The matter of testing homeschoolers annually is met with disagreement. Some parents utilize annual testing to compare their students to other children the same age or grade. Other parents feels that testing is only as good as the level of preparation students receive, and only test children who have followed a curriculum and practiced the material required on the test. Still other parents research testing options and locate tests that measure exactly what they’re interested in knowing about their child. Due to the variety of different testing options, deciding to test, and then finding the proper test to purchase is not always an easy task.
Fueling a debate over evaluating homeschoolers the same ways as students in traditional schools, some states have adopted mandatory testing requirements for homeschoolers every year. Homeschooled students in these states have no choice but to test annually using the tests that have been pre-approved by the state in which they live. Other states have made testing optional, recognizing there are many other meaningful ways to measure homeschool progress instead. (Find out if your state requires testing HERE.)
Ultimately, the decision to test homeschoolers is a personal one that must be made within the family with a specific child in mind and all information available at hand. In my work, I always recommend doing some research and talking to other parents prior to making the choice to administer a standardized tests to a homeschooler. Then, if testing is to occur, I suggest selecting a testing method or service that provides results directly to parents –not a school or other testing agency.
Additional pros and cons of testing homeschoolers will appear in future articles here at Quick Start Homeschool. In the meanwhile, take a look at just a few of the testing options available to homeschool families. Then, follow the links I have provided at the bottom of the page to learn more on your own:
Stanford Achievement Test (SAT):
The Stanford 10 Achievement includes a Lexile measure on score reports. The test is untimed and is purported to have special formatting which keeps students focused and interested during test taking. The Stanford is nationally standardized test which and meets many state requirements. It is available year-round, and parents may choose either a complete battery or omit the optional sections of the test. Note: the Stanford Achievement Test (SAT) is not the same test as the SAT college entrance test offered by The College Board. There are 2 different tests with the same name.
Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS):
The IOWA evaluates language skills, mathematics, science, social studies and study skills. Report includes IOWA norm-referenced scores: scaled, grade equivalent, stanine, and percentile rank and graphed achievement percentiles. Approximate completion times for grades is several hours per day, over a period of 2-3 days.
California Achievement Test (CAT) and CAT/5:
The California Achievement Test, grades K-12, is a nationally normed standardized test that measures achievement in the areas of Reading, Language Arts and Math. It meets the requirements of many states for an annual assessment for homeschool and private school use. It is available in more than one form, and the survey edition takes approximately 2½ hours to administer. Note: the survey edition is still available, however some families are now choosing its modern replacement, the Terra Nova, below.
Terra Nova Achievement Test (CTBS):
Terra Nova is offered in a complete battery version which includes reading, language arts, math, art, science, social studies, vocabulary, language mechanics, spelling, and mathematics computation. The test requires little parental involvement beyond general directions and time-keeping, except in grades 1 through 3 which have sections that are read to the child by the parent . A nice feature of this test is that children at different grade levels may take the test together.
Other “tests” to consider (some may have requirements for who may administer):
- The Diagnostic Prescriptive Assessment
- Learning Styles Profile (Discount with our Affiliate Link)
- Basic Achievement Skills Inventory (BASI)
- Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement
- John’s Hopkins University Diagnostic Testing
- Woodcock Johnson Test of Achievement
- Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC)
Some web sites of interest when researching testing options: