MARCH 8, 2019

My Thoughts on Standardized Testing for Homeschoolers


Volunteer Contributor Post

I often hear fellow mom friends, whose children attend elementary and middle school in traditional schools, complain about standardized testing.  I feel so sorry for those children and the parents that have to endure such a ridiculous tradition every year. Luckily for my family, in our state, we are not required to subject our children to standardized testing as homeschoolers.  This is different from state to state so please check your state’s requirements for homeschool standardized testing.

My Concerns about Standardized Testing

I have many concerns when it comes to standardized testing for elementary and middle school children. My concerns about testing are that standardized testing removes the love of learning from a young child’s life. It also:

  • Would make home educators set their lesson plans not to teach but to make sure their students are prepared for a test.  That sounds so depressing. I couldn’t imagine sitting down to plan out our homeschool year only to be worried about my child’s ability to pass a test.

  • Would hinder our ability to plan our or schedules the way that is best for our children.

  • Does not test the student’s mastery of a subject accurately.

  • Does not perfectly reflect a student’s actual ability in their score.

  • Can cause scores to be adversely affected by testing conditions, test-specific preparation, and level of test-taking skill.

  • Encourages students to foster certain habits, such as cramming for a test and then ultimately forgetting what they learned.

  • Makes students spend a significant amount of time preparing for the tests, which is a distraction from more meaningful learning.

  • Gives students extreme anxiety and stress because of tests.

  • Makes students compare themselves to others, which can cause self-esteem issues.

  • Does not teach practical life skills.

  • Makes the homeschool families pick out state approved curriculums to ensure the child is learning what will be on the test and not subjects that interest the child.

  • Not every child will go to college.  Some adults will ultimately be an entrepreneur or attend a trade school.  So all that time spent learning the material for the test and taking the test would be a waste of time.

Positives for Standardized Testing

For some homeschooling families, however, it is a state-mandated test for them to take every year or every other year (again please check your state’s requirements on standardized testing). However, there are some positives regarding homeschool standardized testing.

  • Without tests, it can be very difficult to assess how a homeschooled student compares to his peers in traditional schools, who ultimately will be competing for college admissions, scholarships or jobs in the future.

  • Some college programs, gifted programs, and scholarships require students to take tests to see how they compare to others.

  • Standardized tests help students prepare for the tests needed for college programs, gifted programs, and scholarships.

  • Depending on your state, tests are often required in order for the student to receive their high school diploma.

  • Test-taking is a skill which can be useful later in their education, civil service duties or in their career.

  • Many professional certifications or civil service programs, require learners to take standardized tests.

  • Tests do measure a student’s proficiency at certain subjects if the student is comfortable in the test-taking environment.

Help with Standardized Tests

There are some ways to help your child if they are required to take a standardized test.

  • Teach your student how to take a standardized test: Test-taking is a skill that improves with practice, practice and more practice.

  • Make sure your child knows about testing terminology. For example, “all of the above.”

  • Explain why the test is necessary: for some children if they don’t understand the reasons behind taking a standardized test, they can jump to all sorts of conclusions.

  • Let them know why you’re giving the test, that it’s simply something every student needs to go through to continue on with their schooling.

 
Nancy Parcels
Nancy is an Orthodox Christian wife and mom to a 6-year-old son and two angels originally from Illinois.  She has been married to a chef for almost 10 years and has homeschooled her son his whole life.  She has a Montessori Certificate in pre-primary education and has enjoyed tutoring children for 15 years.  She is a huge advocate for literacy and the family read-aloud movement and currently uses Classical Conversations. Nancy and her family enjoy the beauty of living in South Carolina!
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