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Considering ps after poor results on standardized tests


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My third grade twins took their first standardized test, as required by Georgia. It was the first time they've ever taken a standardized test, and they didn't do well at all. One scored 20th percentile and the other 31st percentile compared to the national results. My dh and I are very concerned about this, and are considering sending them to ps.

I'm just not sure why they aren't doing better. I am very conscientious about doing school every day. We plug away, and slow down if needed, but covered everything I had planned this year. I have definitely seen improvement in all areas -- reading, math, grammar, etc. I know they missed some questions that they should have gotten right, and missed some questions just because we haven't covered some of the material on the test. I never thought they would get really high scores, but I thought they would be somewhere in the middle, not near the bottom. I don't think they always try as hard as they could, and they don't always pay attention, but they do their work and are progressing. They are not auditory learners at all, but can read well. Their highest scores were on Reading. I honestly don’t think they have any kind of learning disability.

I wonder if they might do better in ps because they might feel the need to do better because of the competition and pressure in ps. With such low scores, my dh feels like they couldn't do much worse. I just don't know, and am feeling very discouraged.

Anybody have any experience where their kids have done better in ps? Or any experience with their kids doing poorly on a standardized test, but significantly improving as they got older? I don’t want to put a lot of emphasis on test taking, but these poor scores are really concerning me, and my dh is really thinking that we should send them to ps.

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My public school 2nd grader has been "test prepping" heavily for the last two years, and even in K they were doing "fill in the bubble" stuff! She won't take the FCAT until next year - but they have had other testing this year.

 

If you didn't do test prep then really don't worry. Give it another year before you panic. If you did do test prep - how did they do on that?

 

What areas were they low in? What were their strengths? HOw do you feel about your curriculum choices? Are you planning to "buy the next level" next year, or switching because you didn't think it worked great?

 

(also, the font you picked it really really tiny - I had to enlarge my screen even with my reading glasses on to see it!)

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I agree with test prep. If they skipped just one question, they could have answered on the wrong row of bubbles for the remainder of a section. There are free standardized released tests online. Why don't you print some off and do some more testing on your own this summer? You could grade it yourself to see how they did. I definitely wouldn't give up right away. Here are some links.

 

http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sr/css05rtq.asp

 

http://fcat.fldoe.org/fcatrelease.asp

 

http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/taks/released-tests/archive/

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How do they do on an ongoing daily basis with their regular work? Do you think they are understanding it and are retaining it? Do you give any tests? If so, how do they score?

 

If it were "me", I wouldn't react so quickly and shove them into school. You need to figure out "why" the scores were low.

 

Maybe they are just poor test takers. Do you think it was because they don't have experience in how to take a test? Because, there are some strategies you can learn, such as move on if you don't know the answer, check your answers, make sure you are on the right line when you answer, etc.

 

If you did NOT think they made progress this year, that would be a problem more than low test scores. Do you honestly think that they need competition to improve? This could be valid, but you want to be comfortable that it is the issue, and not something else. Kids that need competition can still be successfully homeschooled. You just need to incorporate that into their work. Have them "compete" against themselves and prior scores. You don't need another kid to create competition.

 

You could try doing some practice standardized test to show them some skills, then have them retested. (For example, Family Learning Organization offers standardized tests you can do at home.)

 

Take an honest look at the material they could do at the beginning of the year and compare it to the end of the year. If you see improvement, then you are probably o.k.

 

Also, one thing you have to remember when you homeschool, as hard as it is, is that your kids aren't "standard". They learn differently, at different rates, at different times, and have interests in different things. You need to focus on the fact that they are making progress. Many schools teach to the tests, so don't be concerned about comparing your kids to other kids who may be able to take a test, but don't "really know" anything.

 

Finally, speaking as someone who has 5 kids and a wide range of abilities, some kids are just slower learners. If this were the case with your kids (and I am not saying that it is) you would NOT want to put your kids in school! This would cause so much harm that might not be able to be fixed. They would know very soon that they are "one of the slow kids" and this could cause a whole handful of problems.

 

I think you should spend the summer evaluating what the problems were, try retesting, and figure out where to go from there. Remember, if you do decide to put them in ps, you can always do that at any point in the year.

 

Good luck. I hope you can find comfort in your decision.

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We didn't do any test prepping, but the bubbles weren't an issue. I had them circle the answers on the tests, and made sure the bubbles were filled in correctly based on their circled answers. Thanks for the idea to do some sample tests this summer. That might help me know if it's just a test taking issue. Sorry about the small font. I typed my question up on Word, and didn't realize it was so small when I copied it to my post.

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We didn't do any test prepping, but the bubbles weren't an issue. I had them circle the answers on the tests, and made sure the bubbles were filled in correctly based on their circled answers. Thanks for the idea to do some sample tests this summer. That might help me know if it's just a test taking issue. Sorry about the small font. I typed my question up on Word, and didn't realize it was so small when I copied it to my post.

