To Test or Not To Test, That is the Question

Homeschool testing is a hot debate. I was at a local chapter meeting tonight for a professional organization I belong to. There were many people there I didn’t know, and as it normally does in new conversations, the topic turned to kids, and eventually to the fact that I homeschool. One of my new acquaintances was a former teacher, and was aghast when I told her that our state doesn’t require any testing for homeschoolers.

Can you guess what her next question was???? Yep, you’re right. “But HOW do you know what they’re learning if you don’t TEST them?”

I calmly informed her that since I was involved in their learning everyday and that there are only 2 of them instead of 30 I was always aware of how and what they are learning. (Then I moved on to another topic before things got too prickly).

This whole concept of testing comes up frequently in homeschool circles – especially that first year when you are trying to fight the instinct to replicate public school at home. Our state’s standardized test is hated by every parent that I meet, yet most are quick to turn right around and ask me why I don’t have my kids take it. Our local schools put an extreme amount of emphasis on this test and devote the majority of their teaching to it. I feel very fortunate to not have to be under its rule.

Every family has to decide whether or not testing of any kind will be a part of their homeschool. In our homeschool, we do have tests. I give them spelling or vocabulary tests on Fridays, and their math books have a test about every 5 lessons. We work on mastery, so if they don’t score well on these tests they do the lessons over.

We also participate in standardized testing once a year with our local homeschool organization. Our group uses the ITBS. This year my oldest will participate in SAT testing through Duke TIP as well.

I test them for a few simple reasons. 1. One of my educational goals is college preparedness, and in college you have to take lots of exams. I don’t want that to be their first experience trying to study. 2. We do the annual standardized test so that they have lots of practice taking this kind of exam. Scholarships are based on test scores, and I feel like the more opportunity they have to be exposed to standardized tests, the less test anxiety they will have in high school when they really count. As a bonus, I can use these test scores as our annual evaluation for the state, so it’s an easy way to make sure our requirements are met.

When you’re deciding on testing, reflect back on your homeschool goals. As with all other education decisions, your goals will help guide you to the right decision for your family. 🙂