Crossroads Christian School does not require that your homeschooled students be tested. However, we do provide the opportunity if you desire it. Last year, we were still able to obtain the Stanford 10. Checking to see if that is still possible this year! If not, we hope to have made a decision on what test we will be using, by the time of the faculty meetings next week. Our testing week is scheduled for April 24-27.
Testing your students is a personal decision. 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!
As homeschoolers, we do not have to model our schooling after the public or private system. But there is a certain degree of uncertainty in life, and we don’t always know what our children will be doing as they move into adulthood. So consider preparing them with a broad base of knowledge and experience as possible. And testing is part of that experience.
Also, IF your students return to public school at some point before graduation, a number of high schools require semester testing for any academic credits you are claiming (English, math, science, history). However, IF your students have a recent test score, that requirement may be waived.
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 California (or Terra Nova), the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, etc. are graded achievement tests, given from first grade through 11-12th grades. These tests are given to a large group of students before it is released to the general public, and norming scores are obtained. 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. So if you give the test each year, and want to compare your student’s individual progress, the scaled score is the score you use to find out that piece of information.
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 Stanford test to see how they rate in terms of the requirements for this group. And some of the local co-ops 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.
Alabama public high school students are no longer required to take the Alabama High School Exit Exam. Now, they are 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 student’s achievement
If you have any questions about testing, or about what I’ve written, please contact me and we can talk directly!