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Can someone give me a summary of testing pros/cons?


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I'm familiar with all the college entrance stuff, etc, but I know nothing about testing in the early years. My state doesn't require it - I think (Missouri).

 

- Should I be having my daughter tested?

- How often?

- Which test? (How many testing options are there?)

- Where do I go to do this?

- How much does it cost?

- Any warnings?

 

Any other thoughts?

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I do think it is a good idea to test with some kind of group if you are able. A friend tested her 9th grade son with the ACT and is using that as our state's required standardized test. I think that's the one you can take over and over, and just choose the best score to send to your college of choice.

 

I have administered the Stanford achievement test for several years now, and have administered it to high schoolers for two years. This year I looked at the content of the tests and I was interested to find that it is a content-based test (like the ACT) instead of an aptitude test like the SAT. The high schoolers I tested were pretty stressed that there were things on the test they had never seen before. In math, for example, the questions rely heavily on statistics, especially in the 9th grade year. So if you are not using Saxon and your kid is doing Algebra or Geometry, chances are he has never done statistics at all, or has done it such a long time ago that the questions are foreign.

 

I probably won't use the Stanford anymore past about 8th grade. I objected to the ACT in 9th grade because I thought it might be too discouraging, since it tests material that should have been covered in all the high school years (according to the ACT standards, anyway!), but I don't think the ACT would be any more discouraging than the Stanford was.

 

I really like the Stanford for the younger years, and I really like the classroom testing experience. In the classroom situations that I've been a part of there really is no testing anxiety. There are liberal breaks between tests and ample opportunity to run around between tests and play, so my kids actually look forward to group testing each year. I think this is a positive thing, to get a teen in the frame of mind that yes, the questions will be hard, but it's a good kind of hard, and not something to worry about.

 

The Stanford is also a little different than the SAT in that it isn't timed, and your strategy for answering questions is different. For the SAT, I've heard, if you leave an answer blank it doesn't count against you, but it doesn't count positively, either (I'm still learning about SAT, so correct me if I'm wrong). The Stanford, OTOH, marks you wrong if the answer is left blank so educated guessing is worth a shot. Stanford testing might be confusing to a teen who has been doing any kind of SAT prep.

 

My kids tested with the IOWA one year. It's very similar to the Stanford. If we had group IOWA testing these past few years I would have participated in those.

 

CAT testing is a little easier. Our state requires testing each year but I don't put too much stock in the results. If we didn't have group testing options, I would choose the CAT and do it at home myself. I don't think I'd bother with the IOWA at home. It's more expensive and it doesn't tell me anything that I don't already know about my kids' abilities.

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- Should I be having my daughter tested?

- How often?

- Which test? (How many testing options are there?)

- Where do I go to do this?

- How much does it cost?

- Any warnings?

 

 

If it is not required for your state, only you can decide if you should have your daughter tested.

 

We test once per year as required for our state. If it wasn't required, I would still test each year. I like the outside year to year verification that we are on target academically.

 

We have used the PASS test and are now using the ITBS. I think the ITBS is a fairly good test for the kind of test it is. As I have administered the tests myself, I have seen the actual tests.

 

I administered the tests myself to my 11 yo up until this year. This year he took the Iowa with our local homeschool group. You can obtain the PASS test from Hewitt Homeschooling. You can get the Iowa a few places, I've been getting it from BJU. You need certain qualifications to administer the Iowa.

 

It costs around $40.

 

Don't take the results too seriously, either way (good or bad). Administering the test yourself helps with this because you can see the exact questions they missed. You can also see how easy or difficult it was for them to do the various sections of the test. These are things you wouldn't see if they were to take the test elsewhere. However, if they take the test in a group then they get experience (valuable experience IMO) taking a standardized test in a group.

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Last year I used Thurber Educational Assessments; this year I'm using Bayside School Services. I do the proctoring. It's pretty easy, but you're running out of time if you want to do it for this school year. I think Bayside does it year round, but they cost more than Thurber.

 

You can also go through Bob Jones, but I can't remember their requirements. Also, check with a local homeschool co-op and see if they can fit you in. They may have already ordered their materials or completed their testing. The one nearest me does the Stanford Achievement Test. Some parents opt for the ITBS.

 

If you have more questions, try searching on the curriculum board for "standardized testing" or the name of the test you want.

 

HTH.

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I tested my kids when they were in elementary school and used the California Achievement Test.

 

Although the test was timed, I did not time the kids. All I wanted to know was what their strengths and weaknesses were in each subject area for my own benefit.

 

There were no surprises, but it confirmed what I thought I knew.

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What would you do with the results? That was the deciding factor for us.

 

We are not required here (MI), but I considered it for my older just to see where she'd be relative to age-peers. Thinking more, I realized the results, whatever they may be, wouldn't change anything. They wouldn't affect my planning, because I already just move to the next level when she finishes the last; they wouldn't affect her placement if we were to send her to outschool, because the school would decide where they want her (which may vary in your district). I see her every day, and know where she is in each subject, so there wouldn't be any new information that I could use. I'd rather put the $ toward more books instead of a test.

 

You can find lots of free tests online for various purposes, if you just want a confirmation of her level in whatever subject. My 5yo has enjoyed the reading tests in the Weekly Reader teachers' guide (available online, 1st & 2nd grade only, about 3x a year), so I let her do them as a game more than anything: I print out one I know she can do well on, and she likes finding out what level she beat this time.

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What would you do with the results? That was the deciding factor for us.

 

We are not required here (MI), but I considered it for my older just to see where she'd be relative to age-peers. Thinking more, I realized the results, whatever they may be, wouldn't change anything. They wouldn't affect my planning, because I already just move to the next level when she finishes the last; they wouldn't affect her placement if we were to send her to outschool, because the school would decide where they want her (which may vary in your district). I see her every day, and know where she is in each subject, so there wouldn't be any new information that I could use. I'd rather put the $ toward more books instead of a test.

 

 

That was my reasoning as well. Our umbrella school strongly recommends it, but I don't see a point in putting a wiggly five year old through several days of testing. I know where she's at and what she needs to work on.

 

I will do the testing in later years - maybe around second grade or so, depending on when she reaches that academic level. But not now.

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