Standardized testing is a hot topic in homeschooling circles these days. Whether you're for it or against it, you really need to know the ins and outs of the testing requirements for your state.
Some states are very relaxed and do not require administration of standardized testing in homeschools while others are more rigid and not only require testing, but require the test to be administered at a testing center or by a certified teacher.
Be familiar with your state's homeschool laws regarding standardized testing.
- Is a standardized test required?
- At what age must you begin administering standardized tests and how often?
- Is there a particular test that must be administered?
- Who can administer the test?
- Is there a deadline by which the test must be given?
- For more information regarding state specific homeschooling laws, visit HSLDA's website.
Be familiar with the different standardized testing options available.
Some common tests administered to homeschoolers include:
- Basic Achievement Skills Inventory (BASI)– grades 3-12. Can be administered by a parent. Areas tested include: vocabulary, spelling, language mechanics, reading comprehension, math computation, math application.
- California Achievement Test (CAT)– grades k-12. Can be administered by a parent (no Bachelor's Degree required). Areas tested include: vocabulary, comprehension, language mechanics, language expression, math computation, math application.
- Iowa Test of Basic Skills– grades K-12. Can be administered by a parent who holds a Bachelor's Degree. Areas tested include: language, math, science and social studies.
- Terra Nova Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills- grades K-12. Can be administered by a parent. No degree required. Areas tested include: language, math, science and social studies.
- Stanford Achievement Test– grades K-12. Test may be administered by a parent, but the parent must be a pre-approved test administrator, or you can search for an approved test administrator in your area. Areas tested include: language, reading, spelling, math, science, social studies and listening skills.
- PASS Test– grades 3-8. Test is designed specifically for homeschoolers. May be administered by a parent. No degree required. The test is untimed and relaxed. This test is probably the best choice for kinesthetic learners. Areas tested include: reading, language and math.
- Wide Range Achievement Test– grades K-12. This test claims to be very short (can be administered in as little as 15 minutes), but accurate and is great for students with attention deficits. The research I have done indicates that this test must be administered by a professional who has at least a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology or a related field. If I'm wrong, someone please correct me!
- Woodcock Johnson Test– grades K-12. Must be administered by trained test administrator. Tests are given on an individual basis in a one-on-one setting. Immediate scoring. Areas tested include: language, math, spelling and reading.
There are multiple vendors/testing services from which you may order your tests, but please familiarize yourself with their policies regarding scoring and returning of materials.
Before the day of testing:
- Read through the testing instructions. Know the layout of the test and administration requirements (timing, filling out answer sheets, etc.)
- Set a date for testing. Which day/s of the work would work best for your family?
- Let family and friends know your testing date in order to keep distractions to a minimum.
On the day of standardized testing in your homeschool:
- Make sure your child gets a good night's rest prior to testing.
- Eat a good breakfast.
- Stay calm and relaxed. There is no reason to be anxious.
- Read your child. Is he/she stressed or anxious. Assure him/her that there is no reason to worry.
- Pray with your child prior to testing.
- Provide a quiet, calm testing environment.
When you receive results of your child's testing:
- Decide if you will share the results with your child. Some parents, especially those of younger children, choose not to disclose the results.
- Look at the results objectively and decide what if any changes you wish to make in your homeschool.
- Above all else, remember that homeschooling is so much more than a score on a test. While testing is important to some parents and in some states, if it is the most important aspect in determining if I'm successful in homeschooling my child, then ultimately, I've failed. Raising a godly child with high morals who loves the Lord will trump a test score any day of the week.