Testing - Is it helpful? Prep? Hints?

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4Truth
Posts: 334
Joined: Fri Dec 17, 2004 11:59 am

Testing - Is it helpful? Prep? Hints?

Unread post by 4Truth » Tue Feb 06, 2007 3:23 pm

Kristi Covey wrote:My hs co-op offers Iowa testing in the spring. My son is doing mfw1 this year and I'm wondering if testing would show his strengths and weeknesses and where he stands with other kids his age, mainly to answer questions from extended family. I live in Indiana, so testing isn't required, but is it helpful?
Thank you!
Kristi
I wouldn't do it at this age. I'm not a big proponent of standardized testing for ages below middle school for many reasons.

Those tests can't possibly show what all a 1st grader truly "comprehends", and learning styles can even change somewhat between K and 4th. A lot of maturing goes on during those years. Even most states (at least the ones I've looked at) don't require standardized testing below 3rd grade. There's a reason for that. ;o)
Donna, with two MFW graduates and the "baby" in 11th grade! %| Using MFW since 2004.

LSH in MS
Posts: 208
Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2005 9:26 am

Unread post by LSH in MS » Tue Feb 06, 2007 3:32 pm

State testing is required in Ga beginning in 3rd grade and every 3rd year thereafter.

I began it with my children after 1st grade just to have them practice and I was curious how they would do. I liked doing it every year just so I could compare their improvement from year to year. It did help me somewhat with their strengths and weaknesses but some of the results didn't seem accurate, i.e their work at home demonstrated they knew more than the tests showed.

As long as you don't get too emotional or make your decisions based on the scores only, it can be a good thing. I decided to work a little more on their weaknesses but didn't do anything drastic such as changing curricula just because they didn't score well in a particular area.

I liked it that they are getting practice taking tests.
Lori

wife to Clifford, mother to ds (17), ds (16), ds (15, ds (13), ds (8), and ds (3)
MFW user for 10 years

cbollin

Unread post by cbollin » Tue Feb 06, 2007 3:42 pm

Kristi,

In my early years of homeschooling, I use to print out a bunch of the assessment pages on the Indiana Dept of Ed resource page. I don't really do that anymore. It was nice to have something printed to put in a folder and to help ease grandparent concerns. Honestly, they've been more impressed with notebooking and projects and stuff like that. ("You know you're a homeschooler when.... within the first 15 seconds of grandma visiting, she begins to quiz the children" ---- Todd Wilson)

It helped me to see what levels of work were expected in the public arena as well as "what am I missing". After a few years, I realized it wasn't needed.

And for the years where I have programs that only went for 160 days (instead of the 180 we do in Indiana), I could add 10 days of assessment. yes.... you're laughing at me aren't you. I was giving final exams in first grade. come on.... it was my first child. :)

--crystal

tkbbrl6
Posts: 52
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2005 12:24 pm

Unread post by tkbbrl6 » Tue Feb 06, 2007 4:05 pm

I live in a state where it is req'd beg in 3rd grade based upon our accountability group.

If you are interested in testing have you considered administering it on your own - especially for a first grader? Or if you don't want to use a full test what about something like BJU's grade level determiner packets - they are published by Curriculum Assoc who are leaders in testing - they are very easy to administer - of course they are only for math and reading.

My dd was our first to hs and I made the mistake of having her take the IOWA at the end of first grade (she was doing 2nd grade Abeka at the time) with our hs co-op group. First of all our group started testing a little after 8am (my dd wasn't used to getting up until around 9:30 or 10) which meant we had to leave our house by 7:40- then it was done by a mom she knew but wasn't close with - etc.

While her scores were high - she was a basket case by the end of each day and totally wiped out. I realized that the group format wasn't for her - it wasn't the testing, it was where and when it was administered.

When my next one was at the end of first I did his IOWA at home and it was a much more positive event. The testing did help me to see where my kiddos were weaker - sometimes I knew - other times I went , "ah, they don't get that as much as I thought." Of course we've also used the Brigance which gave us some really great results to work with and had full psycho-ed evals which we found very helpful.
Wife to dh for 13 years
Mom to ds (19) Sophmore at USC; dd(11) Level 7 USAG gymnast; ds(9) Green belt in Karate; ds (4)Still waiting for a pet buffalo or lion
Using RTR

Julie in MN
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Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Testing

Unread post by Julie in MN » Wed Feb 07, 2007 11:08 am

In Minnesota, we must test each year. While I think what the others have said makes perfect sense (kids can get stressed especially in an unfamiliar environment, moms can make too much of it, testing doesn't reflect real skills), our experience has been a bit different so I thought I'd throw it in the pot.

We test with our homeschool group using the Iowa. It is long & takes 3 days. But most of us feel our kids "rise to the occasion" with that little bit of peer pressure, and don't moan & groan as much when they see others must endure it as well, including big kids.

I also feel test-taking is a skill in itself. Feeling at ease with being timed, understanding how to fill in those little circles (especially when they are on a separate page starting in 3rd grade), and seeing the importance of attention to detail (especially if you have a happy-go-lucky child like my youngest). And my son doesn't experience much testing in our homeschool outside of this yearly big one.

Unfortunately, the biggest predictor of which colleges will seek out your student these days is test scores. Once you are in college, that becomes meaningless & all the homeschool educational skills will kick in. But we are stuck with this testing system because no other system has been developed as of yet.

So even if it wasn't required in MN, it would just be my preference to introduce testing.

However, I believe MFW does this by starting Apologia and possibly Saxon in jr. hi. Perhaps that would be just as good as a big testing experience. If I didn't live in a testing state, I might give some thought to that idea.

Posted: Fri May 02, 2008 11:06 am
I agree that testing is a skill. It is an imperfect tool, and sometimes kids have to learn something *other* than the skill being tested, in order to show their skills to the tester.

For instance, reading comprehension is often evaluated by giving the child several sentences that are very similar. There may be one trick word in each sentence that changes the meaning significantly. But a student who is not used to being tricked like this will not expect it and will not look for these kinds of details. He or she may innocently assume that the writer is on the right track and check off the dot as being correct.

I haven't had to teach testing skills year after year, but I have found it useful to teach a skill or two along the way.

HTH, Julie
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

MJ in IL
Posts: 119
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2005 5:23 pm

Unread post by MJ in IL » Wed Feb 07, 2007 4:47 pm

I also test, however I prefer the Standford. In the state we used to live in, a test score was required for several specific grades.

I am odd in that I always loved taking tests and I enjoy administering them, as well. I am planning on testing my 4th & 7th graders, but I'm not sure about the 2nd grader at this point.

Are they helpful? My dd is a great test taker so the good scores are nice to show grandparents. The results have confirmed my feelings of strengths and weaknesses.

My son also did well on the testing, although my own assessment (which I still stick with) is that he was somewhat behind. I have always taken the grade levels they provide with a grain of salt as they really mean something different than actual "grade level." I also realize I don't cover the same material in the same order that a public school does. I don't teach to a test so I take that into consideration, as well.

Overall, I agree with Julie that test-taking is a useful tool to have. I have tested 2 of my 1st graders but I wouldn't really recommend it at that age unless you have a specific purpose you are fulfilling such as a state req.

Posted: Mon Mar 31, 2008 7:57 am
I do test every-other-year. We tested last year (used the Standfords.) My younger son had used MFW for K,1, bits of ECC, & about 1/2 of CtG before testing. He did average to above average in most areas.

Spelling was quite low-OK really low-..but that was my fault. Confession--I think spelling is boring and don't like to teach it! The older 2 must have more of a genetic inclination for spelling as they have done fine with my hit-and-miss approach in this area.

My dd13 and ds11 both did quite well on all areas. I was especially pleased with ds11 as he has struggled academically...I guess just a slow starter (now if I could get him to print or write legibly!)

I think overall, the area I thought would be most trying for them was the Social Studies areas as some of the questions on the test were totally ridiculous...none covered ancient Hx either! They must have caught enough in life to do fine though.

I don't know if this next part is pertinent to your state reqs or not but...
I think you are wise to look at the big picture with testing too. It is (supposed to be) a tool for parents to see how well teachers are teaching. It has become something totally different with teaching to the test, as a measuring stick for funding...I use it to make sure I am correct in my assessment of my kids' learning. I'm also looking for changes between tests--e.g. Will ds9 improve in his spelling now that we are doing it (almost) every day?

We used to live in a testing state and they didn't look at first testing...only changes or problems showing up when comparing the two years of testing.

HTH,
Molly
dd14 enjoying AHL; ds12 & ds10 in RtR & dd5 working through K!
have done K (2X), 1 (2X), ECC, CtG, & 1850MT

MJP
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Unread post by MJP » Wed Feb 07, 2007 11:09 pm

We test every year even though we don't have to in our state. It is great to have "ammunition" if I ever need it. The children test well and it is a big party for them. My mother used to teach and she gives the tests.
They get to stay over night a couple of nights, go out to eat, and she even usually gets them something. So my kids think testing is the highlight of the year. I realize our situation is a little different. I get out of some work and everyone enjoys themselves. The test scores usually confirm my thoughts--especially the child whose lowest score was listening and following directions (smile).

Posted: Fri May 02, 2008 2:04 pm
If you are concerned about this area, we use McCall-Crabbs Standard Tests in Reading. They are three-minute timed tests where your student reads a passage and then answers questions below. There are 60 tests per book. They would be similar to Abeka's Read and Think sheets if you have seen those. For us, this is low-key and has been helpful. We do two a week--6 minutes total. I bought mine at conference one year, so...you would just need to google to find them.
Melissa
Wife of 1 for 18 yrs. Mom of 7--ages 1-15--1st, 2nd, 5th, 8th and 9th grades & (one on the way)
Psalm 16:8
Currently using--1850 to Modern Times
Previously--MFW K , 1st, CtoG, RTR, Exp. to 1850

MJ in IL
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Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2005 5:23 pm

Unread post by MJ in IL » Thu Feb 08, 2007 8:43 am

The test scores usually confirm my thoughts--especially the child whose lowest score was listening and following directions (smile).
I had that exact experience also...It was nice to show the child it wasn't just mom!
Molly
dd14 enjoying AHL; ds12 & ds10 in RtR & dd5 working through K!
have done K (2X), 1 (2X), ECC, CtG, & 1850MT

RachelT
Posts: 352
Joined: Thu Aug 03, 2006 2:45 pm

Unread post by RachelT » Wed Feb 21, 2007 1:11 pm

Hello! This my first year official year of homeschooling with MFWK and we live in Indiana, too, so aren't required to test.

However, last month I looked up assessment information for Kindergarten and found lots of helpful information on websites of assessment for phonics/reading, portfolio assessment, even PreK skills for my Prek'er like making patterns with shapes, scissor skills, etc. These gave me good information and helped me to really see the progress my children have already made this year, as well as some things that we need to work on.

The list of standards from the state is really detailed and long (overwhelming for me!), but I found some lists where other teachers or homeschoolers have summarized what my Kindergartener should know this year and even templates that I could print off and use.

If anything, it really just helped me calm down and feel like we really have made progress and it gave me some things to put in our portfolios that are somewhat of a measure of the knowledge we have acquired. I also want to go over these again later in the year and check up on skills that we have not mastered yet. It's just been a tool for me. My son, the Kindergartener, also felt good looking at the paper and realizing how many things he has learned already (like the lowercase letters which he didn't know at all at the beginning of the year and now he knows their names and sounds!), so it boosted his confidence.

I think we will follow the advice of others and wait until the kids are reading well to decide if we want to do standardized testing.

Good luck!

TurnOurHearts

Testing - how do your children do with MFW

Unread post by TurnOurHearts » Mon Aug 11, 2008 12:05 am

mommysweird wrote:For those whose state requires yearly testing, how do your children do with MFW? I want my children to be children as long as possible. I don't care what the tests say, I'll only give it due to state requirements. I was just wondering from those of you who have to do this how your children fared.
Posted: Sun Mar 30, 2008 11:26 pm
We used MFW1 & up with my son (my daughter won't be 7 until the summer so we won't test her 'til the following year), and I can honestly say I can't wait to see how he tests this year!! Last year was our first test year, and we used the CAT-5 (I personally prefer to administer the test to my child), second grade level. Max literally ACED all the math portions, but I will say, he is a total math kid. We had used MFW1 for math in first & Singapore 1B & 2A for second.

He did extremely well in all the language arts areas, except spelling. It was a total BOMB! He scored in like the 30th percentile? As he was testing, I was sitting next to him cringing! Even words I thought he'd know, he missed.

As I've typed in other posts with regard to testing, receiving those test scores was a real rubber-meets-the-road moment for me. When I looked at the spelling score, it appeared my son was below average (though I really doubt most PS 2nd graders can spell 'beautiful'!!), but when I thought back to our day-to-day use & enjoyment of Spelling by Sound & Structure, I could honestly say we loved it and Max thrived & grew. BUT, I had to decide if I was going to let one test determine the "success" of an entire year's worth of study in MY EYES.

I think the testing process is different for each child. Some, as in PS, seem born to take standardized tests. Others simply freeze! I think you have the right attitude about testing: it fulfills an obligation to our very homeschool-friendly state & the requirements are few. As long as you're able to keep that perspective, no matter the results, you will all be fine. If you're seeing steady growth & progress in your child & he's meeting the goals & expectations you & your family have, that is your best 'measuring stick.'

