Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Blog Cruise: Standardized Testing in the Homeschool

This week's cruise asks - Do you administer standardized testing in your homeschool?  Why or why not?

I ordered our standardized tests for the year in January.  It’s bitter-sweet.  I’m glad to be in compliance and will happily meet the requirements that give me the freedom to homeschool, but, personally, I’m against standardized testing.

First, as a homeschooling parent, my children will come away with a broad knowledge base that will meet and exceed the requirements of the state.  However, we may not do it in the same order as say Iowa where the test is made.  There are many options for tests, but Iowa works best for us.
Second, standardized testing is a farce.  A onetime test is hardly a reflection of knowledge.  My kids always score well, that’s not the issue.  In fact, the state doesn’t care how they score, just that they take the test.  My issue is that a number is assigned to a child that says this is how competent he/she is based on one test.  What if a child has test anxiety, what if he/she is sick, what if there are things going on in the family at that time – all these factors are ignored as a test labels that child.  It’s one of my biggest complaints about No Child Left Behind!  A one-time test determines if a child is being left behind – I think not.  Teaching to the test instead of for knowledge is one of the reasons I pulled my children from the public system.

Finally, standardized testing takes days out of our school schedule that we could really be learning something.  These are long, brutal tests that either have to be done in a mind-numbing marathon sitting, or spread out taking valuable learning time away from me and the kids.  Not to mention the $40+ dollars per test. 
Alas, there is a bright side.  As homeschoolers, colleges will evaluate my children based primarily on their SAT or ACT scores.  My kids have got to be able to sit down and go through the process of dealing with these types of tests.  I get to see their strengths and their weaknesses when it comes to test taking and work on those skills so that the colleges get an accurate picture of their abilities as reflected by a test. 

So, tests ordered.  We’ll take them in May when our co-op time is done.  Then that monkey will be off our back for another year.  Like I said, the freedom to homeschool is worth a little testing aggravation – I’ll just be glad when it’s done for this year.
Does your state require standardized testing?   If so, what test do you use?

Take a look and see how other members of the TOS Homeschool Crew handle standardized testing.


  1. I don't like standardized tests and wish that colleges wouldn't use them to evaluate students.

    When I was in high school I was in the top 5% of my very large graduating class, a member of the National Honor Society, and almost a straight A student. I simply loved to learn.

    However, when it came time to take standardized tests and dole out scholarships, my best friend, a solid C student, scored well and got the scholarships even though for the most part she didn't care diddly squat about learning. She was just extremely good at knowing which circles to pencil in and she would tell you that herself.

    Scarred me for life on the whole test taking deal.

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  3. Bonita, I've known several good test-takers in my time too. They don't have knowledge, they just have the ability to psych out the test. Frustrating!

    When I taught study skills, one thing I taught was the psychology of the test. It's amazing how much can be discerned from wording of questions and answers without having any clue what they are actually asking.


  4. I have never been a good test taker. Always seemed like what you studied for never ended up on the test! In Florida they have the FCAT which stirs up controversy every year. Luckily I had parents that didn't base my life on my grades, just the fact that I did the work and I did it to the best of my ability. I'm just now starting to look into homeschooling for my almost 3 year old son. Honestly didn't know they still had to take these tests...very upsetting! But I survived and so will he!

  5. Hi Beth,
    I don't know about FL; you should look into the rules. Some states don't require a test. We do one, and, like I said, it doesn't count for or against you, it's just required.

    Welcome to homeschooling!


  6. I have a different take on it. For one, good test taking is an actual skill. The SAT spends an enormous amount of time testing skills alongside critical thinking. If someone has excellent critical thinking, that's not a mark against their character. Perhaps that person is genuinely intelligent and unchallenged in school, yet their abilities shine in the test-taking process! If someone else doesn't test well, it often means they have other "intelligences". I think there should be good ways of determining those, but if universities want people whose critical thinking is off the charts and they trust the SAT to provide that knowledge, there is nothing wrong with that.

    As for taking them, there are 365 days in a year. I'm okay with one or two of them devoted to taking a test. Sometimes, as moms, we are told that we know best. But often, what we know is that our child does well WHEN WE ARE THERE. The test process takes mommy out of the equation. I was fairly convinced one of my children would do perfectly on the test one year. When the results came out, I had to say, they were correct. It exposed some difficulties my child had which I didn't actually recognize since I was always present to help him through those. It has really helped me in schooling him.

    That being said, while I assert that testing has its place in determining certain factors, I do agree it has its strong limitations. We have two children we cannot test. They have dyslexia and just cannot manage it at this point. They are in remediation and, while taking a test would give me information in how they would perform on that test against their peers, it would just really discourage them to go through that process since it would be such a struggle for them and they aren't ready for it.


Thank you for commenting - I love to hear your thoughts!