Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Week of Standardized Testing -- ACK!

This week, Tiny Girl is wading through the CAT/5.  There are ten separate tests, and we're doing two per day.  She proclaimed yesterday's tests "easy"; they were word analysis and vocabulary.  Right now, she's struggling with the spelling test.  Spelling is not her strong suit.  There's been a bit of wailing and teeth-gnashing in the last few minutes.

I can relate.  I understand the word analysis, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and arithmetic as necessary evils of a standardized test; but spelling?  It's difficult, as her mother-teacher, to know that we haven't covered all these words or spelling rules, yet she has to undergo testing on them anyway. It's a set-up to fail.

I'm not a big fan of standardized tests, anyway.  Since our home education model differs greatly from the public school model, our material doesn't coincide with theirs.  But in our state, homeschooled children are required to take some sort of nationally-recognized standardized test every three years, starting in third grade.

There are a few options.  Many homeschool stores and hybrid "homeschool" schools (two days per week of instruction; assignments completed at home) offer ITBS (Iowa Test of Basic Skills) testing on their premises for a reasonable cost.  Last year, I planned for Miss Priss to take the test in this fashion, but she vehemently objected.  She did not want to go to another location, sit in a room with other unfamiliar homeschool students, and take a test administered by an unknown proctor for two days, three hours per day.  She had a point.

After a bit of online research, I located Family Learning Organization, a company in Spokane that offers consultation, assessment, and standarized achievement testing services to homeschoolers.  I signed up, and they sent me everything I needed to administer the third-grade CAT/5 (California Achievement Test) to my child at our home, where she is most comfortable.  Since I was able to keep the materials for two weeks, we could do reasonable portions of the test over a longer period of time.  After she completed the test, I sent everything back, and two weeks later, we received her scores and a report.  The whole process was smooth and satisfactory, much better than sending my third-grader to an unfamiliar location to take a daunting examination.  We'll save that for the SAT, right?

Besides, I doubt seriously any testing facility would provide Raspberry Zinger tea and Burton's Rich Tea Biscuits for the students to enjoy as they filled in the little answer bubbles.


  1. Ah, got to love the standardized tests. (Not!) My DD has hers coming up in a couple of weeks. Sounds like the tea and biscuits makes the experience better.

  2. Great for you. Could you give the test to my little ones when the time comes? I'll supply the tea and cookies. ;-)


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