Now, back to what I said earlier about "can't wait for testing this year..." Max has been using Spelling Power this year, in addition to reading a TON more on his own. His spelling has improved exponentially!! I can't wait to see how he does on that test this time!! :D

Renai
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Location: New Mexico
Contact:

Re: Testing - how do your children do with MFW

Unread post by Renai » Mon Aug 11, 2008 12:13 am

mommysweird wrote:Our state (NC) is very aggressive with reading and math in the early years - too aggressive. Due to the more gentle nature of MFW, I am expecting my child to test below in 1st and maybe 2nd, then level off and probably start testing above in 3rd.
Posted: Mon Mar 31, 2008 8:52 am
I just wanted to respond to this comment. It would be natural for children to even out around the 3rd grade, so you have the right attitude about the testing. In fact, I just posted this on another board the other day,

"Also interesting is the fact that studies have shown (for institutional schooling) that children that have been taught earlier (prek-k) actually have no really advantage to those that learn later. For example, in reading, by third grade most children were about the same level regardless of prior schooling- academic preschooling, a "play" preschool that did not focus on academics, stayed home, etc. The perceived benefits of early schooling were found to only be short-term, what one could "see" - this k student can read, but this one can't. This is one of the reasons that most states moved mandatory testing from K to third grade (with a little pushing from the NAEYC- National Association for the Education of Young Children- plus testing below 3rd grade is considered not developmentally appropriate). Of course, reading is just an example, it applied to other academic subjects as well."

SandKsmama
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Re: Testing - how do your children do with MFW

Unread post by SandKsmama » Mon Aug 11, 2008 12:14 am

Posted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 3:28 pm
I wanted to chime in b/c I was a little worried this year, testing my just-turned 7 year old for the first time. He has just had MFW K and 1st grade, and has spent 1/2 of this year joining in with big sis on RTR, and reading Pathway readers. He IS reading, but I wouldn't call him an independent reader.

Anyway, he is doing GREAT - we are testing this week, and he said so far everything has been "easy". He's not had any trouble on the tests at all. (we test with our local homeschool group and use the CAT) I'm SO thankful for the preparation that MFW has given him, in their gentle, wonderful way!

Amanda

kellybell
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Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 2:40 pm

Re: Testing - how do your children do with MFW

Unread post by kellybell » Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:55 pm

Posted: Fri May 02, 2008 5:43 pm
We did the "survey level" (between 100 and 120 questions) CAT test. All levels that we did this year (1,3,6, and 8) had reading comprehension.

I agree with asking the kids questions and we do this. Sometimes I interrupt my own reading to them to ask, "why is that?" or "what would you do?" or "what do you think will happen next?" and other times I'll ask questions at the end.

One thing that I think helped is to teach kids (just like they do in the PS's) about test taking. You can find some helpful lists on the internet. Basically, I remind them the day before:

"Tomorrow we'll do our fill-in-the-circle tests. Here are things we need to know..."

I then list the basics (fill in your circle all the way, stay on the right line so that you fill in the circle for question 8 on line 8, use a pencil with the number 2 on it, not the cheap cartoon pencil).

Then, I talk about the types of problems they might encounter.

For the reading comprehension questions, I remind them "if you see a paragraph to read, read over the questions first so you know what they are asking. Then, read the paragraph, answer the questions, and remember you are allowed to read the paragraph again."

And, I remind them that it's a timed test so if you get stumped, try to eliminate a few answers and pick from the two or so that are left over!

Public school students get hints on "how to take a test" and our students can benefit from a light-hearted talk on the same subject.

Posted: Tue May 20, 2008 6:42 pm
Yup, stay relaxed. The first one is a "baseline" anyway.

Oh, and I always presented it to my young kids as a game (and they didn't get nervous) and to my older kids as a "test to see how we might need to adjust our schedule next year." It's an attempt to take the weight off their shoulders. I tell them if they score lower than we had hoped on a subject, we'll just give it more time next year.

I say it pleasantly and hope they don't hear, "Okay, ya better do good 'cuz mom's likely to assign 4 hours of math per day."

"And that's after the 5 hours of vocabulary and reading skills."

Anyway, remember it IS a baseline.

My dh, (emphasis on the "d") said something very freeing when we first decided to homeschool, before we actually pulled the two kids out of school. He said, "remember that average is okay." He freed me up from having to have stellar students academically. Whew!

Also, remember that standardized tests are just a snapshot. A student might score high one day and low the next. It's just like a real snapshot; it doesn't always look like the person. A photo might make you look older than you'd like it to, or heavier, or goofier, or whatever.

Relax. Enjoy the break from the routine of "regular school."
Last edited by kellybell on Fri Sep 26, 2008 12:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

dhudson
Posts: 320
Joined: Thu May 10, 2007 5:46 pm

Singapore and testing

Unread post by dhudson » Thu Apr 02, 2009 3:26 pm

Just FYI, that I just figured out this week, several of the main concepts in 3a are needed for 3rd grade standardized testing. CO requires testing in the 3rd grade and as I was going over the preparation test booklet, I had a small conniption because we had not learned all of the topics. I quickly turned to my Singapore textbook and realized that the next day lessons were on the exact thing we were missing. :-)

I needed to tell someone. ;)
God Bless,
Dawn
http://www.shiningexamples.blogspot.com
blessed Mom of three - 16, 13 & 13
happy user of MFW since 2002

Julie in MN
Posts: 2925
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

standardized testing newbie

Unread post by Julie in MN » Tue May 26, 2009 9:10 pm

meagabby wrote:I just need a little encouragement today. :)

I'm giving standardized tests for 1st and 4th grades. I'm curious to know if you follow the instructions to the "T". I have been, by not helping with any part of the work except pronouncing a word, and by sticking with the allotted time for each section.

This is the first time we've had ANY kind of test other than spelling. So, I expected them to be slow and have some wrong answers. But, clearly we haven't done enough math (still struggling with that singapore-thanks for previous suggestions) and reading comprehension up to this point. Also, the time allowed hasn't been enough to finish some of the sections.

How have you dealt with problems on the test that have not been covered in your studies as of yet? I assume you still expect them to try to answer them and such, but in your minds do you sort of expect a lower grade on that subject until next year (or the next testing year?) Would you allow more time? Define a word? make any suggestions to help decifer the worded problem? Do you verballize any differences in this sort of testing versus other tests you routinely do?

Our homeschool group 'grades' these for us and we were told that since it's not mandatory by our state we don't have to turn them back in if we don't want to. I'd like to have them graded to see where we fall. The grades will be kept in their files and only shared when we get to the point of needing a transcript or if we transferred to another homeschool group within our state. Do you think a low score (or whatever it's called) would be harmful on a transcript in elementary level.

Sorry, just needing sound advice. :)
Dena
Hi Dena,
<Hugs> as you sound so worried that I can't quite tell what you're worrying about :)
Here's one thread to read for comfort, showing many MFW users survive testing: [above]

Here are some of the things I *think* I hear you saying:

1. You gave the test yourself & you feel sure they will fail in some spots because of time, wording, etc.?
First of all, the tests are designed so that a few questions will be "too hard" for most kids, and so that the time allotted will be fully needed by most kids. I wouldn't worry until you get the scores back, because you don't know how this test was standardized.

2. You're not sure how far you should go outside of the instructions when you continue to test your kids tomorrow?
Our tests are given by a local school teacher in a group setting, and are quite formal. However, when I've helped with the little ones, I've changed a word or two (e.g. Minnesotans don't use the word "interstate" but instead call it a "freeway"), or adapted the time for potty breaks etc, even though I know the schools wouldn't. However, I try to feel we're following the rules in large part because otherwise the test would be useless to me.

3. Some areas of the test you know that you've never taught your student?
We use the Iowa Basics & that test is extremely general; I would even say it's just a test of math & reading skills. Other tests I've heard get so specific that one year a question asked who Rosa Parks was (the year she died). So one tactic is to choose a more general skill test. Another tactic is to get a test prep book. That's what public school teachers often basically do, using materials from the testing center or their school. I looked through one with my son this year, just orally discussing the types of questions he might see now that he's in 7th grade, & their testing hints. The first year he tested (3rd grade), I had him do a page in a test prep book because he would have to fill in those bubbles on a separate page. So you can use a test prep book for just one or two things, or as a brief overview, without getting bogged down in it. But this is where your "verbalizing any differences" would come in -- preparing them before you start the test. If you're in the middle of the test now, I might stop & talk a bit before you resume testing. But I wouldn't coach them before a specific set of questions.

4. You feel sure math is a weakness, due to problems this year in math & due to what you've seen on the testing?
Math on our test is two separate things -- math understanding & math computation. Singapore students seem to fly through the understanding parts, and not get scared by the word problems at all. However, I believe computation will totally depend on how much you've stressed the memorization of math facts. That's totally outside of Singapore.

5. You are keeping the scores private & wonder whether they will hurt your child later (if the scores are poor)?
I also choose not to share my son's scores with our school district. And I don't think they will matter to anyone. In my experience, elementary kids who move to a new school are just plugged into their age-level classroom. As a Girl Scout leader for many years, I worked with a few girls whose parents had issues and moved every few months. They were far behind and still just plugged into their grade level. If the teacher then noticed problems, they would get an evaluation and possibly be put on an IEP (their own learning plan) but not put in a different grade. I wouldn't think you'd need to show the scores unless someone was giving you a hard time. If so, the only thing that would look bad would be no improvement from year to year. If your student starts out poorly but makes huge strides, that looks great!