Much bigger on the old eyes! (and, yours was bigger than the ISBN number I just had read off a book to enter for school - ye gads!) Thanks!!

 

If you didn't do prep with them, about how to take the test and about the odd questions they might ask - then really do not sweat it. Did you read the questions as you checked their answers? Could the wording have thrown them on some they missed?

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What test did you use? In some tests you need to have taught exactly what they are testing, i.e. history or science.

We took the PASS test. It doesn't have history or social studies on it, so that wasn't an issue. They did average in Reading, and below average in Math and Language.

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Your question about competition\pressure to work and do well is one we have talked about here. Perhaps my perceptions are wrong, but I suspect at least some homeschoolers would discount this as a real or helpful phenomenon in PS. I've had kids in elementary and high school, and I think these are bigger factors for most children when they are older. It does depend on the child though. IMO, it is possible for some children to do better academically in a school setting. And having a peer group of good kids is important to us, particularly for our older kids. In the end, only you really have a good understanding of your children's academic strengths and weaknesses and whether they would thrive in a school setting. If they start in PS in the fall, and you take them out after a month, nothing is lost.

 

However, I do agree with some of the other posters that tests of this kind are to a great extent looking at skills and knowledge that are prepped and reviewed a LOT in the classroom. IMO they are not really great indicators of learning. That said, I did a test with my youngest, who has never been in school, when he was in third grade, and was also discouraged. He retook it this year, at the end of sixth, and did much better! I also discovered he did not understand the directions and made it much harder for himself until we clarified that.

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How do they do on an ongoing daily basis with their regular work? Do you think they are understanding it and are retaining it? Do you give any tests? If so, how do they score?

 

If it were "me", I wouldn't react so quickly and shove them into school. You need to figure out "why" the scores were low.

 

Maybe they are just poor test takers. Do you think it was because they don't have experience in how to take a test? Because, there are some strategies you can learn, such as move on if you don't know the answer, check your answers, make sure you are on the right line when you answer, etc.

 

If you did NOT think they made progress this year, that would be a problem more than low test scores. Do you honestly think that they need competition to improve? This could be valid, but you want to be comfortable that it is the issue, and not something else. Kids that need competition can still be successfully homeschooled. You just need to incorporate that into their work. Have them "compete" against themselves and prior scores. You don't need another kid to create competition.

 

You could try doing some practice standardized test to show them some skills, then have them retested. (For example, Family Learning Organization offers standardized tests you can do at home.)

 

Take an honest look at the material they could do at the beginning of the year and compare it to the end of the year. If you see improvement, then you are probably o.k.

 

Also, one thing you have to remember when you homeschool, as hard as it is, is that your kids aren't "standard". They learn differently, at different rates, at different times, and have interests in different things. You need to focus on the fact that they are making progress. Many schools teach to the tests, so don't be concerned about comparing your kids to other kids who may be able to take a test, but don't "really know" anything.

 

Finally, speaking as someone who has 5 kids and a wide range of abilities, some kids are just slower learners. If this were the case with your kids (and I am not saying that it is) you would NOT want to put your kids in school! This would cause so much harm that might not be able to be fixed. They would know very soon that they are "one of the slow kids" and this could cause a whole handful of problems.

 

I think you should spend the summer evaluating what the problems were, try retesting, and figure out where to go from there. Remember, if you do decide to put them in ps, you can always do that at any point in the year.

 

Good luck. I hope you can find comfort in your decision.

Thanks for your post. You had some good thoughts that I will consider. We don't do any testing except in Math. They are all over the place in these weekly tests --anywhere from 70% to 100%. We go over it again before we move on if the results are low. Many times it's just careless errors. They both learn slowly and require repetition, but are learning and retaining. I'm going to think about just practicing some tests and look for improvement this summer.

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We lived in GA (no longer live there) and were subject to their requirements as well. If I recall correctly, they have to test every three years, is that still the case? I agree with the others about test prep, and I would also suggest something else in that area. You can give them annual tests yourself (in between the GA required testing) to help ease your mind, and to see if they are improving. I am planning on testing my dd this year because I want her to be familiar with test taking, not because it is required where we are. Christian Liberty Press offers both paper and online testing for a reasonable cost.

 

Another thing I want to point out is that you are using MUS which is a mastery based program and does not cover things in the same order as ps, and that may be a reason why they did not score so well on the math portion of the test. If you are staying in Georgia, you may want to consider supplementing with a light spiral program to help cover all of those bases before the next required test time.

 

I see that IXL.com and Time for Learning offers PASS test prep. They are specifically for SC, but I assume it is a similar test.

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SO you said they were low in Math - do you know if it was computational mistakes?

