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tdbates78

Ugh standardized tests...

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My state requires standardized testing for homeschoolers annually, although the results are not submitted to anyone. So each year I dread it. My girls aren't good test takers and need lots of hand holding so I administer the test myself, in my own home, with an old fashioned paper booklet. 

So I just ordered a California Achievement Test sample and there are quite a few things on the sample test that we haven't covered yet this year and I'm kind of freaking out. We are "behind" in math because I switched curriculum three months into the school year. But otherwise I feel like we are on track and they should at least be on par with public schools for their grade (3rd)...but now I'm not so sure. I'm happy with our curriculum choices and I feel like my girls are learning just fine but I don't like feeling like they are behind. Does anyone else run into this problem? Do I need to be worried?

I decided to go with the Iowa Form E, which we've used the past two years, so I do not have a sample of that test. Hopefully it will align more with what we have studied this year. 

Edited by tdbates78

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I really like the CAT, nice and straightforward.  Iowa was kind of a pain to administer in the earlier years, but for a child who may struggle on a single section I feel like that has more variety and is a little more forgiving, even though the CAT is simpler and less time consuming for a confident kid.

But we do a day of test prep with the spectrum books right before we test, so the kids are exposed to the type of questions and format in a lower pressure environment.  I also reiterate that the test is for my own data and a skill they’re practicing, no big deal.  We do it enough that now my older kids just shrug and enjoy the process, especially with a nice treat waiting at the end.  No sweat.

If they score poorly on a section I use that to help me see where we may have some holes or where their test taking skills may need sharpening.  Sometimes fatigue is a factor too, so splitting up the test into two days can help very much.

Remember, the test is a tool, not a judgment.  If you know your children are working hard and consistently at their material and achieving mastery at their own pace, the tests are just a check to see where your program departs from the school.  It’s not a value judgment on the intelligence or hard work of you or your child, especially if you know you didn’t drop the ball somewhere.

Edited by Arctic Mama
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Unless you plan to put them in school at some point, you don't need to worry at ALL about whether they know exactly the same things in exactly the same grade as kids in PS. I knew we would be homeschooling all the way through, so the only thing I focused on was being college-ready by the age of 18. DS was at least 2 years "below grade level" at 9 or 10, and I made no attempt to catch him up — in fact, we actually deschooled/unschooled when I first pulled him out of PS. The only "grade level" I cared about was 12th grade. He totally aced the ACT (w/perfect 36s in English & Reading, despite barely being able to read or write at age 10), and he just finished his freshman year (with a 3.95 GPA) at his first choice college, where he has a full tuition scholarship. His "grade level" at age 9 is no more relevant than his shoe size at that age.

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Maybe I should have just purchased the CAT. I was so worried about the material on the sample (online) test that I went back to Seton and ordered the Iowa. We usually spread the testing over a week so my girls won't get fatigued. Good suggestion about the Spectrum testing workbook. I may pick up a few of those. 

I don't know why I am so worried about it. I never anticipated homeschooling and when I pulled my girls out of PS (halfway through 1st grade) it was assumed that we would put them back in at some point. Now that I've been HSing for a few years and things are going so well I don't really see us putting them back in. So I guess I should just let it go. For some reason I felt like I really dropped the ball somewhere when I saw some of the questions on the sample test. 

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12 minutes ago, tdbates78 said:

Maybe I should have just purchased the CAT. I was so worried about the material on the sample (online) test that I went back to Seton and ordered the Iowa. We usually spread the testing over a week so my girls won't get fatigued. Good suggestion about the Spectrum testing workbook. I may pick up a few of those. 

I don't know why I am so worried about it. I never anticipated homeschooling and when I pulled my girls out of PS (halfway through 1st grade) it was assumed that we would put them back in at some point. Now that I've been HSing for a few years and things are going so well I don't really see us putting them back in. So I guess I should just let it go. For some reason I felt like I really dropped the ball somewhere when I saw some of the questions on the sample test. 

Remember too those samples aren’t necessarily grade specific. My kids had the same samples on both the fifth and sixth grade tests. Some were easy and some were harder.  The actual test had different material but the sample demonstrated the test format.

