Many homeschoolers that don’t live in a state where annual testing (or umbrella schools) are required, toss around the idea of testing. Our family found ourselves in the same position several years ago. Texas homeschoolers are considered private schools. We are not required to test our children or use specific curriculum. For many families that prefer a “relaxed education”, this fits perfectly with their needs.
I have met families that sit on both sides of the “to test or not to test” fence. Some people feel that testing pressures their children too much. Others feel that testing is necessary to gauge comprehension. My husband was on the “not to test fence” for most of our early homeschooling life. I was unsure.
Three years ago, a friend (a former college math professor & homeschooler) offered to conduct the Bob Jones University ITBS (Iowa Test of Basic Skills) for our local homeschooling community. As our then 3rd grade child had never been tested, I thought it would be a good time to see where we were academically. I bought a Spectrum test preparation booklet and reviewed with my child the subjects that would be covered (which I found online).
The test took 3 days to complete. It took over a month to get back the results. My husband and I were happy with most of the subjects (REALLY happy with some) and shocked to see that we were doing horribly in Grammar/Spellling. I had an idea that these were not our strong subjects. Now, I had something to base my feelings on. We needed to work harder in this area.
This is where I think that the homeschoolers that don’t choose to test, are short-changing themselves. No one sees the results except the testing family. Without testing, we would have never seen our educational strengths & weaknesses. It was a real eye-opener.
We waited until we had completed 5th grade to test again. It was amazing to compare the results from the prior test to the current ones. Where had we improved the most over the last 2 years? In Grammar and vocabulary. Could this be a coincidence? Hardly. The current results also told us that we needed to work more on Capitalization, Spelling, and Multiplication. How wonderful is it to have someone say: “You are doing great in these areas. However, more study is needed in…”
Will I keep testing? You bet! As we are now doing Junior High homeschooling, I think annual testing is needed. We are looking at college in about 6 years. Knowing what colleges are looking for and staying “one step ahead” is a blessing. I believe that using the Stanford or ITBS gives homeschoolers that extra help to prepare for the future. These tests are better than a report card. The results give a detailed summary of where are childrens’ strengths and weaknesses lie. What a great tool to have.
Wonder what our eclectic family is using for our 6th grade curriculum? We are using:
- Heath Pre-Algebra & Algebra
- Wordly Wise
- Spelling Power
- Wordsmith Apprentice
- Great Exploration in Editing (proofreading skills)
- Squire & the Scroll + One Year Book of Devotions for Kids
- Sonlight & Veritas Press readers, BJU Reading 6
- Spanish is Fun, Cuaderno de ejercicios
- Apologia General Science
- BJU English, Writing & Grammar
- BJU History 6, Story of the World, Beautiful Feet
- Glencoe/National Geographic Geography 7
- Easy Grammar
- Usborne Art books + Glencoe Exploring Art
- Classical Guitar
- Kuk Sool Won Martial Arts
- Boy Scouts & Young Marines
Watching your pennies and need to find curriculum for a fraction of the price? Check out my list of places to buy/sell curriculum to the right of this article.