 

I see you are using MUS Beta - so scope and sequence wise they can be behind in that until the next book. I would not stress over the math because of that. But someone with more knowledge of your test can help there too.

 

But, test prep would have been huge in the PS this year - it is actually one of the reasons I really want DD home next year. She had a dismal 2nd grade year with a first year teacher - I'd like to ensure she is on a better footing for 4th.

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Julie, a few things. One, I'm with you that it's always good to do the tests and face them honestly. However that DOESN'T mean you've been doing a bad job. A few things to think through.

 

-MUS. You're doing beta. I haven't used MUS, but isn't that their 2nd grade offering? And you're doing a non-standard progression. That's to be expected that they wouldn't do well on a test that is covering things they've never done. BJU is an example of a strong, grade-leveled text. I'm not saying you should change, but I am pointing out that if you look at BJU, something that's written to cover what you need for the tests, they're covering things very differently from the way MUS is. MUS is hopefully going to pan out IN THE END, but you wouldn't expect it to pan out now. That's just reality and the choice you made.

 

-Language. You have breakdowns there? That's spelling or grammar or usage or ?? Find out what it is so you can target things. Everybody has a weak spot. You're doing a lot of things that are gravy and bonus (chemistry, logic, typing, geography, wordly wise, blah blah). When scores are like this, you ditch all that stuff and you focus. Or you use those things only as you find ways to integrate your basic skills into them. That's the heart of WTM, that focus on the basics. WTM is telling you to do what your gut and those test scores are saying needs to be done, nail the basics. So I would either trim a lot of that stuff or use it better.

 

-Did you actually DO the stuff in your sig?? I mean seriously, how can they do all the writing for SWI A (which my dd sure wasn't doing at age 8) and not do better in punctuation?? That just doesn't make sense. This is a good time to back up and ask the why question. NOT the am I defective and should I send them to school question. You need to know if there's a WHY. On the one hand, you're saying nothing is wrong, and on the other you're saying they're slow and sometimes need more repetition than you expect. So I'll ask a question. Your sig says 8. It's June already. Are they young for their grades? Were they premie? Is this your big signal that maybe some evals are in order? Maybe some attention or other issues? Maybe a grade level adjustment? It's just things to consider.

 

The answer is NOT just to assume you're doing a bad job. NO ONE is more committed to their success than you are, and the best way for scores not to go up is to put them in a situation where they fall through the cracks. If you've been working diligently and things aren't computing, the answer is to find out WHY. You were committed enough to their success that you started this, so follow through. Find out why you're seeing problems. Don't just give up. :)

 

PS. 4th grade is the most common time for evals. It's when everything hits the fan and kids can't hide their weaknesses anymore. Vision problems, learning and attention problems, this is the age when it comes out.

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Julie, a few things. One, I'm with you that it's always good to do the tests and face them honestly. However that DOESN'T mean you've been doing a bad job. A few things to think through.

 

-MUS. You're doing beta. I haven't used MUS, but isn't that their 2nd grade offering? And you're doing a non-standard progression. That's to be expected that they wouldn't do well on a test that is covering things they've never done. BJU is an example of a strong, grade-leveled text. I'm not saying you should change, but I am pointing out that if you look at BJU, something that's written to cover what you need for the tests, they're covering things very differently from the way MUS is. MUS is hopefully going to pan out IN THE END, but you wouldn't expect it to pan out now. That's just reality and the choice you made.

 

-Language. You have breakdowns there? That's spelling or grammar or usage or ?? Find out what it is so you can target things. Everybody has a weak spot. You're doing a lot of things that are gravy and bonus (chemistry, logic, typing, geography, wordly wise, blah blah). When scores are like this, you ditch all that stuff and you focus. Or you use those things only as you find ways to integrate your basic skills into them. That's the heart of WTM, that focus on the basics. WTM is telling you to do what your gut and those test scores are saying needs to be done, nail the basics. So I would either trim a lot of that stuff or use it better.

 

-Did you actually DO the stuff in your sig?? I mean seriously, how can they do all the writing for SWI A (which my dd sure wasn't doing at age 8) and not do better in punctuation?? That just doesn't make sense. This is a good time to back up and ask the why question. NOT the am I defective and should I send them to school question. You need to know if there's a WHY. On the one hand, you're saying nothing is wrong, and on the other you're saying they're slow and sometimes need more repetition than you expect. So I'll ask a question. Your sig says 8. It's June already. Are they young for their grades? Were they premie? Is this your big signal that maybe some evals are in order? Maybe some attention or other issues? Maybe a grade level adjustment? It's just things to consider.

 

The answer is NOT just to assume you're doing a bad job. NO ONE is more committed to their success than you are, and the best way for scores not to go up is to put them in a situation where they fall through the cracks. If you've been working diligently and things aren't computing, the answer is to find out WHY. You were committed enough to their success that you started this, so follow through. Find out why you're seeing problems. Don't just give up. :)

 

PS. 4th grade is the most common time for evals. It's when everything hits the fan and kids can't hide their weaknesses anymore. Vision problems, learning and attention problems, this is the age when it comes out.