Does any of this relate to your concerns?
Breathe deeply, rest well, and have a good breakfast, as they say ;)
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

meagabby
Posts: 75
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2005 6:07 pm

Re: standardized testing newbie

Unread post by meagabby » Wed May 27, 2009 12:34 pm

Thank you Julie for replying and the link.
I knew there had been talk before but couldn't find the thread. I have been overwhelmed about finding the quiet time to test each child individually and there are so many sessions on the Stanford I thought I'd never get it done. :~

Yes, you answered my questions just as I meant them, thank you. I feel better about how I was administering the test by following the rules. I felt that the scoring would not be as true if I were to explain more. Isn't part of the test just knowing how to read it and come up with what they are asking? We have one testing session left and I'll put it behind us and will have learned more for the next time I do this optional testing.

As for the worrying about the scoring and it being forever in their files, well, that was probably the fear I have of measuring up in my families eyes. We haven't had alot of support from family and I suppose I've let the fact that a test that can show our areas of weakness means a sign of my inadeqacies instead of focusing on the blessing that the test can be as a tool to guide some of the teaching and assessing what needs more attention. I know I don't have to tell anyone we've done the tests or the scores so keeping that in mind helps.

thanks again for your kind words and <hug>. :)
Loving learning with MFW!

Julie in MN
Posts: 2925
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Re: standardized testing newbie

Unread post by Julie in MN » Wed May 27, 2009 9:23 pm

Dena,
I hope you made it through your day!

We used to test over 3 mornings, and this year went to 2. The peer pressure of a group helps the kids slog through it. Although some of the public schooled kids I work with seem to test for a week or 2.

I agree that testing to some extent is evaluating their logic in figuring out the unknown.

Try to relax until you find out the scores. I know the unknown is always more scary than the known. Then, if you aren't totally satisfied, I would still try to encourage your kids. Point out how very much they know compared with before they began. You could talk about things like science topics they knew nothing about beforehand, or go through their history notebooks together & celebrate. Encourage first, and make plans for improvement last. And that applies to you, too, mom !! And ask the Holy Spirit to carry your worries if they weigh on you in the presence of your family. My family's always thought me a bit odd, I think, but the proof is in the children. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a while -- and a lot of other problems in people around them -- before they sift through the clutter and notice the treasure :)
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

kellybell
Posts: 475
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 2:40 pm

Re: standardized testing newbie

Unread post by kellybell » Thu May 28, 2009 6:52 am

Okay, here are my more or less random thoughts:

What is the worst that can happen if your child were to absolutely BOMB the test? Okay, now chances are your child won't "bomb" the test but will do somewhere between below average to stellar, where most kids fall.

Remind yourself and your kids that the testing is not that big of a deal. I tell my kids that while I do need to send results to the state (same state as Trish, with the grade 3,5,7, 9, and 11 requirements) the tests really show me how to balance our studies next year. If I see we're doing fine, we keep about the same time balance that we have this year and probably use the same methods/curricula. However, if a child has a disappointing score, then it's time for DH and I to look over what is going on. Do we need to put that subject first thing each morning? Did I give the child a fair shake (with four kids at different grades, sometimes I do short-change kids or encourage them to be TOO independent)? Do we need to look at a different curriculum? Cutting back here and adding on there to the schedule?

We test at home with the Survey version of the CAT (available from Seton homeschooling -- google it). It's quick and painless and can be done in pajamas at the kitchen table if desired. I make sure we've got scrap paper and sharp #2 pencils. I tell them that the tests are designed to have a few tough questions, beyond what they are expected to know. If all the questions were only up to grade level, most of the kids would ace them and there would really be no way to rank the high achievers. So, they have questions above (and below too -- to identify how much the stragglers know) grade level. I encourage the kids to do their best and concentrate but not to sweat if they encounter a question that is hard.

I remind them to make sure that if they are on question 8 that the fill in the circle for question 8 (and not 7 and not 9). I tell them to not worry during the test about clean circles and stray marks -- we'll do that later. Test time is for the subject and just get a circle filled in somehow. I know that schools spend time after testing erasing stray marks and darkening circles that were too light.

