Sunday, May 1, 2016

Our First Standardized Test

Our state doesn't require annual standardized testing for homeschoolers, but we decided to have the kids take a standardized test (the Iowa Test) anyway for 2 reasons: 1) Practice taking a timed test, because eventually they'll have to take the SATs and other tests 2) See if they are on track academically.  I wasn't really worried that they would do poorly, and I knew their specific weaknesses and strengths so I was prepared for certain areas to be better or worse than others.

The testing itself took place at a fellow homeschooler's home with a group of other students, over 3 separate days, each day being 3-4 hours long. Each subject was given a short time frame (maybe 15-30 each). We don't do timed tests at home (nor any tests really, I do ask them what they know, so if they don't know, we review it, until they can tell me what they know correctly), so this was something new that they needed to adapt to, and they were frustrated that they did run out of time on a few of the tests. One of the benefits of doing these tests is learning test taking strategies too-doing easier questions first, gauging time, etc, so I was glad they had this experience.

We got the test results back last week, and they did way better than I expected! There were no big surprises. The spelling and punctuation was weaker than the rest, but still at grade level, for Monkey, which was not a surprise at all, because these are areas he's always struggled with.

In the report, the test breaks it out by subject, and then also by topic within the subject (e.g. Division by a whole number, Capitalization of Places, Holidays, and Names, etc), with the % they got correct, and the national average for % correct. This was immensely helpful to allow me to know which areas they need work on. So this summer, we're probably going to do some heavy emphasis on spelling and grammar! It also helpful in relieving my anxiety about whether they are at grade level or not, so knowing they are at and even beyond grade level, gives me more freedom to not worry when I want to spend more time doing some non-standard topics like home skills, etiquette, Bible,
computer programming.

Overall, a good experience! I will definitely have them test each year, just to keep a record and keep assessing where we are, and may try different tests in other years.