I do need to update my sig -- we finished MUS Beta, and did about two-thirds of Gamma, so we are well into doing double digit multiplication with regrouping. We started IEW, and because they were struggling decided to hold off until 4th grade. We didn't do a formal writing program, but I had them write at least one paragraph a week, which I helped them edit. You make a good point about focusing just on the basics. Yes, they were premies, and are on the young side for 3rd grade. You have a lot of good questions I'll consider.

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I hope you know I'm not trying to say you are doing a bad job. I'm actually pro evals and would do them in your case. You can actually have the ps do them if you want. It's just people think I suggest evals too much. :D Really though, that's what I'd be doing in your shoes. Knowledge is power. :)

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I think it might be a good time to reevaluate what you are doing but not necessarily throw out the baby with the bath water. While the test results are not what you hoped for, I think the fact that they were not prepped might have something to do with it. You do not need to start heavy test prep but you do need to go over how to take a test, bubble in, tun the page and go on etc.

The first time I gave my dd a placement test, she bombed it badly. I was so mad, I told my Dh, I can't continue homeschooling her but it was really my fault. I had not prepped her adequately so she did not take it seriously at all.

If you are able to get the breakdown of the test scores, you can use that to evaluate what areas you need to work on. This is one of the reasons why I test my kids every other year. One to get them familiar with taking a test and also to know which area they need work on.

I don't think you should give up homeschooling but you might just need to reevaluate and reassess what needs to be done going forward. All the best :grouphug:

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I hope you know I'm not trying to say you are doing a bad job. I'm actually pro evals and would do them in your case. You can actually have the ps do them if you want. It's just people think I suggest evals too much. :D Really though, that's what I'd be doing in your shoes. Knowledge is power. :)

 

I haven't considered this -- are you saying that schools will do evals even if they aren't enrolled? Or would I probably have to get them enrolled in ps to have any evals done? I've never looked into this, so have no idea how it works.

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My kids (youngest three) all took their first standardized test at the end of 3rd grade. Low scores. When they took their next required test in 5th grade their scores improved significantly. I was always relieved. :)

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Bingo, yes! Come to the LC/SN board and chat! We don't bite over there, hehe. I haven't done evals through the ps (we did ours privately), but YES you can do them through the ps. It's the LAW. What you get and how helpful they are will vary. Nope, you don't have to enroll. If you have a super terrific district, you'll get a full eval and maybe even an OT eval if needed. They may or may not give you time with the psych for him to explain to you the results. But they'll at least do all the basic stuff. Definitely pursue it, either through the ps or privately. And come to the LC/SN board and chat with the ladies. :)

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My third grade twins took their first standardized test, as required by Georgia. It was the first time they've ever taken a standardized test, and they didn't do well at all. One scored 20th percentile and the other 31st percentile compared to the national results. My dh and I are very concerned about this, and are considering sending them to ps.

I'm just not sure why they aren't doing better. I am very conscientious about doing school every day. We plug away, and slow down if needed, but covered everything I had planned this year. I have definitely seen improvement in all areas -- reading, math, grammar, etc. I know they missed some questions that they should have gotten right, and missed some questions just because we haven't covered some of the material on the test. I never thought they would get really high scores, but I thought they would be somewhere in the middle, not near the bottom. I don't think they always try as hard as they could, and they don't always pay attention, but they do their work and are progressing. They are not auditory learners at all, but can read well. Their highest scores were on Reading. I honestly don’t think they have any kind of learning disability.

I wonder if they might do better in ps because they might feel the need to do better because of the competition and pressure in ps. With such low scores, my dh feels like they couldn't do much worse. I just don't know, and am feeling very discouraged.

Anybody have any experience where their kids have done better in ps? Or any experience with their kids doing poorly on a standardized test, but significantly improving as they got older? I don’t want to put a lot of emphasis on test taking, but these poor scores are really concerning me, and my dh is really thinking that we should send them to ps.

 

 

Rule of thumb: never, ever decide to put children in school because of the results of one standardized test, especially not for children who are only 7-8yo.

 

I would expect 7yo children not to "work as hard as they could," and not to always pay attention, because they're children It's what children do.

 

FTR, I can guarantee that there are children in the public school your dc would attend who did not do any better on their standardized tests, either.

 

What did you use to teach reading and math this year? Did it seem as if your children were understanding what they were doing? How was their progress through the year? Those are questions I would ponder long before deciding to put the dc into school, and even then I don't think public school is the solution.

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Don't give up! Test scores are information....not criteria for success/fail at homeschooling. So many variables are at play here. Please take your time to consider them and tweak or adapt as necessary. Homeschooling offers so many benefits beyond academic! Love on your little ones, take a breather, and take all things into consideration before deciding on ps.

