Homeschool standardized testing can be one of the most frustrating and frightening parts of your school year. Since many states now require this as part of your annual reports, it has become more and more concerning for many parents. If you are currently required to take homeschool standardized testing, or simply wish to do so to evaluate your kids performance currently, these tips will help you know how to navigate the experience.
Tips For Students Taking Homeschool Standardized Testing
You and your child do not have to be afraid of homeschool standardized testing. While some states use it as a gauge to make sure you are doing a good job educating your child, there are many variables they consider. While this may be a hurdle you must cross, it does not have to be a hurdle that frightens or overwhelms you or your child. These tips will help you to manage this experience easily no matter what the requirements may be.
Know your state requirements for homeschoolers. As homeschool standardized testing is not required in all states, it is important to check up front before you get too concerned. Asking our state board of education or homeschool division if it is required, and when, is a must for all homeschoolers. I even recommend you double check annually as laws are passed from time to time that you may not be made aware of unless you ask.
Some states only require testing at select grade levels to gauge average educational standards are being met. Others require this testing annually to see if students are on or around grade level. This is why learning what your individual state actually requires is so important.
You will also want to ask specifically, if there are options to opt out. I suggest asking the homeschool division directly instead of the state education board since they may be more biased to you taking tests versus opting out. If opting out is something you wish to do, you will need to follow proper protocol to make sure there are no issues later down the road.
Ask for alternatives for special needs. If you are concerned about your child struggling with taking tests, ask about alternatives for children with special needs. There are often choices for alternate testing facilities, administering the test yourself, or even using different testing methods like audible questions rather than written questions for those with reading disabilities.
If your child is considered special needs, you will likely have to provide proof to the homeschool board or state board of education with this information before they will allow you to either opt out or receive assistance. You cannot simply go by, “I think my child has”. You will have to have an acceptable form of diagnosis for them. This means being proactive and having these tests done ahead of time so when state testing time arrives you aren’t scrambling for proof to provide.
Visit the location of the tests ahead of time. If you have to go to a school or other facility to take homeschool standardized testing, it can be beneficial to take the time to visit ahead of time. Not only will this make it easy to find if you haven’t been there before, it can also help you to let your kids see where the testing will take place.
Verify what you need to bring for your child. While it is probably a given that you should bring pencils, some homeschool standardized testing will also allow scratch paper, calculators, and books to read during breaks or once your child finishes a particular testing section. Verify in advance what your child needs to have on hand, and what is allowable so you won’t have any problems or questions upon arrival.
Prepare your kids ahead of time with practice testing procedures. For kids who have never been in a public school system or been required to take long standardized tests, it can be overwhelming. Not only can you visit the testing location ahead of time for them to become familiar, you can easily take the time to help them with practice tests at home.
There are many similar tests online you can print and use as review or practice, or simply talk to them about what to expect and go over how they should behave and what to do should they have a question or problem during the testing.
This is often a scary situation for parents as they aren’t allowed to be there for their children during testing. Preparing them in advance will help make this a lot easier for everyone to manage, and it can give you both comfort to know you aren’t going into the experience blindly.
Don’t stress the results. One of the biggest issues face with homeschool standardized testing is the worry of both the child and parent about what the testing results will be. While they do give you a good idea of what level your child is on with some things, they do not accurately test their worth or intelligence.
Every child will learn on their own individual level. Many children are also not very good at taking tests, and can have a difficult time with timed tests, or even written exams. If there are individual unique struggles at play, the homeschool standardized testing cannot in any way truly determine the level of intelligence your child has. Instead of focusing on high scores, focus more on helping your child relax for the test.
As long as you know you are working diligently to educate your child, there is nothing to worry about regarding state mandated homeschool standardized testing. No matter what their results or experience may be, you can continue working with them to develop good education standards that work for their unique needs. As a homeschool parent, you have likely chosen this path to better their ability to learn. Don’t let a simple test determine how you view your child or their intelligence and educational accomplishments.