Lions, Tigers, and Testing, Oh, my! - Dealing with Annual Testing in our Homeschool




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Does your state require annual testing, like mine does for homeschoolers?

Sharing today how we handled that, and some of our initial struggles along the way with our 2e daughter who had sensory and ADHD issues.

We avoided testing as much as we could during our homeschooling years, preferring hands-on learning approaches, but did do the annual testing that was required. 

When my daughter began college, I was nervous about how it would go with her testing there.  But with the practice that she had with end of the year testing in our homeschool, she was more than ready to take that on in college.

But it did not start out that way.  

My daughter had a big fear of testing, as a kid....And we found out that we had more than one hurdle to cross re her annual assessments.... 

Our First Test-taking Experience

Relaxing at the park after testing.


Our test taking started when my daughter was 8yo, as that was what our WA state homeschool law required.  And it was a big challenge for us.  

We decided to do our testing at home.  I had ordered the Iowa Test of Basic Skills from BJU Press Testing Service.  

It was a test that was given orally.  Then I was to send in the results to get a computer printout of the results.  

I was just beginning to learn that my daughter's difficulties with auditory processing.  So, when I read the directions out loud, she was lost. And then, traumatized, as she was so upset with her difficulty in following the oral instructions.  

She needed a test that had written instructions.  This was a sign of her auditory processing issues.  

But since this first testing attempt was so upsetting to her, we went another way.

I looked for an assessment from a certified teacher, instead. That was also an acceptable alternative in our state.  

We found a resource that offered at home testing at Family Learning Organization (FLO).  They also offered more informal assessments, in addition to regular testing.

They are a homeschooling family who are based in Washington state.  I was thrilled to find them.

Family Learning Organization
Photo Credit - Family Learning Organization

FLO offers standardized assessments, including the CAT, and teacher reviewed assessments, which they have done for over twenty years. So I sent the summary that they asked for, of my daughter's homeschool work that year.  It was reviewed by their teacher, who sent us helpful feedback on her homeschooling year.

This was just what my daughter needed.  The positive feedback, built her back up, and then she was ready, the next year, to tackle testing again.

Annual Testing at Home

For our second attempt at testing, I found a test with written instructions, called the CAT..... the California Achievement test. And then, we were ready to go.  For my daughter, having the instructions on writing was just what she needed.

We enjoyed the support and services from FLO, and the fact that we could test our daughter at home.  Many homeschoolers test in groups, organized and provided by their homeschool support groups.  But for us, testing at home was key.

Selling lemonade with dad.

Are you interested in testing at home, too?  Here's some links to other At-home testing options:

1.  Family Learning Organization
2.  BJU Press Testing Service
3.  a2zHomeschooling - a list of 10 more testing companies

What about Test Prep?

I decided to do a little test prep the second time around, to help build up my daughter's confidence.  For this, we chose Spectrum Test Prep.

Spectrum offers a nice series on test prep, for grades, 3 - 8.  I have a review of Spectrum Test Prep 3.

From my review:

"....I found  SPECTRUM’S TEST PREP-Grade 3. It not only calmed her fears, but just helped to build up her confidence so that when testing came around, she was familiar with the type of questions that would be asked."



We continued to use their series each year. It helped my daughter to get used to the type of questions that were asked on standardized tests.  

Later, we found the Academic Challenge Cup by the Critical Thinking Company.  It's a video game, for test prep. But, of course, test prep is not necessary to do.

Academic cup review


From my review:

"In fact, when I got the Academic Challenge Cup out to review it this week, my daughter grabbed it, recruited my husband to join her, and they enjoyed an evening of it.  They couldn’t put it down!".....click here to reach my review.


Taping into play with this test prep video game, was a helpful way to reduce testing anxiety.



And by practicing with our end of the year testing through the years, my daughter no longer feared testing, and did well with her tests in college.  My "baby" is graduating college this spring.  My, the years have flown by...

What testing or assessment option do you like to use in your homeschool?  I would love to hear about that in the comments.  


Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,

Betsy


Betsy is mom to her now college senior, whom she homeschooled from preK through high school.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early yearshigh school & college and wrote - Homeschooling High School with College in Mind.   She offers free homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting


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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review on how you test. We have used the CAT test for the last few years. I used to use Hewitt's homeschool test but it too longer. I think the test is valuable for practice for when they get to college.
    Blessings, Dawn

    ReplyDelete

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