Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Homeschool testing

Our yearly testing is done, in the envelope and ready to be mailed back to be scored! Whew! In our state we need to test once per year. This year I ordered the tests as soon as the catalog came because last year I put it off until July and we were sitting here trying to get these test done when we would have rather been outside.
In our state, by law, we need to test once per year. We can use what ever test we want from the national tests. We choose the Iowa Test because it seemed the most convenient route when Dancer had to start testing in 2nd grade. Since she started with the Iowa test we kept on with it so that we can at least compare from year to year how she scores nationally.
I absolutely hate these tests for several reasons. For one, they are expensive. Spark has to start testing this year too so we buy two tests. The two of them were almost $90. That money would have been so much better spent on other homeschooling curriculum. Some families I know this year who use the same test are having to test each of their kids at different times because they can only afford to buy one test at a time.
I also find them a huge waste of time. Each one takes about five hours to administer. Since much of the 2nd grade test is read to the student they couldn't really test at the same time. I can't expect Dancer to concentrate when reading questions aloud to Spark. This time could be so much better spent actually learning something instead of filling these tests in.
When the tests come back they tell us how many they got right and wrong in each area and how their scores stack up to other their age and grade level. Dancer has always scored way above grade level and often in the 99th percentile. This is irrelevant for a couple of reasons. My kids have a one on one tutor, I would hope they do better than kids who are sitting in class room with 20 - 30 kids in them. Secondly, it compares them to school kids who are taught to the test. The results would be much more meaningful if it compared them to other homeschool kids who use the same curriculum that we do. I would assume that would be impossible because there is probably no other homeschooled kids who use the exact same combination of curriculum that we do. So I find it comparing apples to oranges.
Here is the real kicker with these tests. We don't have to report the scores to anyone. Not that I am complaining, I certainly don't want the school involved in our homeschool anymore than necessary. Good grief, I have to pay for, take the time to administer, and get results back on tests that really don't mean much to us. I know how well my kids are progressing for them, I sit next to them every day. This homeschooling law must have seemed logical to someone at the state government that they made it in the first place. I wonder if they don't want to know the results because then they would have to admit that homeschooling is a much more effective way of educating our children.

1 comment:

kat said...

A cheaper test is the CAT available from Seton Home Study School for $25 per child. We test every year just for testing practice, but we are not required to do so by our state.
I agree that it seems pointless, especially the scoring system in which they get 86% and answer all the questions correctly.