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I hope you know I'm not trying to say you are doing a bad job. I'm actually pro evals and would do them in your case. You can actually have the ps do them if you want. It's just people think I suggest evals too much. :D Really though, that's what I'd be doing in your shoes. Knowledge is power. :)

 

 

Not all public schools will do evaluations for homeschooled children. I'm leery of going to public schools for testing or evaluations of any kind; it isn't as if public schools have such a great track record of teaching their own students well, KWIM?

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I'm going to think about just practicing some tests and look for improvement this summer.

 

 

Online grade level test for Georgia by the department of education (DOE)

http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/Curriculum-Instruction-and-Assessment/Assessment/Pages/OAS.aspx

 

Grade level study guide by Georgia's DOE (test prep)

http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/Curriculum-Instruction-and-Assessment/Assessment/Pages/CRCT-Study-Guides.aspx

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I didn't look at your curriculum, but I have a friend who used MUS all the way through high school and had a child making all As who bombed the math portion of the SAT. She felt so betrayed that the program didn't prepare him better. She is switching with her other children and telling everyone NOT to use MUS. I've never used it specifically because I thought it's scope and sequence would be terrible for test taking. I think you should evaluate other math options.

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We used the PASS tests. I found them short enough that I would go over them and see how they did. Knowing what problems they missed was helpful. You can give them again in 6 months or so and see how they are doing. You should be able to tell how well they are doing in math by their daily work. Is this a program you are comfortable teaching? They are still young. I wouldn't panic. I've found that standardized tests show me what I already know about my kids. Take some time and sort it out. We all do at one time or another. :grouphug:

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Given what you have said I would not jump to PS. That may help with the test scores but be harmful in many other areas. We have enrolled in PS at times (briefly) and always come back to homeschool. Take it from someone who has been at this a long time (and has 5 kids) - PS is *never* as good as it looks - it only shifts responsibility from you to the state. The emphasis on testing in PS is, in my opinion, ridiculous. Testing has trumped learning. We recently tried a charter school for 1.5 years (for younger kids) and just dropped it due to the emphasis on testing. It sounds like you have been doing fine. You can make adjustments but please trust your gut on this -- PS is not what it was when we were young. If you keep plugging away at your course of study you will do fine.

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-Did you actually DO the stuff in your sig?? I mean seriously, how can they do all the writing for SWI A (which my dd sure wasn't doing at age 8) and not do better in punctuation?? That just doesn't make sense.

This question that OhElizabeth posted stood out to me...

OP - Did you administer the tests yourself? If so, did you look over the tests yourself?

The reason I ask is because I administer the ITBS and I always take the test myself the week prior to giving it to my child. As I am taking the test, I think over the questions and mentally note if I think my child will know the answer. I then put the tests aside and do nothing with them or give them another thought until I give them to my child. (Ie: I don't panic and try to quickly teach my child everything on the test that I think they don't know...) Then I go over their finished test against mine prior to sending it in to be scored.

Honestly - there are just things on the test that my child doesn't know and i am perfectly fine with them not knowing!

Punctuation - in the early grades - is one of them.

I was reading an article recently about why standardized tests are evil and one of the reasons listed was that they test what prior generations deemed valuable to know... This generation coming up - like generations past - will value different things and their standardized tests will reflect that...

I found that to be very fascinating to ponder...

My child tanked on the 4th grade punctuation portion of the ITBS - and I really didn't care that he did.

Why? Because 75 percent of the test was over how to use punctuation in formal letters. My child, like many of this generation, writes e-mails. When he needs to know how to write a letter, he will quickly learn where to put in that comma or how to list his return address. Until then, well - I would rather spend the time reading quality literature.

It isn't that I totally skip teaching punctuation at this stage, but I don't drill it nor would I lose any sleep over my child failing that portion of a standardized test.

 

And a funny story about when I gave my child his first standardized test:

One of the questions mentioned a "light saber" or something along that line.

My child quickly answered the questioned, jumped up on the school table, had an imaginary light saber battle with his pencil, leapt off the table and took off. He was gone - physically and mentally. Checked out.

I often wonder about children taking tests (especially in the younger grades) and how many of them just mentally check out. They come across a question about a dog or a race car or a hot air balloon ride and they just... are gone...

I think that is bound to happen, even without a LD or ADD/ADHD. I don't think children are wired to sit and take tests, nor to appreciate their value.

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My kids (youngest three) all took their first standardized test at the end of 3rd grade. Low scores. When they took their next required test in 5th grade their scores improved significantly. I was always relieved. :)

 

We had the same experience. My twins had lower scores than I would have liked when they tested in third grade. I took it with a grain of salt though as this was their first testing experience. This year (fifth grade ) the scores increased by 10 points for one son and 30 for the other:) I agree that test prep is helpful and I wouldn't go signing them up for ps just yet. They may need time to mature, sometimes it takes awhile for things to "click" and the lightbulb to go on.

