Homeschool Testing

When we began homeschooling, my husband and I agreed that my son would undergo homeschool testing every year to make sure he was on par with his peers.

Standardized tests can help homeschoolers identify areas of weakness in their home schools. In some instances, homeschool testing is required by state homeschooling law.

Homeschool parents can have their children tested through local homeschool support groups or umbrella schools. If you are a college graduate or certified teacher, you may be able to administer standardized tests on your own through Bob Jones University's BJU Press Testing and Evaluation Services.

I thankfully live in a state where testing is not required. So while I may test my son so he can gain test-taking experience, I now realize standardized tests are not accurate measures of my goals for my child for several reasons:

  1. Tests assume every child should learn the same material at the same time. Some babies walk as early as 8 months, and some as late as 18 months. Children also learn to read, write and calculate at different ages.

  2. Valuable teaching time that could be used for reading aloud, music, art, science and exploration is spent on test preparation. Emphasis on test drills leaves students with little time to pursue their goals and interests.

  3. Trick questions, poorly written questions and test errors decrease the test's effectiveness as an accurate measure of a child's ability.

  4. Emphasis on testing, especially the high stakes tests that must be passed to advance grade levels, places undo burden on and produces anxiety in children.

  5. Homeschool testing reduces children to numbers, ignoring the whole child. Tests don't measure creativity, personality, hard work, athletic ability, and musical talent - all of which can be more crucial to success than the ability to fill in bubbles on an answer sheet.

  6. When's the last time you answered a reading comprehension question? When's the last time you wrote a five-paragraph essay or calculated the circumference of a circle? Reading, writing and arithmetic are valuable skills, but tests remove these activities from the context of real life.

  7. Tests reduce an entire year of learning to a single exam. A child who has worked hard and shown improvement during the school year should not be penalized for lack of test taking skills.

  8. High scores on standardized test typically reflect high family income. They also reflect more classroom time spent teaching to the test and less time spent on real learning.

  9. Testing is part of a money making industry that creates, prepares, prints and scores tests, and reports their results - all at our students' expense.

  10. Tests ignore true problems that plague traditional schools. These problems will extend to homeschooling if we consent to more government control.

Preparing for Standardized Tests

Relax! According to these homeschooling statistics, homeschoolers tend to outscore both public and private school students on standardized tests.

If your state requires homeschool testing, choose your normal curriculum and add on a simple test preparation program. Don't make your school revolve around testing - that time is better spent on true learning.

Here are some additional test taking tips.

If you are in a state that does not require testing, advocate for children in your state who are subject to standardized tests, and be alert for politicians who want to bring high stakes testing to a homeschool near you!

For more information on the negative effects of standardized tests, read Susan Ohanian's, What Happened to Recess and Why Are Our Children Struggling in Kindergarten?

In the words of John Holt,

"What is this test nonsense, anyway? Do people go through life taking math tests, with other people telling them to hurry? Are we trying to turn out intelligent people, or test takers?"

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