Monday, May 30, 2011

Homeschoolers and Testing

 Spring and early summer are the time of year that many homeschoolers wonder about what learning was accomplished during the year and if they should determine that by some sort of testing.  Let me start off by saying that I am not an expert, but for various reasons, I do know a bit about testing and some of the options out there.

I received the following comment from Mina the other day regarding testing:

Hi Heidi,
You seem to be very knowledgeable in the home school area so I was wondering if you could help me. Next year my daughter decided that she would like to go back to school. She'll be a sophomore in high school. Due to various unfortunate circumstances I'm unable to get to my books and curriculum. I would like to test her to make sure that she hasn't forgotten anything and to pinpoint any weak areas. I was thinking about testing her with the current state standards and then taking it from there. Do you have any suggestions on how to go about this? Any feedback is appreciated!
 I thought there may be others in this situation, and wanted to share my answer here.

Hi Mina,

If she's going back to a public or private school, chances are the school or school district will have their own methods of how to place her into classes.  My first step would be to contact the district and find out how they would like to handle it, especially if you don't have your materials available to show them.

I would also make up a transcript for her 9th grade year.  They are going to want to see some sort of documentation of what she's done for her first year of high school.  A local school district required this of a friend, even though her daughter was attending part time and only taking extras (e.g. art, photography, gym, ect) so she could play sports, which is allowed in my state.

There is a possibility that they could not accept whatever credits she earned during her 9th grade homeschooling year and put her in 9th grade again at school.  There is no guarantee that your credits will be transferable. You need to be able to present them with some sort of record for an easier transition.

Now, if you are looking to see where she is at academically for your purposes, I would recommend one of the national standardized tests available, especially one which the school district will recognize.  Depending on what sort of student she is, I have two suggestions.  The first is the CAT (California Achievement Test) which is available inexpensively from Seten and others.  The second, given she is high school age, would actually be the ACT, but only if she is an honors student and likely to do well because the ACT will remain on her permanent record with the College Board.  The next available ACT exam is in October, since you can no longer register for the June exam. Or, for something less official, you could give her a practice ACT or SAT exam, available online and in study guides.  The school district is not likely to accept the scores from a practice test though.
Based on the info you've given me, I would recommend the CAT.  Another option would be the IBTS (Iowa Basic Test of Skills), also available to homeschoolers.

I did a series on testing last year.  It isn't specifically for high school students, but you might find something helpful there.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Again, you really need to call the school district and see what they require.  They likely have their own placement tests.
Again, I am no expert, but I'd be happy to answer any questions others may have or point you in a direction.  Simply leave a comment with your question.

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