I also tell them a little about guessing. On these achievement tests, it's okay to guess, no penalty for a wrong answer compared to a blank. I tell them that if they leave a question blank, they will get it wrong 100% of the time but if they guess then they will get it right 25% of the time since there are four choices. If they can narrow down to 2 or 3 logical answers and then pick, the percentages go up. Go ahead and guess! Also, I remind them that the three wrong choices are carefully chosen to be answers that kids wrongly give. So, the wrong answers might just look good. They won't have outrageous wrong answers.

So far, we've done okay with testing. In our state, the very lowest scorers draw attention from the state (not sure exactly what happens) but the state also gives options for "evaluation" (ie. a professional person comes in and talks with and observes your child) if your child doesn't do well with tests. Many people (even with average and bright children) choose this route. The professional looks over what the child has done and what the child can do and writes a little paper evaluating the child. So, even in a state where testing is required, there are loopholes and ways to get around it if it's just not a good option for a particular child.

HTH
Kelly, wife to Jim since 1988, mom to Jamie (a girl, 1994), Mary (1996), Brian (1998) and Stephanie (2001).

jasntas
Posts: 469
Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2009 6:10 pm

Re: standardized testing newbie

Unread post by jasntas » Thu May 28, 2009 12:13 pm

My ds is finishing up his 2nd grade year in ps and recently went through our state's testing. His teacher had him and the rest of his class beside themselves. Even telling them they would stay in 2nd grade if they failed. Which is not true. She started this about a month before testing even started. He tends to do poorly on tests even though I know he knows most of the materials. (He does struggle in reading and tends to guess at the answers rather than read all of them. We are working on that.) He was so stressed about school and testing he didn't even want to go but I kept telling him I didn't care how he did as long as he did his best and felt good about that. And I prayed a lot. By the time testing came around he seemed totally relaxed about it and feels he did well. We won't know the results until sometime this summer.

BTW, the ps tested from 8:30 to 10:00 or until all kids were done on T,W,TH for two weeks.

Calif. doesn't require testing for hs-ers and I don't know that I want to test if I don't have to. Haven't decided yet.

I also understand about the family issues. I hs-ed my ds in K but was trying so hard to impress extened family and "onlookers" that I pushed too hard and we both hated it. This time I am hoping to keep myself in check and teach the way I believe God is leading me to teach and not worry about the rest. (I found MFW then and REALLY wanted to go with it but was afraid it wasn't impressive enough to everyone else. Now I regret not going with my gut).

Not sure if this post helps but there's my 2 cents.
Tammie - Wife to James for 27 years
Mom to Justin (15) and Carissa (12)
ADV & K 2009-2010 . . . RTR (again) & WHL 2016-2017
http://tammiestime.blogspot.com/
The days of a mother are long but the years are short.

meagabby
Posts: 75
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2005 6:07 pm

Re: standardized testing newbie

Unread post by meagabby » Sun May 31, 2009 10:45 pm

kellybell wrote:What is the worst that can happen if your child were to absolutely BOMB the test? Okay, now chances are your child won't "bomb" the test but will do somewhere between below average to stellar, where most kids fall.

Remind yourself and your kids that the testing is not that big of a deal. I tell my kids that while I do need to send results to the state the tests really show me how to balance our studies next year. If I see we're doing fine, we keep about the same time balance that we have this year and probably use the same methods/curricula. However, if a child has a disappointing score, then it's time for DH and I to look over what is going on. Do we need to put that subject first thing each morning? Did I give the child a fair shake (with four kids at different grades, sometimes I do short-change kids or encourage them to be TOO independent)? Do we need to look at a different curriculum? Cutting back here and adding on there to the schedule?
Kelly, when originally posting, my fear was the worst that could happen. :~ %| But your right, an all out BOMBing of the test is unlikely. and evaluating for next years schedule/methods would be a good reason to use the test as a tool. thank you for putting me back on level ground.

Thanks for everyone's 2 cents! I feel less worried and more interested in knowing the scores for practical purposes.
Loving learning with MFW!

my3boys
Posts: 149
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 12:50 pm

End-of-the-Year Evaluations? What? How? Sources?

Unread post by my3boys » Mon Jun 15, 2009 9:58 am

mom2h wrote:I keep hearing about "end-of-the-year evaluations" that homeschoolers "'should" do. I am wondering if there are independent, outside sources for evaluations or if everyone prepares their own or if you just skip it altogether. Is this mentioned because some states require it?
I am doing end of the year evaluations this year with my fourth grader for the first time. I don't need to legally, but I wanted to know how much info. he had retained and be able to evaluate how much progress we've made in the future. I made up a math test based on the singapore placement tests for levels that he completed, an english test which I got out of the ILL instructors guide, and the geography tests suggested in the ECC IG. I'm also going to have him do an online reading test before we begin school again so I can get a good feel for his reading level and will be able to assess his progress in the future.
Alison
Mom to 3 busy boys ages 11, 8, and 6
finished K, First, ECC, and CtG - currently using RtR

Julie in MN
Posts: 2925
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Re: End-of-the-Year Evaluations? What? How? Sources?

