every year using the SAT 10. This is a nationally-referenced test, similar to the SAT kids would take in high school, and very similar to the type of tests I took in school as a kid. Testing days themselves aren’t a big deal to my kids, they know they are going to go in for a couple of hours, and bubble in some answers. I do NOT use the tests for grades for my kids, or to reward or punish them for anything. For me, the test scores are more informative than anything.
I believe there are many ways to measure a child’s success, and I think testing is one small part of that. I keep portfolios for my kids, and every year, I look back on them to see the PROGRESS they have made in each subject. I also use my own observations to measure how they are doing. I usually compare their portfolios and my observations against the test scores. Most of the time, weak areas in their testing are the same areas I have identified as weak points already. In this case, the testing is just another way to confirm what I have already seen. If my child did really well in an area where I thought they had shown weakness in their schooling, I would go back through their portfolio and talk with them to try and determine if the score was a fluke, or if maybe they just weren’t putting their all into their schoolwork.
If a test score is low in an area they have shown strength, then I again review their portfolio. If the portfolio and my observations indicate growth in that area, I consider the test score a fluke. One thing I do like about testing is that it gives me a concrete score that I can compare from year to year (my hubby likes this too!). Each year, I expect their score in each area to go up, and I have yet to be disappointed. This helps me to know I am on track. I also like that the test can give me some ideas for things to work on for the next year. For instance, this year, both of my sons scores indicated they were a little weak in the area of earth science, so next year, we are going to study that!!
I don’t think its a bad idea for kids to be familiar with taking tests. Let’s face it, in college and many many jobs these days testing is required. My husband had to take tests to become a firefighter/paramedic. He had to take tests to promote up in rank. My cousin in the military has taken many tests as well…as have I and many of my friends. I don’t want the first time my child sees a test to be when he is in college or is trying for a job. My kids aren’t really bothered by testing because I don’t put a lot of pressure on them about it. I simply tell them to take their time and do their best! To see what other members of the crew had to say about testing in their homeschools, click here: