Saturday, April 7, 2012

Standardized Testing

Each year as a homeschooling mom in MN you are required to test your students if they are age 7-15. The state doesn't tell you what test you have to use, you just have to choose a national standardized test.

As a public school teacher, we spent months getting our students ready to take the test. We formatted our spelling tests and writing assignments to look like the test. I hated it because the school administrators wanted the test scores to go up each year. Didn't they realize that each year we had a different group of kids??? I also don't think that each years group of students is going to be smarter than the last.

As a mother/teacher I haven't quite made my mind up. The only thing that I did to get K-man ready for his test was to explain how to fill in the bubbles. He thought I was crazy when I told him he only had a certain amount of time to complete each section even though he didn't need the whole time.

Last year, I tested K-man and used the CAT test because it was priced reasonably and I could administer it myself, on my own time schedule. We used it towards the end of May and it went well. I read the instructions and K-man would fill in all the bubbles on the sheet. We sent in the forms and in two weeks time we learned that he had done a great job. I knew that he would score well before the test so paying $30 to have someone else tell me that didn't seem worth it. The CAT only tests for skills at a specific grade level so we didn't really gain any information from the test besides peace of mind that he was on level.

This year another mom in my WATCH homeschool group organized a day of testing in town for students to take the Peabody test. After doing some researching I decided that this was the test I wanted for K-man to take this year. K-man really enjoyed the whole process. The Peabody is an oral test (except the writing excerpt) and lasted about 90 minutes. The test covered general information, reading recognition, reading comprehension, mathematics, spelling, and written expression. He was able to take the test at our local library, one-on-one with a person trained to give the test.  I was amazed at how well he scored and it makes me feel like we are right on track. Overall, he scored in the 94th percentile. The only thing that I didn't like was not being present for the testing to see first hand what he may need to work on (or still need to cover). I wish you could have seen him smile ear to ear when I told him the test administrator was impressed with the story he wrote. Writing is not his favorite subject, but I'm working on him. I'm also proud to brag on him because he was able to get a "grade equivalent" of 8th grade 7th month on his reading comprehension section. I knew he would score well, but this blew my expectations out of the water. :)

Some days, I'm not sure I'm doing all that I can to teach my kids, but this helps me to keep things in perspective and know that I'm headed in the right direction. I still don't think testing is all that important and accurate. I'm a lot more concerned about my children having real life experience and using common sense than caring about their standardized test score.

Next year I'll have two kids taking standardized testing. K-girl wasn't 7 years old when school started this year, so she didn't have to be tested this year. Right now I'm thinking about using the Peabody again, but who knows what the next year will bring.

Thank you Melissa for organizing the testing day!


  1. You are SO welcome!! I'm glad it worked well for you! And YAY K-man! Good job, Mama!

  2. Nothing like that "Mommy plan"!!! I'm still smiling from that comment from K-Man... Bright kid = Bright Teacher/Mommy! Well Done!

  3. Way to go Kolsen! What a smart little cookie! It's no surprise!