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The test is made on purpose with things your child may not have had yet.  Remember that they are scored based on other children their own grade.  There are above grade, below grade and at grade so that they can have a range.  They are not expected to get all the questions correct.  A 50% would put them right in the middle of the pack, not failing.

Also, I am on my fourth child and really think that standardized tests don't really accurately represent my children until around 5th grade. 

Particularly because no one but you will ever see the scores, I wouldn't worry one bit.  You know why their math scores my be lower than expected.  If the tests shows you that, it won't be a surprise, right?  Like, I know that my kids struggle in spelling, the test represents that.  They score low on spelling.  If an area is a surprise, that is one to look into if you want.  I noticed one of mine seemed to score low in inference on the reading test.  So we spent some time of that.  That's the intention of the tests, not to judge you,but to keep you on track and give you information about how to adjust the program.

Your kids may be picking up on your anxiety over this.

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36 minutes ago, Corraleno said:

Unless you plan to put them in school at some point, you don't need to worry at ALL about whether they know exactly the same things in exactly the same grade as kids in PS. I knew we would be homeschooling all the way through, so the only thing I focused on was being college-ready by the age of 18. DS was at least 2 years "below grade level" at 9 or 10, and I made no attempt to catch him up — in fact, we actually deschooled/unschooled when I first pulled him out of PS. The only "grade level" I cared about was 12th grade. He totally aced the ACT (w/perfect 36s in English & Reading, despite barely being able to read or write at age 10), and he just finished his freshman year (with a 3.95 GPA) at his first choice college, where he has a full tuition scholarship. His "grade level" at age 9 is no more relevant than his shoe size at that age.

 

And even if you put them in PS, it will be ok.  Ask me how I know........🤔

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We use the Iowa -- we actually just finished our testing yesterday. Oldest DD is slightly behind in math and hasn't had a lot of algebra exposure. Well, her math test was jam-packed with algebra. Yikes. My girls are old enough that they know the test means/changes nothing...but it's still frustrating to feel so out of ones depth. 

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If you know your kids haven't studied those things, and the results aren't submitted to anybody, why are you so worried? You'll get the results that show what your child has learned.

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2 hours ago, Arctic Mama said:

I really like the CAT, nice and straightforward.  Iowa was kind of a pain to administer in the earlier years, but for a child who may struggle on a single section I feel like that has more variety and is a little more forgiving, even though the CAT is simpler and less time consuming for a confident kid.

But we do a day of test prep with the spectrum books right before we test, so the kids are exposed to the type of questions and format in a lower pressure environment.  I also reiterate that the test is for my own data and a skill they’re practicing, no big deal.  We do it enough that now my older kids just shrug and enjoy the process, especially with a nice treat waiting at the end.  No sweat.

If they score poorly on a section I use that to help me see where we may have some holes or where their test taking skills may need sharpening.  Sometimes fatigue is a factor too, so splitting up the test into two days can help very much.

Remember, the test is a tool, not a judgment.  If you know your children are working hard and consistently at their material and achieving mastery at their own pace, the tests are just a check to see where your program departs from the school.  It’s not a value judgment on the intelligence or hard work of you or your child, especially if you know you didn’t drop the ball somewhere.

This!

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We took the CAT, and when I looked I also had a bit of an uh oh feeling, until I realized, okay, yeah, there's a few things on this test they might not have gone over yet. But also the test didn't ask about the other 50 gazillion things we've done in our homeschool. In the end, I had them take the test for practice timed standardized test-taking, to see where they fell out with other kids, and I ended up being pleasantly surprised with the results. I could have test-prepped them, but mainly I was just curious about what the results would say and if I had done that it would have kind of been the opposite of the whole point of the testing (for me).

Everyone's education has some gaps somewhere. There's no school that's teaching kids absolutely everything they could ever possibly be asked at any given time. If the results are just for you and you know your kids are progressing I wouldn't sweat it.

