To test, or not to test, that is the question?

Or at least one of the questions you may be asking???

Crossroads Christian School does not require that your homeschooled students be tested. However, we do provide the opportunity if you desire it.  Disregard my remarks at the January 2017 faculty meeting about the Stanford being discontinued and our school using the Iowa this year.  We will be using the Stanford test again this year!

The following remarks are my opinion, so as you read, take it for what it is, certainly not the gospel! If there is no reason for your child NOT to test, if he has no particular learning disability, or your family doesn’t have any major schedule conflicts, and you can afford to pay for the tests, then you should try to get your child accustomed to testing.

Test scores are used in many different ways. Personally, you can use them to have an objective measurement of your child’s educational progress. It is a useful tool as you consider your total educational program for your students. But it is simply one tool among many; you should not put all your eggs in the testing basket as you evaluate your homeschooling.

If you’ve never tested your student, and you choose to do so, realize you need to make sure the anxiety level is reduced, both in you and in your student! What if your student does not do well taking tests? A lot of students do have test anxiety. But, you need to know this about your student before she gets to high school age. Otherwise, she has a low test score, and you’re questioning everything you’ve ever done. If she experiences test anxiety, it’s better to know that earlier rather than later, so you can work through that issue.

As your students get older and face high school and college, test scores are used as entrance requirements: for college, for scholarships, for screening for eligibility for college and high school classes, for honor societies, etc. Right now, students qualify for college scholarships primarily through their ACT or SAT scores along with their GPA. Even if your student chooses not to attend college, an ACT/SAT, or a Stanford score, along with a diploma, gives an objective measurement of your student’s achievement. For employers, colleges, military, or anyone considering your student at some future date, a test score gives a comparison of how your student ranks next to other students who have taken the same test. That’s all it does; it helps someone be able to compare apples to apples. If two students take the same test, then their scores give some idea of how those two students may compare academically. Once again, a test is a tool!

If you would prefer to do achievement testing at home, there are some test providers out there who offer the California Achievement Test and TerraNova, and parents are allowed to administer it to their own chiidren in their own homes.   Check out Family Learning Organization, Seton Testing Services, or Thurber’s Educational Assessments.  Bob Jones University Press allows some homeschool parents to give the Iowa to their own students.

As homeschoolers, we do not have to model our schooling after the public or private system. However, we do not know what the Lord has in mind for our children as they move into adulthood. Our family’s goal was to prepare our children with as broad of an education as possible, for whatever the Lord had in mind for them. Of our three children, only the youngest is doing something that we might have predicted from his high school experience.  Their ACT and SAT scores did help them get college scholarships! 

The ACT and SAT are college entrance tests: the American College Testing program and the Scholastic Aptitude Test. These tests are taken by students in high school, perhaps starting as early as 10th grade. The Stanford, the Iowa Assessment, and the California achievement test are graded achievement tests, given from first grade through 11-12th grades.  Both of these tests were given to a large group of students in a certain year, when it was normed. That group of students is the group against which your student will be rated. That large group of students is considered a representative group of 8th graders, or 2nd graders, or whatever. Please realize that from one year to the next, it is NOT the same group of students. The test was normed in one year, and different groups of students took the test at the different grade levels. 

Crossroads hosts the Northeast Alabama Sigma Zeta chapter of the Eta Sigma Alpha National Home School Honor Society. This group uses test scores as part of their entrance requirements: the ACT, SAT, PSAT, and achievement test scores. So, if your 8th grader is interested in membership in this group, it would be good to take the Iowa test to see how they rate in terms of the requirements for this group. And some of the local co-operatives may require test scores as prerequisites for some of their courses. If you are interested in this possibility for your students next fall, please consider having your student take an achievement test this April, as there is a possibility that an achievement test score may be used in determining the level of preparation of students for these high school level courses. Also, Duke University uses achievement test scores in their Talent Identification Program (TIP). They identify high scholastic achievers and allow them to take the ACT at an early age.

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is the test used by the U.S. military to screen recruits.  It is a combination achievement and aptitude test.  Our school allows the ASVAB to be given here every year; it is a free option.  Information on this test is given elsewhere in the January and February newsletters. 

As of school year 2014-15 public high school students in the state of Alabama no longer are required to take the Alabama High School Exit Exam.  Now, theywill be classified as College and Career Ready if they achieve any of the five benchmarks listed below: 

Benchmark score on any section of the ACT test:  English 18; Reading 21; Math 22; Science 24.
Qualifying score on an AP or IB exam.

Approved transcripted college or postsecondary credit while in high school (dual enrollment). 
Benchmark level on the ACT WorkKeys.

Approved industry credential.

I mention this so that you will know that there are other opportunities, besides the ACT, to have an objective measure of your high school student’s achievement.

If you have any questions about testing, or about what I’ve written, please contact me and we can talk directly!