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Test Taking Skills are HUGE. One thing that I *must* do with two of my children is constantly remind them to slow down and read both the questions and answers carefully. My 9yo has a bad habit of assuming he knows what the question is asking before he finishes reading it...and selecting the wrong answer. Or not reading the directions at. all. (they change from section to section...) :banghead: . We go through the same issues year in and year out. This year, my oldest pulled a doosie (I was monitoring my 9yo and my 6yo...because of rushing), he clicked to start the test (once you start, you cannot stop), and started SKYPING a friend DURING the test. :blink: . Needless to say, when I got his scores I completely wigged out (he's normally in the 9th stanine across the board...sometimes has an 8 in language/punctuation and math computation). He didn't score any 9's...and was all 5's 6's and 7's (yeah, I know those are good scores...but when you have 6 years of nearly across-the-board 9's and you see 5's, 6's and 7's...that's beyond not making progress...that's like losing two years of brain cells. So, when we found out what he had been doing instead of focusing and taking the test, although I was beyond :cursing: , I was also tremendously relieved that I hadn't missed something going horribly, disturbingly wrong.

 

I take testing pretty seriously, I have to do it every. single. year. We prep. I also make sure I cover things in a fairly standard manner. HOWEVER, because we don't follow normal progressions, we must take some time to review (not a lot of time...but we review spelling rules, grammar & punctuation rules, funky terminology, and my older kids have to review basic math.)

 

 

If you like using MUS, you could try filling in gaps/review with something like Math Mammoth (not the light blue, which is the full curriculum), but one of the topical versions...select topics to review/introduce. Something else I like, are the Speed Drill/Quiz/Test Booklets from Abeka... they are a simple (relatively inexpensive) way to incorporate regular review into your daily practice (about 5 minutes a day), and give you a snapshot of things your child might not know very well, that you can then use the MM Topic to add to a different day's lesson.

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This may be out in left field and I read most but not all of the responses. Also, my oldest is only 7 and finishing up 2nd grade....so....take it for what it's worth.

 

I have 2 sets of twins. My older set of twins is still only 5. But, I wanted to pose this question...Do you teach them everything together? For example, do they do all their math together with you doing the teaching at the same time. (I don't know much about MUS, but I think it might be on DVD, but you get the idea.) I have read several times that when it comes to basic skills, it is a very good idea to teach twins completely separately. (Believe me, I realize this doesn't sound like much fun and it sounds time consuming...I have 6 who are 7 and under, 2 sets of twins. I get it.) When you have twins learning together, sometimes one isn't getting it, but you don't realize that because they are able to scoot by on the coat tails of the other twin taking cues from them to make it seem like they know the answers when really they are subtly being prompted. They aren't doing it on purpose. Hopefully, that makes sense. I can definitely see this happening with my older set of twins. I teach mine separate for everything but content subjects (which isn't much yet....they are only in K right now. ;)) If you aren't already, I would consider taking some to work with each separately to make sure you know exactly where they are.

 

Also, one other thing, my rising 2nd grader has an Oct b-day. He is an "older" for his grade. He has a friend who was born 2wks earlier than he was. That friend (also a boy) is a grade level ahead. His mom has expressed to me on more than one occasion that she wishes they had held him back for a year and he was going into 2nd now rather than 3rd. She said it wasn't a problem till now, but she may have to pull him back, at least in some subjects. Obviously, there are compulsory age laws that come into play and you may not be able to adjust their grade, but it's something to consider if it's an option. For my friend, her son does meet the age cut off in our state to be going into 3rd. Mine does not. They are 2 wks apart, but a grade level apart. (She did have the option to hold him back though according to our laws.) So, technically, both of our children are placed correctly according to state law, but for development and maturity, mine is better off and she agrees. Something to think about.

 

Other than that, I would say everyone had good ideas. I wouldn't throw in the towel yet either. I'd find out why and work to "fix" it. Hugs to you!

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I would administer a different test at home independent of the school district. This would serve several purposes. First, it will give your kids more test practice and reinforce the "seriousness" of testing. It'll let you know if it was the "test" itself - some kids do better on certain tests than others. I used the full battery CAT test from Seton. Before I mailed it back to be graded by Seton, I went over the test myself to see exactly what type of problems my kids were missing and why I thought that was - this allows you use the test to change your curriculum or skills list that need to be reviewed. I never submitted the test scores to my district - this testing was just for me to use a diagnostic tool and reassurence that we were on "track". I am not a proponent of testing or even grading....but it's a skill by kids need to learn to make it in the world of academia!

 

Myra

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We go over it again before we move on if the results are low. Many times it's just careless errors. They both learn slowly and require repetition, but are learning and retaining. I'm going to think about just practicing some tests and look for improvement this summer.