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IME with many standardized tests and neuropsychology tests, achievement tests, IQ tests, IOWA, Stanford, etc, I have come to think one thing- they’re all a gamble.  Your kids can know X but the tests ask Y, you could be one week away from covering 25 % of the material tested as a random mishmash of trivia.  Your kids could be paying attention well and miss questions you know they know.  Your kids could ace it even though you never formally covered something.  It’s a bare minimum sampling and only gives some basic insight over time.  As someone mentioned, with younger kids I think it’s also more variable.  If you’re concerned about your state and some homeschool threshold for an audit or some mark against you, I’d study for the test a bit, and also reach out to others in your county or state to see if they ever had issues with tests triggering an investigation.  If they are valid concerns I’d make sure I had my portfolio updated over the summer or any proof your state needs to verify homeschool requirements being met.  I’d do this only for my piece of mind.  

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I live in California. Our charter makes us do the Star360 twice a year, which I kind of like. It measures the child’s progress over the year and I like to see that. They had to take the CAASP (I think that’s what it was), too and it was ridiculous hard. When we were schooling independent I had the kids take some version of the Stanford, which was helpful. I don’t think these tests are the be all- end all like public schools seem to think, and I would never teach to the test, but they can generate some helpful information.

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As I tell DS (we use ITBS), the test is designed with some questions that are too hard, some that are too easy, and many that are right for your age. You are not expected to get all of the questions right--if you can get all the questions right on one of these, the test is too easy and I would have to get you a harder one to try.

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My state doesn't require testing, but I tested every year anyway, starting in the 3rd grade, using the ITBS (administered by my, at home).  We'd spread it out over several days, take breaks between tests, make it as low key as possible.  Reading the instructions aloud, as required, became a sort of meditative mantra after a few years.  If I'd had essential oils back then, I'd have used them as well.  It was an end-of-year ritual after all the school work was finished for the year. I never worried about the outcome of the tests, as no one saw the results except me and my husband.  Sometimes I showed them to my kids, but not always.  I just used them as a tool to see what to focus on the next year.  I would take notes during the testing so that I'd remember, "Oh yeah, C. had a meltdown during that test because he didn't like his shirt." or "A. cried and got all stressed during the Estimation portion of the math test because she doesn't like guessing.  We need to practice that."

It gets easier as the child gets older.  Don't worry about how they did in the past.  I don't put any stock at all in performance tests before 3rd grade.  There are so many variables in the outcome, and many (most?) have nothing to do with how much the child knows.  Everything, from time of day, wanting lunch, need to move, itchy shirt, bumpy sock seam, ANYTHING! can affect a young child's ability to focus and perform on a test.  As they get older, the process becomes easier.  

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It's the same in our state:  we're required to take a test annually, but not required to show anyone.  (Kind of weird, if you ask me!)   Just so you know, we never, ever, had to show our test results to anyone.  (And our kids ended up taking some classes at the PS.)   We ended up making test time a fun week because it was a break from routine and we had tea and cinnamon rolls during a break every day throughout the testing.  🙂  

We used the Iowa Basics and that worked well for our family.  We always did a little test prep ahead of time -- mostly going over math stuff like working with fractions and percentages and terms like mean, median, and mode;  working with geography terms; and understanding charts and graphs.  I figure everything else, we'd either know it by then or we wouldn't.   My kids did really well with some stuff and not as well on other stuff.   The scores they got on subjects that they did "not as well" on were never any indication, at all, of how they'd do in college, if that gives you any peace of mind!

 

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Thank you all for easing my mind. I'm not worried about the test itself. I was dissapointed because it seemed as if we were somehow behind. Now that I know more about the tests I feel better. We spread the test out over a four day period and usually do something fun afterwards like playgrounds, ice cream or lunch. 

J-rap, are you in NC by any chance?  

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9 hours ago, tdbates78 said:

Thank you all for easing my mind. I'm not worried about the test itself. I was dissapointed because it seemed as if we were somehow behind. Now that I know more about the tests I feel better. We spread the test out over a four day period and usually do something fun afterwards like playgrounds, ice cream or lunch. 

J-rap, are you in NC by any chance?  

No, I'm in the midwest.

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