Monday, March 5, 2012

Blog Cruise: Yes, we test

Blog Cruise time again.  I really want to be participating in these, but somehow it always sneaks past me.  Yes, I've said that before and I'm saying it again... You can read what I have to say... and come back tomorrow to see what other TOS Homeschool Crew members wrote by clicking on the button...

The question:  Do you administer standardized testing in your homeschool? Why or why not?

I think I'm going to be the oddball here, as it seems most homeschoolers are fairly anti-standardized testing.

A good friend posted a statement on her blog cruise post Testing is (ridiculous? valuable? worthless? important?) for Homeschoolers... something about asking 10 different homeschoolers about standardized testing and you'll get 15 opinions.  She nailed that one.  Hey, I might actually be able to hold 15 opinions on this topic all by myself.
  • On the one hand, at least with older kids, I do see the value in learning to take standardized tests.  This isn't a skill that is solely a part of group education.  Many jobs have tests of some sort (the CPA exam, to name one I had to take; or the various tests my husband had to do to get his Commercial Driver's License).  Many jobs also include some sort of testing, especially now when training doesn't have to take place in a central location.  Training sessions can be recorded, made available via download or a website... and the company wants some means of checking to be sure you actually watched it.  A basic test pretty much covers that.  I've had to do tests to verify that I have watched the training sessions for Boy Scouts too.  
  • On the other hand, I resent being required to send test results in to meet state requirements (there are other options in Colorado, but that isn't the topic of this post!)  The schools aren't doing such a fabulous job themselves, and I react to the idea of them having any sort of oversight.
  • But then, doing the standardized tests does give me some useful information.  Not much, mind you.  But some.  It was a big red flag for me that my oldest really was having an issue with spelling.  I knew it on some level, but the standardized test turned that vague feeling into certainty.
  • Fortunately, I live in a state that doesn't require testing until 3rd grade.  I think standardized tests for reasonably normal K-2 students are absolutely worthless.  (Now, doing testing for extremely gifted younger kids, that I think has some value.)
  • Reality is that most colleges are going to require something like an SAT or ACT, and these standardized tests are a low-stake way to get used to the testing process.
  • But it irks me that I can't submit those SAT or ACT scores instead of one of the other tests.  Why can't I actually get test results that help me (and my child)?
  • And, of course, there are all the issues of "teaching to the test" which is something I don't do. 

The bottom line for me and my family, though, is that standardized tests are one way of meeting our state requirements, and it is the option we choose. 

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