 

Twin boys, age 9 and I think they are cut out of the same cloth as yours. They didn't do so hot on their first standardized test this year either. They scored down in the second grade level in most things, down at first grade in some of the math. They did pretty well in grammar and spelling, which I think reflected their good progress in Latin, but I sure did need a pound of chocolate to get through those results.

 

I did come to some conclusions. Probably wrong ones, but they might be helpful.

 

1) It was our first time testing. I did almost no test prep. They certainly did fine with filling out the bubbles, but an inspection of the questions on the test showed me that while I've taught them HOW to do some things, I've done no teaching with them on HOW to see mistakes. The entire language portion of the test, setting the reading comprehension aside, was on finding errors. I've been teaching them how NOT to make a mistake.

Solution: Editing work. They need to see errors and fix them. I'll looking at Editor in Chief, and Critical Thinking Co. has plenty of books on practice in punctuation, capitals, etc.

 

2)When it came to math, many of the problems were from the last part of third grade, which we had not covered yet. Some of the things we did cover last year, but I had not reviewed them prior to the test. I school year around to have a slower pace for my boys, and quite frankly, I was asking them to pass a final exam without having given them all the practice they needed.

Solution: I have to change the way I schedule the year. We school year round, and I do work in the summer. Previously summer was term 4 of the year. Now it's going to be term 1. That way we will be through all the material by the time April rolls around.

 

3) I had my boys do the full IOWA, including the listening portion. One thing I had to giggle about, because I felt like crying over the rest, was that grade level for listening was 2nd grade. And their scores, (less the reading-they were above average there)

were right at their listening and paying attention level.

Solution: I've got be more hands-on, one-on-one with these guys. I do teach my two together, and really, I do think that by not being one-on-one, I assume that they get something when one or both of them won't.

And they are both perfectionists, both are VERY competition driven. They would rather die than admit, in front of a brother, that they don't understand the directions/concept/problem. They are also very driven to show off, to best their brother, and if they can't win, they don't want to play the game. If I do this more one on one, I think I can relieve some of that. Now how to do it, I don't know. I'm figuring that out.

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Thanks so much for all the great advice. You've given me lots of good information and thoughts that I'm going to consider. I feel like your responses have given me some better focus in determining what to do if we continue homeschooling, especially regarding prepping for tests. I also feel encouraged! Thanks! :hurray:

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I would definitely not consider PS as a result of one low standardized testing year. I would add some things to my curriculum to see if I could bring the scores up. Evan-Moor Daily Paragraph Editing helped my oldest with her mechanics scores. The Curriculum Associates Focus On .... series is good for the reading comprehension sections. Spectrum has a good general test prep workbook.

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I also would absolutely not consider a change based on 1 test score. Especially for a 3rd grader doing a standardized test for the first time. Some kids are aces at multiple choice format and some kids are not for any number of reasons. Actually, I find it pretty sad that so much in a kid's life is based on performance on a multi choice test. :cursing: My own kids score somewhat erratically - they score pretty well but their strengths in the real world don't necessarily reflect their standardized test scores by any stretch. This year at 12, my kid tested amazingly well across the boards. And we had done test prep ALL year. Just 5-10 minutes a day but that made a huge difference for him. He's just sloppy, a little ADD, and finds reading comprehension passages in particular mind numbingly boring.

 

Anyway - that's another vote for practicing multiple choice format. There is absolutely NO guarantee your children would have scored better attending PS, and they may have scored worse. Some of these skills are just developmental too and when they click they click.

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First, I think you've gotten some good advice re: test taking skills

 

Second, I cannot speak to the curriculum choices as I'm not familiar with it, but there seems to be soem consistency in the comments of others.

 

Third, wondering why the concern re: test scores in third grade. They are not used for anything that I am award of other than to evalute the PS proficiency in test prep.

 

Last, I saw this article today. It may change your perspective on testing as well as you confidence in your own abilities.

 

http://www.washingto...testing-regime/

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My younger dd did not do well the first few years we did standardized testing. Some of her issues were test anxiety related but I realized there were other issues. Dd was a late bloomer in every sense of the word. She was born about a month early so technically she was a preemie. She was physically, emotionally, and academically on her own time table. We decided in her second grade year to repeat it since I only saw the issues getting worse down the road if we just pushed through. We did all new curriculum and it worked out perfectly. She is now a rising sophomore in high school (homeschool) and she is thriving. She scores above average on her standardized testing now. I'm so glad we didn't give up based on those early test scores.

 

Since you are using MUS I wouldn't expect the math scores to be above average since MUS has a non-traditional scope and sequence. If standardized test scores are very important to you I would look into a more traditional math choice (CLE is my recommendation). I'm not saying MUS is an inferior math program. It just doesn't follow a traditional track which is what a standardized test will cover.

 

I wouldn't consider PS unless there are other issues that make homeschooling unappealing. Give your kids some time to mature and don't stress out about test scores.

 

Blessings,

Elise in NC

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Just a bit more encouragement. When my kids were in PS, they spent weeks, yes WEEKS, prepping for standardized tests. They took tests in every subject usually weekly starting in first grade as well as "benchmark tests" and the state standardized tests. Your kids learning may be right on track and it may just be the lack of testing experience and specific test prep. In PS they go over questions from the previous years tests. They teach everything that will be on the tests and nothing else. Homeschool just doesn't work like that (usually).

 

We teach in different sequence. We have no idea what will be on the test and don't bother finding out or prepping. Prepping gives higher scores on the test, but doesn't really increase learning. We teach following our children's interest, following their learning speed and so much more. There are huge advantages, but they don't always show up in testing, especially not in the early years.

 

MUS doesn't have a traditional scope and sequence, but I think it is an excellent program in the elementary years. My kids used it up into the high school levels and have done great with standardized tests. However, in addition to non-standard sequence, it doesn't always use standard phrasing that they would find on the test. The kids might have misunderstood some questions and probably had some material they hadn't covered. They may also have some math skills that aren't even on the test yet. If test scores matter to you, I'd look at supplementing or switching. If math learning is your goal and they are doing well with MUS, I'd stick with it.

 

Probably the most important academic skill for your children's age is reading and that was their strength. Yay!!

 

States vary on their laws concerning providing evaluations to non-public school kids. Private testing is a possibility. If you don't think the kids have any LDs though, I would just be patient and maybe try testing again next year with a bit more prep and see if things have changed.

 

From you signature and the updates you've mentioned in this thread, it sounds like they are doing just fine.

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First, I think you've gotten some good advice re: test taking skills

 

Second, I cannot speak to the curriculum choices as I'm not familiar with it, but there seems to be soem consistency in the comments of others.

 

Third, wondering why the concern re: test scores in third grade. They are not used for anything that I am award of other than to evalute the PS proficiency in test prep.

 

Last, I saw this article today. It may change your perspective on testing as well as you confidence in your own abilities.

 

http://www.washingto...testing-regime/

 

Interesting article! Notice though he's teaching hs history, so we assume he's complaining about the *AP* test rutt, not elementary math and reading comprehension... Granted he mentioned NCLB. Doesn't change that basic test scores are extremely helpful to homeschoolers to let them see holes and get an objective assessment...

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Interesting article! Notice though he's teaching hs history, so we assume he's complaining about the *AP* test rutt, not elementary math and reading comprehension... Granted he mentioned NCLB. Doesn't change that basic test scores are extremely helpful to homeschoolers to let them see holes and get an objective assessment...

 

 

Based on the context, I think he's talking about achievement-style testing, not AP testing. Particlaurly since AP testing (in History) has an essay component, not exclusively MC.

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Actually, I find it pretty sad that so much in a kid's life is based on performance on a multi choice test. :cursing: My own kids score somewhat erratically - they score pretty well but their strengths in the real world don't necessarily reflect their standardized test scores by any stretch.

 

:iagree:

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I would definitely not make a huge decision based on one standardized test. This was their first time testing and they had no preparation for the test. Also, if it makes you feel better our "amazing" local elementary school that people move just to go to has an average score of 37%.

 

Standardized testing is not a completely accurate indicator of what kids know. Some kids don't test well. The test might have had a lot of things that your kids haven't covered yet.

 

I wouldn't ignore the results, but I wouldn't panic either.

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Some students are great test takers. Some students are horrible test takers. I would never put a child in PS because of one test.

 

Your children are young. Just because they didn't do well on a test doesn't indicate you are a bad teacher, they could just be little kids that had something more important on their minds than taking a test.

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Ultimately, I find standardized tests useful only as practice for taking the SAT/ACT tests. My rising seventh grader has been all over the place with standardized testing. Our charter has them test 2 months before school is out. I don't know about the rest of you, but I cover a heck of a lot of stuff in 2 months, particularly in math. I do try to cover the range and sequence for each grade, but don't base my performance as a teacher on one test. I look at work at the beginning of the year and then compare it to the end. There is usually a huge difference. Both of my dd's are sn (one has inattentive adhd and is gifted and the other has high functioning autism and is also gifted) and when they are tested in the right way they excel. When they are bubble fillers they kinda suck.

 

MUS is not going to give you great standardized test scores. Period. They don't teach the same range and sequence for each year. If you love MUS I would use their tests to see how your kids are doing. If you want to compare to most kids taking standardized tests I would switch to something like singapore. I know that one of the best curriculum's for the new common core standards is the beast academy as the art of problem solving curriculum is taught the way the common core tests are given.

Don't be too hard on yourself.

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