Monday, August 23, 2010
With the new school year around the corner, it's time to get my home-school in order. One of the things that I do to prepare for the upcoming year is to have my children evaluated by an individual testing service.
Whether you are new to homeschooling, or a seasoned pro, annual testing can be great for 2 reasons.
#1. Most states require some form of testing to evaluate your child's progress. The two tests most commonly used are the SAT and CAT tests. In Washington state, we also have the WASL tests that are given in grades 4, 8 and 10. (I think.)
#2. It allows you, the parent, to see any "gaps" in learning so that you can adjust your teaching style or change curriculum if needed.
I don't give #1 a whole lot of thought. Even though there are some really wonderful teachers in the government run schools, the reality is that the people running the public school system are busy worrying about budget cuts, higher learning and meeting standards to care about a few "rebels". But, just in case they do start to worry about my children, the tests offer proof that I am truly educating my children at home.
I'm more interested in #2. I've found that with my children, they all learn differently.
That would account for the thousand's of dollars worth of curriculum I have accumulated over the years. Clearly, not MY fault.
Each year, we test our children through Christian Liberty Press. For $25/student, we are sent the CAT test appropriate for their grade level along with the scan-tron sheet that the kids fill in. I am sent a guideline for administering the tests with the time allotted for each section. My job is to make sure that the time factor is enforced and that all of the bubbles are completely filled in. I then mail back the booklets and the test forms and CLP grades and accesses them before sending us the results. It usually takes a week to get the results.
Based on the results, I can now plan our curriculum. CLP also offers a customized curriculum recommendation for another small fee. Instead of taking another year of grammar, my 10th grader will get to earn an English credit with English Literature. Because my 10 yr. old tested higher in Language Usage/Structure, he'll be spending a little extra time on the mechanics and spelling of language, which he didn't do so well in. I also found that my two 8th graders are at different levels in a couple of subjects, so I will have to find a balance between the two instead of putting them in completely separate books.
Testing at home allows my children to take the test in an atmosphere that they are accustomed to. They are not distracted by little "Tommy" picking his nose, or little "Suzy" humming to herself. They are not worried about the teacher possibly eating them or getting beaned in the back of the head with a ball by another student. (True story for my little niece.) There is no fear of failure or embarrassment and the wiggles are encouraged, not frowned upon.
Besides all of that, Mom makes cool snacks to munch on in between sections. Or so I've heard.
Testing gives me peace of mind in knowing that I'm doing my job. Testing at home gives my children peace of mind in knowing that the person administering the test loves them unconditionally and has only their best interests at heart. It also gives them a sense of satisfaction for a job well done.
Even if one of them got caught picking his nose.
As we gear up for a new school year, I will be sharing some of our favorites with you in the coming days. For our favorite history programs/books, revisit here.