Unread post by Julie in MN » Mon Jun 15, 2009 11:36 am

I agree that if your state doesn't require it, skip it for now. I might start thinking about it in 6th or 7th, to ease your way towards college testing. Unfortunately, Minnesota requires yearly testing from I think age 7 to age 16.

If you want to do yearly evaluations on your own, you might look at Teresa Moon's book, Evaluating for Excellence (unless the name has changed, since I've had mine for many years). It gives many different ways to evaluate progress in all subjects as well as some of the character qualities of a learner. Sometimes it helped me realize my kids had made more progress than I realized, since an area I had identified as a goal for the year was no longer a problem at the end of the year.

With K/1, tho, it should be pretty clear -- didn't read / now reads, etc. :-)
my3boys wrote:the geography tests suggested in the ECC IG.
We've done that one from ECC every year for 5 years, just for my own curiosity.

We also do spelling placement tests every year for comparison. Since ds hasn't really needed spelling, I've wanted to be sure there was some progress over the year without it.

Those are a couple quick ones you can add to your portfolio to reassure the teacher :)
Julie
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

Wendy B.
Posts: 127
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 6:27 pm

Re: End-of-the-Year Evaluations? What? How? Sources?

Unread post by Wendy B. » Tue Jun 16, 2009 8:37 pm

I use What Your Child Needs to Know When by Robin Scarlata for my younger children. I usually pull it out every few months review and check off goals the kids have met.

I had my older kids take a few standardized test during their middle school years to familiarize them with taking these sorts of tests. During the highschool years I had them take the accuplacer test yearly at our local CC.

HTH
Wendy B.
Graduated ds '08 & dd '09
Homeschooling ds 11 & dd 8 using RtR
completed: MFW 1, ADV, ECC & CtG.

Julie in MN
Posts: 2925
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Amount of writing in CTG for a reluctant writer

Unread post by Julie in MN » Mon Jul 13, 2009 10:03 am

TriciaMR wrote:A reluctant writer... when we did our standardized testing, well it showed in the "language mechanics" section - the part where you do commas and periods and capitals.
Trish,
For this testing problem, I spent about 6 weeks one year (5th?) teaching my ds to "edit" someone else's writing. He knew the punct & caps (even if he didn't use them -- he would've on a test), but I could tell that his instinct was to assume that the official test writer doesn't make mistakes. I used The Great Editing Adventure that year, & only went thru one of their stories (there are about 3 in the book). Really you could just write your own sentence. Start with, "Once upon a time, there was a princess." Then write a number under the sentence, such as "3." This means you've made 3 errors & she must find them. We did it on the marker board because my son also balks at more pencil work.

I know you're not looking for "more" to do, but it's just an idea you could switch with something else for a while if it helps.

The other thing that helped with the punct/caps issue was age. Suddenly in 7th grade, my son was getting annoyed because he couldn't understand what his friends were writing! He told me he was the "punctuation police"! I almost fell over :~ Apparently before that time, he didn't feel punctuation was essential to understanding the shorter sentences he was writing?! Anyways, all that training did finally pay off :)

Julie
P.S. Like Mike, my son doesn't type "properly." But he proved that he could type the alphabet faster than me in some online timed test he found, so I let it go...
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

TriciaMR
Posts: 998
Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2007 11:43 am

Re: Amount of writing in CTG for a reluctant writer

Unread post by TriciaMR » Mon Jul 13, 2009 10:08 am

Great idea, Julie. I don't have to test her again until the end of 5th grade, so I figure we've got about 2 years to figure it out. Yeah, that was the section on the test where they had a paragraph, and would underline a section, and then they would give 3 or 4 choices of "corrections" or "already correct." Or, they would have a sentence and it would have "Salem Oregon" in it. Well, she didn't know that Salem was a town in Oregon and that there should be a comma between the two. Or, she forgot that dates should have commas between the day and year.

I'll just keep asking God for more patience in dealing with this and more ideas.

Thanks,
Trish
Trish - Wife to Phil, Mom to Toni(18), Charlie(14), and Trent(14)
2014-2015 - AHL, CTG
2015-2016 - WHL, RTR
2016-2017 - EXP1850, US1877
2017-2018 - DE, 1850MOD
2018-2019 - College, AHL
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