Regardless of those requirements, I decided from the very beginning that I would give my children the IOWA State Test each year for my own peace of mind. It began as a sort of self-checking task and then became a self-serving obsession. ;) Each year I delighted in comparing those little numbers and filling in graphs to see their progress. For the most part it was fun. OK, maybe more fun for me than them, but really they did not mind too much. Since it was just something we did at the end of the year, they never knew any different and therefore did not complain.
And so we continued most years, spending a few days on testing and moving on with life.
Next week I am going to share a few reasons I do not like testing these days, but today let me quickly share a few advantages to it.
- My kids know how to face a test without fear. This is big for some homeschoolers. Many do not test at all in their homes, especially at lower levels. My kids take few tests, but I knew they would eventually hit a level where they would need to know how to take a test and I wanted them confident and prepared. When my first born walked out of the ACT the first time she took it with a smile on her face, I knew we were on the right path!
- I am able to see where we have gaps in our learning. Unlike someone that just gets random scores back, I see my child do every problem. As they do, I take notes on what they seem to be struggling with so we can work on those skills over the summer. Just because "math computation" may score low does not mean my child cannot do math. It may only indicate they had not covered roman numerals or long division yet. When I watch them take the test, I can see those details.
- I have built in protection if a school board ever questions my teaching. No, it doesn't happen often, but it does happen. We have all read the stories of homeschoolers being harassed. My theory is, if I have yearly testing that shows my kids are actively learning and progressing on or above level, they are less likely to mess with us.
- It gives me confidence! Yes, this is a selfish reason, but let's face it...when you go to a job daily, occasionally someone pats you on the back and says, "Great job!" That does not happen often in homeschooling, just saying, Pair that with being under the constant microscope of others and it can often cause self-doubt to creep in. Each time we test and then are able to look at our scores, it renews my resolve to continue to do what we do and reminds me that we are indeed making progress. Well done, mom! ;)
There are other tests out there that vary in subjects tested and time it takes to take each test. There are also states that will provide testing materials free to homeschoolers. I encourage you to do some research and see if there is a good fit for your family.
That being said, standardized testing is not perfect, nor for the faint of heart. Join us next week to see what I mean!
Linking up with Caroline at The Modest Mom!