|Spring Testing Schedule For Homeschoolers
Homeschooling laws differ according to state or province, but many areas require homeschoolers to take annual grade level tests that are usually given in the spring. Some homeschoolers like these tests and view them as a confirmation of their teaching, others hate them. However, like them or not, we are living in a test-crazy world and children of all ages are taking more tests than ever before.
If you have a high school sophomore, your state may require him or her to take a state high school exit exam, which is usually given in January of the sophomore or junior year. You can call the public high school in your area and ask if your area requires such an exam and if you can take the exam at their campus. Usually, the schools are very accommodating.
If you have a high school junior, your student may have already taken the PSAT, which is taken in October of either the sophomore or junior year. This test is not required and is generally used as a scholarship determination device. If your child scores well, they may be eligible for a college scholarship. A high score also gets you noticed by college recruiters.
If you have a high school junior, you are also most likely preparing him or her to take the college entrance exams; usually the SAT, SAT II Subject Exams, or the ACT. Traditionally, homeschoolers score higher on these exams than do private and public school students. But preparation is key, if you want your child to score well on these exams.
If you have an elementary age student, your state may require that you take a grade level test each spring. In California, for example, students are required to take the STAR test. These tests are based on the grade level expectations for that state and compare your child with other students in the same grade level. If you are using your state's grade level expectations as your homeschooling criteria, then these tests may be helpful to you. However, most homeschoolers (and in fact most school students) don't find these annual tests particularly helpful or informative.
Why is that? Because grade level expectations differ state by state, school by school, family by family.
(Continue reading for more information on grade level requirements.)
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Is Your Child At (Or Above)
If you are like most homeschoolers, you probably have worried at one point or another, "Is my child keeping up with kids of his or her age group?"
I really want to comfort you about this. There really are no specific expectations for each grade. At least no one agrees on these expectations.
Isn't it interesting...
...Education requirements differ from state to state, but
as long as you expect the best from your child,
you are likely to exceed any government standards.
And, quite frankly, what the state requires of children is far less than what they are actually capable of. If you and your child are like most homeschooling families, your child will end up surpassing state requirements. They're often very different from what parents come to know their children can achieve. And different still from what goals children want for themselves.
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"I am instilling a love of learning. My family always talks about college, and we've visited our alumni schools. The kids know that they are expected to go to college. Right now, we focus on learning and all the ways one can do this for a lifetime. High school is merely a place to get free classes and college is a place to earn a degree. The luckiest students, though, learn in spite of requirements from institutions."
There are so many types of primary school educations and different requirements from state to state, that there is no one answer to the question, "What does my child need to know by the end of our homeschool year?" Schools all have different expectations for what they think should be accomplished by the end of each grade. For example, Waldorf schools like to give their students time to mature and do not teach reading until the second grade. However, there are some private schools that expect preschoolers to already be reading, while classical homeschoolers do things differently than Charlotte Mason homeschoolers.
Actually, grade level expectations are pretty random. And to be honest, isn't our goal to do better than the public schools? Not just meet their standards? So I want to encourage you not to worry about standardized grade level expectations and instead to set goals for your children each year that will give them an excellent education that is based on developing their special passions and talents. And that is the real beauty of homeschooling and the advantage for you—there is no rigid set of rules about what, when or how your children should learn.
(Continue reading to find three activities you can do to determine your own grade level expectations)
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Determining Your Own Grade Level Expectations
1) Google It
Your initial research can be done on the internet. You can easily find out everything you need to know about your state's education guidelines by going to "Google" or "Yahoo" or any of the search engines. Enter in the name of your state and then the words "grade level expectations."
This will bring up links to sites that will list the laws in your state, and specific requirements for math, science, and reading. These will give you guidelines to meet if you are required to take standardized tests each year. These tests simply compare your student with other students in the state and tell you generally what percentile your child is in within the average scoring for their age group.
2) Ask other homeschoolers in your area
The best way to find out about the homeschool testing laws in your area is to contact a homeschooling support group in your area. Ask them what you need to do. They will probably know every nuance of the system and can communicate it more directly sometimes than reading through all the state's documents online.
Some states require annual testing. Some require you to submit a portfolio each semester or year. Some states allow you to join a charter school or "umbrella school." Find out what documentation you will need to submit and when you have to submit it.
Be sure to ask more than one person because there are lots of right ways to follow homeschooling laws. To find a local homeschooling support group in your area go to: www.homeschool.com/supportgroups.
3) Read up on the subject
There are a few books I recommend for determining your own standards for learning. My family really likes the What Every 1st Grader Should Know series by E.D. Hirsh. This series includes books for grades K through 6. My family has worn our copies to tatters. You may also get a lot out of the book called The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer. Her method of classical homeschooling is very popular with homeschoolers. And Rebecca Rupp has a good book called Home Learning Year by Year. These books may enable you to gauge a long-term trajectory of where you want your kids to be along the way, with a focus on their intellectual development. Chances are your children will soon exceed your state's grade expectations
The Testing Season is Upon Us -- Are You Prepared?
Homeschool.com's Editor-in-Chief personally recommends Kaplan. She is currently using Kaplan to help her 16 year old son prepare for the SAT and SAT II exams, working online and via telephone with live tutors.
Kaplan has been the premium name in test preparation for over 70 years. Their Premier Tutoring program offers exclusive, one-on-one instruction from an outstanding tutor. At your convenience, on your schedule, in your home.
Every student has a unique learning style. Kaplan's program starts with an assessment of your child's academic abilities, personality, scheduling needs, and score goals so they can make the best tutor match. Their tutors are experts in interactive one-on-one instruction and will get your child the results they need on Test Day. Sign up for tutoring now at: www.kaptest.com.