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5 Reasons Why I Give My Kids Standardized Tests

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I don’t have to give standardized tests. Where I live there are no requirements for standardized testing. We don’t have to do a portfolio review or even check in with anyone about our homeschooling. Yet, I still give my kids standardized tests.

I continually hear from parents and homeschoolers about the downfalls of standardized testing. I agree that standardized testing is out of control in our school systems. Back in the 1990s when I worked in a Texas school district, I had the opportunity to see the whole school year geared toward passing a test. Since then it seems like this testing culture has increased and exists all over the USA. But once upon a time, standardized testing was just something that took maybe a week out of the school year. There was no preparation. There was no teaching to the test. The rest of the school year was spent educating for education’s sake.  Standardized testing wasn’t always the great beast that it has become.

So why do I choose to give my kids standardized tests?

1. Official record of homeschooling

Because there are no requirements where we live, I use the test results as an “official record” that my kids are learning and progressing in their education. I don’t give grades and we rarely have tests, so this is a marker that allows us to measure progress.

2. My kids like it

I loved the standardized testing week when I was in school. It was fun to have days that were different and no homework to bring home. In that vein, I’ve attempted to make our standardized testing days special. My kids rotate taking a subtest with free time. Our regular school work is set aside and the standardized testing days are seen as special.

3. Good practice for test taking skills

Standardized tests are the norm especially when you are looking at college entry. They give my children practice and familiarity with taking standardized tests.

4. An unbiased eye

Standardized tests are uniform. The administers of the test all have to say and do the same thing. The children’s answers are compared to other children to determine the score. It is an objective measure that is free from my own bias about my children. It is another eye into my children’s skills or knowledge. On a side note, I do agree that all tests have bias. The tests we take are biased toward children growing up and living in the USA. My children are not being raised in that culture. In general though, what I mean about an unbiased eye is that the tests are not evaluating my children through my eyes.

5. For information

This is my most important reason of all. Standardized tests give me information to help me evaluate what my children know and understand how they think. I carefully choose the level or type of standardized test that will give me the most information about my child. I go into it with some questions. I consider what I want to know. My atypical learners often leave me baffled with many questions.

When it is all said and done, I look over their results. I used to administer individual standardized tests to children in the school district. As a Speech-Language Pathologist I would give tests that would help me figure out more about a child’s difficulty. I would obtain scores for the test, but some of the most valuable information was obtained by looking over which items were answered correctly and which ones were incorrect. This is what I do with my children’s tests.

I look over my children’s tests and analyze their answers. Sometimes they surprise me with things that I expected them to miss and sometimes I shake my head wondering how they could have missed a question. I look at all their answers in the different categories and do a lot of thinking. I try to discover any patterns in what they missed and think about whether items were missed because we haven’t covered it, because of their learning style, because they struggle with the area, or some other reason. I also look at items correct and determine if that matches what I see in their everyday schooling.   If the child does well in a subtest, but not in everyday life I consider what questions were asked and analyze why my child had no difficulty with the test or why my child has difficulty in everyday school work.  I also consider whether their answers are an accurate reflection of their knowledge and abilities.

My boys just finished standardized testing and I’m about to send their tests to be scored. The scores will be helpful, but I’ve already obtained the most helpful information. I’ve learned more about how they learn. I’ve learned more about what my kids know. This knowledge will help me personalize their education even more.

In my opinion, standardized tests are just a tool.  It can be used for good or it can be overemphasized and used to hinder true education.  I’ve found that they can be used to enhance education by providing information to help me personalize my children’s education even more.  I know more about my children’s strengths and weaknesses.  I know more about how they think.  As a teacher and a parent, understanding more about my kids is a good thing.

Want to know what other bloggers think about standardized testing?  Check out Gifted Homeschooler’s Forum page where bloggers have come together to share their thoughts about standardized testing.

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9 Comments:

  1. We use the Peabody. I love to see how he’s progressing through the eyes of a non-partial evaluator. I like having a baseline if I’m looking for a particular curriculum. Our state requires annual testing, but it’s just for the parents’ information.

  2. Yes, tests are a tool, and they CAN be used well. What a great message!
    Inga M. Cotton recently posted…F.T. reviews “Spare Parts” movie: Arizona teenagers take on underwater robotics challengeMy Profile

  3. I really enjoyed reading your post. I love #2!
    Nicole recently posted…Beyond the StandardsMy Profile

  4. Thanks for your well reasoned article explaining how standardized tests work for your family.

  5. I appreciate this perspective. I am a school psych and I love a good assessment. I’ve debated using a year end assessment as a way to make myself feel better since this is our first year homeschooling.

    I loved this line from your post- it’s so true:
    But once upon a time, standardized testing was just something that took maybe a week out of the school year. There was no preparation. There was no teaching to the test. The rest of the school year was spent educating for education’s sake. Standardized testing wasn’t always the great beast that it has become.
    Cait Fitz @ My Little Poppies recently posted…I’d Rather _________ Than Fill in Test Bubbles! ‪#‎lesstests‬My Profile

  6. Pingback: Educational Testing GHF

  7. Can you share, on your blog or through email, what standardized tests you have found most useful? Thank you!

    • Eclectic Homeschooling

      I’ve used the Stanford and the IOWA as the main achievement tests. I’ve also done the cognitive tests that go along with the achievement tests to give me more information. The Stanford is untimed and the IOWA is timed. I found both available at BJU Testing.

  8. I agree with your reasons. My son is in a private classical school that uses the ITBS test every year. The state does not require it, but the school uses it for informational purposes. I expect to see some areas of lower scoring and some for higher scoring than national averages because of the curriculum track the school uses (probably similar to you with the culture bias).

    I do use it to see where I might want to add some summer enrichment. But I don’t focus on the scores (or even my son’s grades at school). I am one of “those” moms and I discuss what my son is learning with him and that’s how I really track his progress and if the school continues to be the right place for him.

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