Are you thinking about evaluating your homeschooled student? We’re talking about the benefits of standardized tests for homeschoolers today.
Say the words ‘standardized test’ in a group of parents, and you’re likely to be met with a variety of responses – folks who are vehemently opposed, some who are proponents of standardized testing, and those who are somewhere in the middle.
In my heart, I know that there’s not a test available that can tell me everything there is to know about my child. But — we live in a world that judges people and their success on numbers.
“What’s your GPA?”
“How did John do on his SAT?”
“Did she make the Dean’s List?”
Guiding your children through the maze of standardized tests is necessary, and you may just find some hidden gems along the way.
Disclaimer: I was compensated for my time to use Affordable Homeschool Testing Services LLC in my homeschool. All opinions and results are my very own.
Reasons to Consider Standardized Testing for Your Homeschoolers
We live in a state (Kentucky) that is blessedly laid back for homeschoolers. We don’t have requirements for standardized testing here, but I know friends in other areas of the country who have to submit portfolios, tests, writing samples and more.
If you’re not in a state that requires testing, why would you consider adding standardized testing to your to-do list?
In my homeschool, using Affordable Homeschool Testing Services LLC helped us in a variety of ways.
Test Taking Practice
At some point in their life, your homeschool student will have to take a standardized test of some sort. Driver’s testing, college entrance exams, LSATs, and a whole host of other tests loom on the horizon, no matter what career path your child has planned.
The Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) Testing is a stress-free way to let your children practice for these important exams.
For me, homeschooling and parenting many small children is the the hardest thing I’ve ever done, bar none. I may exude an air of confidence, but deep down, I can get totally consumed with thinking “Am I doing the right thing? Are my kids REALLY learning?”
By taking a standardized test, I can get a virtual pat on the back to say, “Relax, momma. They’ve got this.”
Another bonus? If anyone questions how my kids are getting along in school, this is a solid answer.
Identifying Areas of Weakness
In our house, I have a pretty good handle on the areas where my kids need more work. I have two that need extra help in reading, and one who needs to build her confidence in math.
If you’re not sure where your children need a boost, this test helps you with an assessment.
Identifying Areas of Strength
On the flip side, the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) Testing also highlights areas of strength for your student.
I knew my daughter was a strong reader, but I was blown away by her results.
Qualifying for Gifted Programs
If you have a student who scores particularly well in math or reading, this may even qualify them for gifted and talented programs nationwide. A quick search through the Duke Talent Identification Program shows that the MAP is a qualifier for this exclusive program.
Tips for Preparing Your Homeschooler for a Standardized Testing
I have to admit, I did NOT do a great job with this task.
I told the children, “Hey, instead of lessons today, we’re going to be doing a test on the computer!”
My boys just gave me blank stares. My daughter, used to tests in her Cottage School classes, groaned.
Affordable Homeschool Testing Services LLC has a customized practice area for your students, designed to show them how the real MAP testing works.
It’s important to let your children know what you’re evaluating, but in a way that’s age appropriate and not anxiety producing. For my older daughter, the word ‘test’ sends her into a tizzy. My sons see it as a challenge. I know I have to approach my directions differently with each child.
Another tip — prepare your children for the unexpected.
The MAP is a challenge exam. It’s directed at an age level, but it may also contain questions or concepts with which your child has ZERO experience. I totally forgot to tell my son Adam, and when the first math question opened with division, he about fell out of his chair. We rallied, but it shook his confidence a bit.
For children without experience in testing, you’ll need to explain the concept of multiple choice. That comes naturally to us as adults, but this is a brand new idea to some children.
The MAP is an untimed exam, so remind your children that they are free to get up and go to the bathroom and grab a snack when they need one.
I’d recommend clearing your school calendar for testing. Mark off two days and plan on only administering the test during that time.
Fitting Standardized Testing into Your Homeschool Budget
As the mother of many students, fitting the extras into my homeschool budget is always a consideration.
Affordable Homeschool Testing Services LLC provides detailed testing with discounts for multiple students. This is perfect for big families. Standard fees are $60 for the first student, $50 for the second student, and $45 for the third student and beyond. The optional Language Use test runs $10 per student.
For added savings, use code MAPTest17 for $5 off your testing fees. Coupon expires 7/5/17.
The Standardized Test Results – What Do You Do with Them?
Depending on your child’s age and maturity level, you may choose to share the results with them. It can be a source of validation that their hard work is paying off, or show them that you really do mean they need more practice with math!
Planning on transitioning to a public or private school setting? You could take the results with you during the application process to help with placement. My oldest daughter wants to attend a local classical Christian school, so we will be including the results as part of her application packet.
In our homeschool, we’re using them as a benchmark, and as a guide for areas in which we need more review. As you look over the math testing results, you’ll find a handy link to connected activities on Khan Academy. Along with the language arts assessment, you’ll find access to suggested non-fiction books for your kids, based on their Lexile levels.
Will I test the kids again next year? Probably. It’s a yardstick for us, and I’ll be able to compare the results from this year to next year.
Ultimately, I know that these exams aren’t the ultimate judgement of the success of our homeschool. There’s no section that measures co-operation, team building, compassion, ingenuity or creativity. They’re simply a tool, part of the entire package of our homeschooling supply kit.
Have you used standardized tests in your homeschool? What was your experience?