Homeschool Standardized Test Options

♥ TruthAs one of the fastest growing methods of education, options available for homeschoolers are growing accordingly. Over the years, the availability of different types of standardized tests has made testing our homeschool children much easier.

Getting Started with Standardized Testing

Standardized Test requirements by state is the first place you should look. It’s vital that you know and understand what your state requires from you as a homeschooler. Once you’ve determined if your state requires you to administer a standardized test to your children, you can move ahead with complying.

Which Standardized Test is Best

While there are many different tests available as options. There are a few that stand out simply because they are tried and true. A few of those are:

The Stanford 10 – We’ve used this test for many years. It’s a good option and one that can be given easily with a group of students. Typically this is a group administered test, however there are 3rd parties who allow for you to purchase this test from them and administer at home.

The Wechsler Individual Achievement Test – This is a great test that I’ve used many times. This test cannot be administered by a parent, it requires that a professional with necessary qualifications administer the test. This test is great for students who have learning disabilities such as dyslexia. The proctor can account for those differences in each situation.

The Iowa Test of Basic Skills – another “oldy but goody”… I took this test as a young child. Though updated several times since then, this test is definitely a good example. This test is also typically group administered, but is available through many different 3rd party test providers.

The OLSAT and CogAT tests test School Ability Index or what used to be known as Intelligence Quotia or IQ.

Where’s a Good Place to Take the Test

While some people have begun to take their standardized tests online, I do prefer tests of this type to be done in person. However, ease of use makes the online option very desirable for most homeschoolers. You can usually take standardized tests with your local homeschool co-op. There are also 3rd party testing centers where you can test.

Which Tests Should We Take

There are two types of standardized tests that are most commonly given to school aged children. These consist of achievement tests, and ability tests (IQ). Achievement tests test what the child has been able to achieve or learn over the course of the year.   If you test every year, you don’t need to test IQ (School Ability Index-SAI) each year. The SAI tests a child’s innate ability to learn. Most often when taken together the tests compare the child’s abilities to what they are actually achieving… letting us as parents know if they are really applying themselves.  The School Ability Index doesn’t change dramatically over a year. I would suggest that the SAI test be given once every 3 years. In our state of GA, testing is only required once every 3 years. So, when we do test – I usually do a combo test. This year we will be using the Stanford10/OLSAT for the last time. The Stanford will be retiring after this year.

Should we take different tests for different grade Levels?

Whether your child is using elementary homeschool curriculum or high school you can use the same “brand” of test. In fact, I would suggest sticking with that brand of test as you school your children. It’s not a huge concern, but each test is a little different and staying with one style of test will help you compare their achievement more acurately.

Standardized Testing…

Standardized testing can be a very controversial topic within the homeschooling community. Some look at the homeschool standardized testing as a way to see where our children are at… others view the tests as intrusive and simply a means to impinge on our privacy.

As a previous teacher, I do take the standpoint of using these tests as a means of determining where my children are. I enjoy seeing if they are at or above their “typical” grade level… which most of the time they are above grade level… to me it is a way to do a little “victory dance.” I can see that my goals and objectives are being met, and my children are exceeding the states’ expectations.

If you are interested in getting your child tested there are plenty of options. You can contact your local school to see if they allow homeschoolers to test with their students, you can contact a local private school (these tend to be more accomodating to homeschoolers and charge a reasonable fee), or you can locate a private testing agency. Whichever route you choose, please realize that this is simply a single test, and not an all inclusive indicator of your child’s learning. Simply use it as a single tool. One that can help the parents see what they need to be doing, and one that can help the student see how they can improve.

Homeschool Report Card – 5 things to know about SATs

Everything needs checks and balances… accountability is a good thing…

I know in my own life I tend to do a better job, and put more effort into something if I know that I must be accountable for it.  Though state testing requirements vary, many homeschooling students across the country are requried to participate in standardized testing. States require this testing to ensure that students are learning and progress is being made.

1) Standardized tests are for the measurement of a child’s achievement. These tests do not measure students ability or aptitude, that is measured on a separate test (such as the Otis Lennon). Aptitude tests measure the school ability index or what used to be called IQ.

2) Most standardized tests assess only language arts and math. But, prior to having your child tested ask the administrator of the test what subtests are included and then make preparations for SAT study courses, or by purchasing prep books.

3) These tests are called stadardized because the test was taken by a sample set of students who took the test at the same time of year. The test makers take this sample group’s average score and allow it to represent the 50th percentile.

4) Using the same test from year to year for your child’s assessment will ensure a more acurate comparison of norms.

5) The student’s typically do just fine with taking the test, it’s the parents we often worry about!  So, take it easy, mom and dad.  Remember, that this is just one test and is not the “big picture” of your child’s learning. An accurate picture of how your child is achieving will include what they are learning in school, what they are learning at home, and how they do on SATs.

Other related posts:

Homeschooling in the South

Part 3 – Testing Series

Part 1 – How do you like your percentile?