Testing - Is it helpful? Prep? Hints?

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Achievement tests

Unread post by kellybell » Sat Oct 03, 2009 7:08 am

Amy C. wrote: I have to point out that this [testing] is just for me (well, and my kids). I am wanting to know where they are. My state does not require testing. We have never tested, and I feel like I need a plumb line. My wanting to test is not out of a question/concern about MFW.We just switched from another curriculum to MFW this year and this seems like a good time to get an idea of where my oldest two (3rd and 5th) are academically. My youngest is too young (5y/o).

I have been pleased with MFW. I also have to share that my oldest wrote (without any suggestion or coercion from me) a poem today about autumn. I was thrilled because he is my child who hates to write, and he has even told me that he did not like poetry nor did he think he could ever write a poem. The poem he wrote is short (with some misspelled words that I did NOT point out btw) but very thoughtful and very well written, so.....WOOHOO!!! :-) This was not in our regular studies, but I can't help but think that the MFW learning approach has helped in some way.

Thanks, again, for all the responses!
Amy C.
We use the CAT Survey (ie. very short) test because our state requires testing. Well, not exactly. It allows us to also hire an evaluator in lieu of the testing but that costs more and takes more time so we opt for the testing. Now that I said that, I will stick my neck out and perhaps make you a bit angry. Sorry in advance.

But, I question your motives. You say you want to administer the test to "see their strengths and weaknesses." IMO a standardized test is NOT a way to evaluate a child's strengths and weaknesses. A much better way is to just watch them learn. Do they roll their eyes at math? Do they discuss grammar at the dinner table? Are they writing the Great American Novel in their spare time? And, that's just the academics of it. Are they compassionate with others? Are they natural problem-solvers? Do they work for God and not men? Are they obedient and trustworthy?

If your state doesn't require testing, why bother? I can see few good reasons to give such tests to little kids. Perhaps a good reason would be to give a practice SAT or two at home before the real thing IF the SAT is required for that child's college path (and not all kids require college and not all colleges require SATs).

An achievement test is simply a snapshot. And a limited snapshot at that. It's sort of like taking a photo of about a quarter of your face. It doesn't show all of you and often doesn't show you at your best. IMO, using a standardized test to discover weaknesses and strengths is like using a 1/4 of your drivers' license photo to introduce yourself to someone new.

You are their momma and teacher (maybe I'm making some assumptions) and long before giving them tests, you know their strengths and weaknesses.

I recommend that you skip the testing until it is required by a college or your state. Save the money and time and go to the zoo instead.

Just my opinion of course.
Kelly, wife to Jim since 1988, mom to Jamie (a girl, 1994), Mary (1996), Brian (1998) and Stephanie (2001).

Julie in MN
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Re: Achievement tests

Unread post by Julie in MN » Sat Oct 03, 2009 9:23 am

kellybell wrote:If your state doesn't require testing, why bother?
Hmmm... If my state didn't require testing, would I test? I think there are at least a few reasons to consider it. Of course, if it stressed my child, I'd skip it. And I'm not sure what age I'd begin. But the main thing I think testing does is to test whether the child... knows how to test! Since I use a curriculum with very few tests (MFW, yeah!), my son has learned, by spending a couple of days each year taking the Iowa, what testing is and what skills it requires. I think that's been a good thing. The MFW method of simply ramping it up in 7th & 8th grade may do the trick just as well for the majority of students. But it hasn't harmed my particular son, who is so happy-go-lucky that he usually thinks if he just has fun, it will all work out fine. He benefited from learning very gradually, once each year over many years, how to apply himself to a test. He benefited from the group setting where he got to see other kids applying themselves, since he's the only student at home right now -- I may not have tested if he had to do it all by himself. But I can see the pros and cons of going either way, and I'm still wondering what I'd have done if I didn't "have" to test?!

Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs


Re: Achievement tests

Unread post by cbollin » Sat Oct 03, 2009 11:09 am

Julie in MN wrote:
kellybell wrote:If your state doesn't require testing, why bother?
and I'm still wondering what I'd have done if I didn't "have" to test?!
after reading Kelly's ideas, other than zoo thoughts, I started to ask myself the same question that Julie asked herself, but in reverse. I didn't "have" to test in Indiana. Now, if I "homeschool" in TN, then I'm required to test. But my children attend an off campus location of a private church related school of which I am a faculty member. got to love the legalease, don't you? ;)

my journey with "not" testing was because it wasn't required in Indiana. I figured the fill in the dot circle standardized tests wouldn't do too much to help my needs or my kids needs much prior to high school years.

But at the same time, I thought about standardized testing for my kids more to make sure that I wasn't "too laid back" about my personal standards. So for a long while, I just used the online resources that Indiana had for public "standards" of what is being covered. I figured if we could do those online things as "assessments" then we were on target and I wasn't too easy on them.

Now that my oldest is in MFW jr. high stuff, and many of those subjects have tests in them --- we do them as timed tests to have that kind of practice. Some of the tests are even multiple choice with fill in the dots. and we hope to use a SAT prep test book in high school....

Even in Indiana, there were friends of mine who just liked to make sure that progress was being made each year, and easily seeing results of tests, helped to make goals for the coming year. and as well as seeing that a kid was in the right range of skills.

but yeah.... tests are a snapshot and have to be taken with a grain of salt on it. Have reasons for why you would test if you aren't required (there are good reasons for it, but not required). and then don't stress too much on the results with the kid.

oh well.... just felt like chatting and thinking out loud.



MFW and parts of speech - and mandatory testing

Unread post by cbollin » Wed May 04, 2011 1:14 pm

MuzzaBunny wrote:I'm looking far ahead and wondering about MFW's teaching of parts of speech, grammar, etc. Here in PA, we have some rigid hs laws including yearly portfolios and independant evaluations/interviews as well as mandatory testing in 3rd, 5th and 8th grade. How will dd do on those tests and evals if we follow the MFW schedule of introducing formal grammar and parts of speech in jr high years? I have no idea what those required tests might cover but I believe that ps start doing parts of speech quite a bit earlier. Anyone?
I don't know which test is required or what the minimum scores are. I most likely would not worry on this one subtest. ;) That's what I"ve been telling my SAT-10 customer. Relax. It's a test, not a death sentence.

Grammar - caps rules and punctuation is covered in MFW before 6th grade. Usually on standardized test they tend to have child look for mistakes. So, that can easily be covered for testing needs by having child carefully check on dictation and copywork. Or do some dry erase skills on that.
*have them copy it exactly from source. then in different color mark up the sentence with caps and punctuation.
*you copy a sentence wrong and tell them to find 2-3 mistakes and correct it.

the 8 vocab words known as "parts of speech" are covered in 6th grade. If you are concerned, you can add in stuff in PLL and early ILL in very easy ways. One example is PLL lesson 76 - that is a noun lesson. After you have your child name those things, just say "all of those things that name stuff that are people places or things - have a cool name, Nouns". Then watch School House Rock Grammar songs. Dont' worry, the ps kids have had all of that parts of speech repeated over and over too.

Another thought on my scrambled brain today on this topic. I'm a private tester authorized to administer SAT-10 and IOWA via BJUPress. One mom I'm helping next week is in the midst of prepping for an out of state move. She's concerned about how her child will do and they use Abeka and enjoy it. So, it's a common concern among us home based teachers no matter if we use MFW or a "school at home" approach.

But as I keep reminding this client of mine: Those of us who have used a program consistently for many years have learned not to worry when a standardized test covers material not yet covered in our answer to prayer curriculum. We know that this material will be covered at a later time (usually very early the next chapter or year) and then be reflected in test scores the following years. It all levels out. Don't worry on a sub test score for an item.

Test tell you a snapshot of the child. Look for progression of skills over time. We're called to love our children and see them through discipleship as well as academics.


P.S. who else is singing it from school house rock?

Mr Morton is the subject of the sentence
and what the predicate says he does....

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Re: MFW and parts of speech - and mandatory testing

Unread post by Fly2Peace » Wed May 04, 2011 8:36 pm

Mine have always done fine on standardized testing, above peers, and strong even without formal work in those areas. The weakest area was grammar, but it was still acceptable, and easily explained and understood by me, since I knew we would be working on that later.
Fly2Peace (versus flying to pieces)

Julie in MN
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Re: MFW and parts of speech - and mandatory testing

Unread post by Julie in MN » Wed May 04, 2011 9:07 pm

In Minnesota, we must do yearly standardized testing. My ds used only MFW language arts recommendations from 3rd to 7th, and took the Iowa Basics each of those years. He was never asked to identify a "verb" or other parts of speech. And he has always done very well :)

Here are some more experiences over the years:
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Re: MFW and parts of speech - and mandatory testing

Unread post by TriciaMR » Thu May 05, 2011 10:15 pm

We have to do testing (Iowa Basics or California Achievement - our choice) in 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th. My dd has only used PLL/ILL since 3rd grade. We tried Spelling Power, but with her dyslexia we had to do All About Spelling. She also started Writing Strands in 4th grade. She does very well on the language arts portions of those tests. On the 3rd grade test, they explained what a subject was and what a verb was. On the 5th grade test they didn't. She figured out the subject just fine. The verb was tricky - they had underlined words that could have been verbs, but were really objects of prepositional phrases. We haven't really gone over it, but I'm not worried about it. I can't remember what they did on the Iowa Basics (we did that one in 4th grade, just to see how she would do), but she scored just fine on the Language Arts portion (except punctuation, but this year she did GREAT on punctuation, and I think that was all in ILL). Really, in the elementary years, you probably just want to cover subject and verb. Use some complex sentences with lots of words that could possibly be the main verb. Or, just pick some passages out of PLL/ILL and for each sentence, figure out the main subject and main verb, and you'd be fine.

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Re: MFW and parts of speech - and mandatory testing

Unread post by 705emily » Fri May 06, 2011 7:23 am

Agreeing with Trish. (I'm a PA resident,) I gave the 3rd grade CAT to my dd last year. They did ask for subject/predicate identification. I looked over the test and covered it those things quickly with her beforehand. She did fine.
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Re: MFW and parts of speech - and mandatory testing

Unread post by s_duguid » Fri May 06, 2011 7:41 am

We have tested every year we've homeschooled my daughter, using CAT (2nd grade) and PASS test (3-5); my state requires annual assessments and I just choose to do standardized testing rather than written evaluations.

For our first year homeschooling, I used my sister's suggestion of Easy Grammar, but then made the switch to PLL and ILL.

My daughter LOVES Schoolhouse Rocks and knows the names of the parts of speech through that. Sometimes we may casually talk about parts of speech in her writing or grammar lessons.

All this to say, she has tested very well. I also think reading and copywork help children see the proper usage. For example, when we got to the lessons of divided dialogue using quotation marks, she kind of already knew it because she observed it and internalized it.

This year's testing was a little harder for her, though. The level she was testing at used terminology she hasn't seen yet. I wasn't too worried, though. It is just a snapshot of her "journey" and helps me plan in the future. See, I knew that she is at the level where formal grammar needs to be taught and we are on pace to do All-in-One English next year. Perfect!

So you should be fine using MFW recommendations and having to standardize test. Maybe throw in some Schoolhouse Rock and some informal discussions. ;)
cbollin wrote:who else is singing it from school house rock?
Oh, Crystal, too funny.

This actually came up in this year's testing. She was stressing because "predicate" is one of the terms she's had a harder time grasping for some reason. I couldn't help, but I was thinking, "just remember the song." :) It's one of our favorites! We even covered predicates briefly in ILL. I think because in her mind "what he does" is the verb. I guess she answered correctly, though.
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Re: MFW and parts of speech - and mandatory testing

Unread post by MuzzaBunny » Mon May 09, 2011 2:22 pm

Thank you! That helps a lot and very nice to see some others from PA :)

Julie in MN
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Re: MFW and parts of speech - and mandatory testing

Unread post by Julie in MN » Mon May 09, 2011 2:32 pm

s_duguid wrote:She was stressing because "predicate" is one of the terms she's had a harder time grasping for some reason.

I couldn't help, but I was thinking, "just remember the song." :) It's one of our favorites!

We even covered predicates briefly in ILL. I think because in her mind "what he does" is the verb. I guess she answered correctly, though.
My boss tells kids that if they know the subject, then the predicate is everything else. That way, they only have to know one thing -- the subject. (This only works if you're using the "complete subject" and "complete predicate" method.)

Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
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Re: MFW and parts of speech - and mandatory testing

Unread post by Buttercup78 » Mon May 09, 2011 8:22 pm

Just want to chime in and say that yes, testing is required, but getting a certain score on the test is not. Just another hoop we have to jump through is the way I see it.
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Re: MFW and parts of speech - and mandatory testing

Unread post by donutmom » Mon May 09, 2011 10:27 pm

There's often a sample problem at the different sections that can help a student understand what is being asked--even if the directions include an unfamiliar term.

Just wanted to add that you have 8 choices of tests in PA. Know that not all tests are created equal. And remember, no matter how well or poorly the child does, the school district cannot use those scores "against" you. If you want our experience with what test used, let me know.

All these PA people popping up--so exciting. I kind of thought Kelly and I were alone!
MuzzaBunny wrote:DonutMom, I would love to know what test you preferred. I had heard the CAT is a good one?
I also did not know that scores can't be used against us. That's nice to know. ;)
Quick answer as I'm trying to ready my thoughts for convention tomorrow. I've spent past couple days getting our portfolios together for the evaluations today. My mind really is truly shot!!! Aaahh, the rules and regulations. . .

We used Terra-Nova. Mostly because a lady administers it locally for about the same cost as getting one myself & making arrangements for someone to administer it. I can IM you after weekend to tell of our experience with it.

All to say, based on your original ?, we've used MFW language recommendations & kids have done well on the tests.


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Re: MFW and parts of speech - and mandatory testing

Unread post by far above rubies » Fri May 13, 2011 5:09 pm

Our state requires annual testing and prefers setonhomeschool.org (I think that's the site) if we choose to test privately. So far, so good.

This will be our first year using PLL/ILL, but we did also find that during the test, there was an example of the problem/question, so there was kind of a quick mini-lesson in there anyway.
K (2007-2008, 2011-2012), ADV (2010-2011), ECC (2011-2012)
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Yearly Testing?

Unread post by cbollin » Sun May 13, 2012 6:47 am

weareborgswife wrote:In WA state we need to "test" or have our children evaluated by a teacher starting at age 8. Last year, for our first evaluation, I used a organization that sends you out a check list, I marked off what my son knew and he wrote a one page paper, and then it was evaluated by a certified teacher. This year I am considering a "standardized" test, that is more like what he might encounter if he was in school BUT much shorter- 10 minutes for language arts subjects, 20 minutes for the first math section and 35 minutes for the 2nd math section.

I think I am looking at the standardized test as I want to see where he is with "everyone else" which I know is crazy, but this year I am feeling like I need the validation or wake up call which ever it may be. I have been responsible for his education for the past 4 years. He reads well (besides guessing what author is saying and filling in his own, like "she was thirsty so she got herself a bottle of water" could become, "she was thirsty so she got herself a water bottle"), is about 1/2 a year a head in math, and knows history well thanks to his constant listening to Story of the World 1-3 on CD. BUT he struggles with spelling/writing- mostly because he doesn't want to make a mistake, so he'd rather not try. We have started working on spelling in a "fun" way (games with me), and he is gaining confidence.

How do you test? How do you deal with the "am I really doing a good job?" feelings? The older my kids get the more I pressure I feel to do right by them. I know a few adults who call themselves "home schooled" who were not taught much at all, because parents didn't oversee/teach - the set of girls I know are great at cleaning, but their written communication is very challenging for them. I want my kids to have options for their future to go and do anything that God is leading them to do, and that includes them being ready for life at college so they COULD go if they want to go.

Anyway, what do you have your kids do? Oldest is 3rd grade this year, middle daughter will need to be evaluated next year, and youngest is 4 so I have a ways to go with that.
with my oldest - I didn't worry. I knew she was behind in penmanship, and was a reluctant writer. I knew in other stuff she was being pushed by me. I was confident that since I was tutoring her one on one, I knew if she was behind in something and what skills she struggled on. I didn't worry on it. I really didn't. I was confident that since I was diligent in doing school and sticking to real programs, that there was plenty of progress. She was ahead of other kids in other places, and on par with some others.

Middle gal - mild special needs that had me wondering... is it enough? at first in her case we did outside therapy. Then she graduated from that. So, I did the CAT-E survey with her. Got it from Seton Home. Then, this year she did the SAT-10. well, when I got back the results, that lay to rest the "am I really doing a good job" wow.. yes I am and God is filling in what I mess up.

Youngest - evaluated by outside therapists in speech.. then I did a few grade lower with her on SAT-10. I was impressed with language development. I'm a slacker in math with her. And given that she was actually able to sit during her sister's ballet recital way, I think I'm doing ok.

I don't know if you are looking for info on various testing... try here on hslda's site.

I don't know if all the links on that link work. However I do know that for the online CAT on the Christian Liberty site.. it should go here

maybe I should email that correction to HSLDA.

I'd encourage you to read through the link to hslda's testing info. Lots of good stuff there to help keep testing in perspective. Remember too, what often happens is you get one subscore back that might show you didn't cover a skill. And that's ok because more than likely, it's the next semester or next lesson.

If you are diligent about teaching and using the materials you have and not just letting them goof off all day every day for weeks/months at a time... you are probably making progress. Those standardized test can only evaluate certain things. And not all programs cover things the same time.

What I've noticed in these tests is that you can't worry about "science" and "social studies" kinds of questions. Those are not skill based questions nor part of grade level progression in skills. If they are low, they are low. You will cover the information in MFW sequence by end of 8th grade. I'm an approved tester for one of these tests and just gave the 2nd grade one to a client. It had the famous "rosa parks" question on it. Not everyone learns that in 2nd grade. and that's ok. This child knew it because of a field trip her family went on.

The only thing I've seen not covered in MFW in "social studies" that shows up, is some elementary "economics" questions. However, in spite of that? My 7th grader knew how to approach the problem and solve it. So that told me a lot more than she got it right. She knew how to read the graph and chart and think about the question. So that told me, "ok.... it's ok not to cover classroom social studies" oooh...

anyway..... that's my pitch against complete battery tests prior to jr. high.


Julie in MN
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Re: Yearly Testing?

Unread post by Julie in MN » Mon May 14, 2012 1:00 pm

<hugs> for your worries. A few thoughts as I read through your concerns.

1. Standardized testing can be done at home. We have to do it in Minnesota and I have always done it with a group because my son works harder that way :) However, the standardized tests I've used basically test reading and math. Even the science & social studies sections are basically just reading, but "nonfiction" - with a few diagrams and such to interpret.

2. One way to know you're doing enough is to use a prepared or tested curriculum. You're doing that by using MFW.

3. Your kids won't remember everything or be good at everything. Reassure yourself by looking back through their notebooks once in a while to see what they *have* done, and to notice their progress.

4. When your son guesses while reading aloud, he could be just showing you that he reads quickly, and good readers often skim over things and get the basic gist. If you want him to read precisely when he's reading aloud, you can explain to him that reading aloud is different than reading to yourself, and your listener needs you to say every word and say it correctly. Some of those examples like bottle of water vs. water bottle are excellent examples to help him see this need. But I wouldn't equate it with having problems reading.

5. Perfectionists are a challenge, and there are some posts about teaching perfectionists around these boards if they would help.

6. Boys and writing have not mixed well at my house, and my son didn't do a lot with a pencil over the years. If you decide to back off on the pencil, it's just important not to equate that with backing off on writing. Composition can and has been done without much paper. There is a lot that can be done through conversation, then there's the marker board, and finally the keyboard.

7. I also know a homeschool family who didn't do a lot of academics. But they seem to be doing fine. The community colleges just place students where they test into, and the girls know how to work hard.

8. My best personal advice is to have a school hours. If you do educational things during those hours every day (even fun educational things), then your child will be educated. If possible, you can correct work, review, and prepare for the next day during those school hours (I know that gets harder with lots of kids at home), but basically I think you can work harder and enjoy the rest of your life more if you have a niche set aside and sort-of "pretend" you are going out to a school for the day and focus on that for those hours, without getting distracted by TV, dishes, or looking for school materials.

9. Another thing you can do is make goals for your child. I used to use a little book called Evaluating for Excellence from Teresa Moon (I think it's changed names now). Anyways, just observing them in every area, making those goals (including things like increasing attentiveness or diligence to 15 minutes at a time), and seeing them accomplished - can make you and your child feel successful.

I didn't proofread because I'm off to pick up ds, but hope something in there is helpful,

Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
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Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
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Re: Yearly Testing?

Unread post by gratitude » Tue May 15, 2012 12:10 am

I am in WA too! :-) Isn't the sun that has come at last WONDERFUL!!

This is my first year testing my oldest since he is now 8 and at the end of 2nd grade. The co-op we did this year did offer testing for one short morning. I decided to go ahead and do the tests in the environment that he learns in, which is of course is our home. So I did sign up with Bob Jones University to be a test administrator. I ordered the IOWA basic this year. I decided to go ahead and use a week away from ADV to do this at home. We are doing 2-3 sections a day, so it will take 5-6 days to do. My ds doesn't mind doing it at all; thus, it is working for us.

I know it sounds a bit like school. I think I wanted feed-back this year. We have always home schooled, but we are now at the end of 3 years of my 'teaching' K, 1st, and 2nd and I was curious to know where I stood in comparison to the school system. So it is what I decided to do. I have so far found it to be extremely helpful. He is doing Great. Watching him do the test has been insightful & checking the answers as we go has been helpful, and is helping me think through next year some. I was a little nervous about it, but it has actually been a huge confidence booster for me and helped a lot in making me want to continue home schooling. I know it sounds silly, but I was raised filling in bubbles and going to public school so it still has some influence with me in giving me an evaluation. ;)

BTW: The spiritual fruit I see in my oldest means much much more to me than the test; but the test has still been a fun break from our routine (I think for both of us). It has also shown me that the curriculum we have used for the past 2 years, which is MFW, is definitely working.

I just wanted to add that you might be surprised at how much he knows as far as 'standardized tests' go. If he is 1/2 year ahead in math and reading well you may be pleasantly surprised by how easy the testing at this level really is for him, and it may be positive for you as it has been for me. The spelling on the test is really a 'reading' test since it is filling in bubbles and picking out the incorrectly spelled word. The science and social studies is very basic. I understand about wanting feed back at this point of time. I felt the same way this year. Oh, and the tests are not timed at this level so they are fairly easy to do.

I hope this is helpful.

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Re: Yearly Testing?

Unread post by LSH in MS » Wed May 16, 2012 8:24 am

I use the test put out by homeschoolers called PASS. Do a search for hewitt resourses and you should be able to find it. The test is not timed and there is a short placement test to determine the level they need so it isn't too easy or too difficult. They are inexpensive. There is a test for reading, language, and math. It doesn't take long, but I have found them to be very helpful.

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Re: Yearly Testing?

Unread post by cherona » Wed May 16, 2012 9:20 am

grtlyblesd wrote:We use http://www.familylearning.org for our (non required) annual CAT testing.
This is what we have used too every year since my oldest was 8 and we legally had to test. It's a "bubble" test that the parent gives at home then mails in. The test results are mailed to you in a couple of weeks. I've been very happy with this testing method. It's affordable and convenient. :)
gratitude wrote:I am in WA too! :-) Isn't the sun that has come at last WONDERFUL!!
We are in WA too and loving the sun! :)

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Julie in MN
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Talk to me, please...

Unread post by Julie in MN » Sat Mar 30, 2013 2:21 pm

Amy C. wrote:Talk to me, please... ...about standardized testing.

Here is our situation:
I have 8th, 6th, 3rd graders. I also have a 2 y/o. We have homeschooled from the beginning. We have never tested. It is not required by my state. I have thought about it in the past, I did really want to test my oldest the last couple of years before/during Jr. High, but it never seemed to work out. Now he is about to enter high school and my next ds is about to enter Jr. High. I am revisiting the idea of standardized testing for my older two.

My biggest reason is to see where we need to focus our priorities over the next few years. Yes, I know my sons' strengths and weaknesses to some degree, but do not have enough confidence in myself to know if I fully know the extent of their shortcomings in light of academic standards. Plus, with multiple children with multiple ages/grades and multiple needs, it is easy to let some things fall through the cracks. We plan for them to go to college and want to prepare them as adequately as we can. Of course, my 8th grader will be starting to take the ACT in the next couple of years. This could be a good opportunity for practice for that as well.

My homeschooling group is offering the Iowa test in May. It will cost $55 for the first child and $45 for the second. I will have to drive approximately 50-60 miles on 2 different days to get to the testing location. Then my other children and I will have to find something to do during testing. There is a designated tester. It is my understanding that it will be a group setting with different age/grades testing.

I have also looked into the PASS test that I can give here at home. $33 apiece if I order 2 or more. This test's results include not only samplings of ps students but also hs'ing students. This is an untimed test.

My questions are:
Is this an accurate way to get the info I want? I have researched and found out that standardized tests do not indicate how our children compare academically to grade-level expectations but actually indicate how our children compare academically to other kids at their grade level who took the same test on a given date. Is this an accurate assessment of where they are/should be academically?

Would you test? Would like to hear other's opinions. If I test, which route should I go? Iowa or PASS? Cost is somewhat of an issue, but we want to do what is best, and could shift things here and there to make it work.

That is all I can think of for now. If you think of anything else I need to consider/think about please let me know. Thank you in advance for any advice you can offer. Oh, and I have read the MFW archived threads and HSLDA's info on this issue. I would still like to hear from others here.

Amy C.
Aw, Amy, one of those worry days, eh?

We must standardize test each year in Minnesota, although no one needs to see the results but me. They do get a little pricey, and often there is a "facility fee" tacked on, especially for homeschool groups who must pay a church or other site to use over an extended period of 2-3 days. Fortunately, our legislature also allows a small stipend to pay for this requirement (or we can use it on other student materials). Here is what we use:

1. Iowa Basics taken in the spring through 8th grade, since that's what our local schools use, and our homeschool groups could administer this if one was a teacher.

2. PLAN test in the fall of 9th (pre-ACT), this can be done by homeschool groups as it is less regimented than the pre-SAT.

3. PSAT in the fall of 10th and 11th (11th is the "official" competitive year, but we weren't expecting to place in the top), this needs to be registered thru a local school, and I just emailed the guidance department of our public high school.

4. ACT in the spring/summer of 11th (usually colleges need ACT/SAT by then), and repeat if necessary. This is at an official testing site (often a local school), and you can register online.

Here are my personal thoughts on testing... I do not really think it shows where your child is academically. First, it is one day, and many factors can affect that day. Second, the tests we've used only cover a very few areas of learning -- math facts speed, math random types of problems, reading comprehension (fiction and nonfiction/"science"), recognition of English errors made by others, reading a simple graph. Third, the biggest thing I see being tested is "testing skills." Those include things like understanding what the test question is getting at, being able to work under pressure, and being able to keep track of answer keys.

The third thing is the main reason I don't mind testing. My kids need to learn testing skills, because using MFW, I don't use a testing type of curriculum. And really even if I did use a testing curriculum, standardized tests are different than testing what you have learned. Standardized tests give random problems and topics, not the ones you just studied. Sometimes they are ridiculously worded so they don't make sense to a kid who knows *more* than what's being asked, or they stump kids for unrelated reasons such as using different vocabulary in different parts of the country. They do have a specific "style" or method and once you learn it, it isn't that complex. And in the end, I guess I've felt it was good for my kids' character to go out there once a year with other kids and sweat through a random and semi-useful test LOL. (It would have never worked to do this in our home.)

If you've read the archives, I'm sure I have posts about the skills I taught before tests. (a) A few practices in learning to fill in bubbles on a different page, the first year. (b) A few weeks of learning to edit something written by a teacher or a textbook (we used a Great Editing Adventure story), the second year when I recognized a problem. (c) An hour or two talking about "testing strategies" and such thinking in a test prep book, most years. And a lot more time on that by 11th grade, because unfortunately, testing is the main way colleges have to sort their pool of applicants.

We all teach different things over the years. I never taught everything I wanted to fit in. But this is just one of those things I squeezed in because it was required in our state and I didn't want my son to lose confidence.

P.S. As for the results, they tell you two basic things:
1. How well your student compares to other students of the same age who took that same test (this includes many students who were taught-to-the-test and does not include students who were exempted due to special needs etc, and in the college testing it only includes those students who choose to take the test).
2. There is a grade level comparison that tells you where your student falls in terms of students from all grades who took THAT SAME TEST. So if my 7th grader got a "post high school" level, that does NOT mean that my son would pass a post high school test! Instead, it means that post high school people taking the 7TH GRADE TEST would score similarly on the 7TH GRADE TEST to my student.
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
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Re: Talk to me, please...

Unread post by Poohbee » Sat Mar 30, 2013 3:34 pm

We have used Seton Testing Services. You can order the CAT (California Achievement Test) from them for $25. There is no degree required to administer the test, so you can give it to your kids yourself at home. The CAT is a nationally normed standardized test and measures achievement in reading, language arts, and math. It takes around 2 1/2 hours to administer.

Our state requires standardized testing of homeschooled students in grades 4, 6, 8, and 10. However, our legislature just passed a law which allows parents to opt out of testing their children. This is a great victory in homeschooling freedom for us, because it allows us, as parents, to CHOOSE whether or not we want to test our children. And, we wouldn't be required to turn in scores to the schools anymore. I am not a huge fan of standardized tests, because they don't give a complete picture of a child's learning or abilities, however, used as a tool, tests may have their place. I think that even though I won't be required to test my kids anymore, I will probably still test them once in awhile so that they get some practice in taking a timed, standardized test. After all, they will have to take the ACT or SAT at some point, and it doesn't hurt to have a bit of practice taking a test like that.

Just wanted to let you know about the CAT and Seton.
happily married to Vince (19 yrs)
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Re: Talk to me, please...

Unread post by TriciaMR » Sat Mar 30, 2013 4:44 pm


I have to test in 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 11th. I do get the "Test Prep" books, and we work through them in 3rd grade before we test the first time. I like it in that it confirms my thoughts on my kids' weaknesses. I have done the CAT (from Seton Testing Services) twice, and the Iowa Basics (from BJU) once. (I do have a college degree, so I can administer the Iowa Basics to my kids.)

The CAT is very short (2.5 hours or so). Covers math, reading, english. The Iowa Basics took us 3 days, and at the end of it my oldest's brain was fried. Poor kid (she is dyslexic, though). It covers Math, Reading, English, Science, History, and Math Drill. I liked the results from the Iowa Basics - it broke down the categories more and gave me a more detailed feel of where my dd was. (I knew, but it was a nice confirmation.) The CAT doesn't give the detailed results that the Iowa Basics does.

Even if you don't have to turn in the scores, I think practicing in 7th or 8th, before the kids start doing the PLAN, PSAT, SAT and ACT is a good idea.
Trish - Wife to Phil, Mom to Toni(18), Charlie(14), and Trent(14)
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Re: Talk to me, please...

Unread post by KimberlyND » Sun Mar 31, 2013 7:48 am

Just wanted to say that I have used Seton testing in the past and have been pleased with their company. It is nice to be able to administer the test myself.

Jen, I am so glad our legislature passed the home school bill! Way to go ND! It was nice seeing you at convention.
Kimberly in ND
MFW user since 2007, gone through K, 1st, ADV, ECC, CtG, RtR, Exp. to 1850, & 1850 to Modern Times
Using ECC 2014-2015 with an 8th grade son and 4th grade daughter
Have been HS for 19 years and graduated 3 dc.

Amy C.
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Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2009 9:12 am

Re: Talk to me, please...

Unread post by Amy C. » Mon Apr 01, 2013 12:35 pm

Sorry for the delay in responding. It has been a busy, but blessed Resurrection weekend. I do want to thank you all for your responses. They have been most helpful in thinking through this.

Julie, I don't know if it is so much worry (although I can do this at times) as it is the fact that I am thinking/pondering/trying to decide the best thing for my kids. I am trying to walk the line between being too lax with the "oh, it will all work out" attitude and the super-strict structure of "we have to do it this way because "they" do it" attitude. I am a thinker (probably overthink at times) who likes to ask questions and look at things from all angles to determine the benefit (or not).

I feel that I need to say that I am not questioning MFW and its effectiveness. I just want to know what academic muscle areas my dss, especially my 8th grader, need to exercise and grow these next few years, and I am wondering if testing now would be beneficial to us, and if so, which route we should go.

I had decided against the Iowa, but then wondered if that was the right decision, and have been back and forth about it. Since the deadline is looming, I wanted other opinions. I didn't want to regret not signing up for it later on.

Thanks, again, for your responses!

Oh, and this is good news for you, Jen and Kimberly, and all other hs'ers in your state:
Poohbee wrote:our legislature just passed a law which allows parents to opt out of testing their children. This is a great victory in homeschooling freedom for us, because it allows us, as parents, to CHOOSE whether or not we want to test our children.
Celebrating with you!

Amy C.

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Re: Talk to me, please...

Unread post by albanyaloe » Mon Apr 01, 2013 4:48 pm

Oh, I understand that very fine balance between ensuring that your children are doing ok, and then the need to relax.

I'm not from the US, so I do not know testing works, but I have seen on the Christian Liberty site that you can do the California Achievement Test through them. It is even offered in an Online test version for $25, with immediate results. I do not know anything about how good their service is or such but thought I should mention it. I don't think I am permitted to post links, so just look up Christian Liberty Shop, testing service.

Kind regards,
Our first year with MFW, doing ECC 2012, Our 7th year of HS'ing
Joel 11 yo, Emma-lee 8 yo and Shelley 6 yo
We're from Sunny South Africa!

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