Testing To Comply

Preparing for state tests while using an alternative learning method...

If you educate your children at home and your state requires testing, but you have chosen to use an alternative learning method, testing may become a concern for you.

How can you prepare for a state required test while staying true to your chosen educational method?

When I homeschooled in a state that required testing, I sat down and talked to my daughter about the things we needed to do in order to be able to stay compliant with our state's regulations, and offered her the following choices:

  1. She could practice for the test by using various websites and/or worksheets to gain an understanding of what would be on the test, and how they would want answers to be entered.
  2. She could take the test and do the best she could without being familiar with the information they were asking on the test.
  3. She could fill in the bubbles randomly and hope to obtain the state's minimum requirement in order to stay compliant so we could continue our home instruction program.

She decided to prepare for the test, so we used various websites to gain an understanding of the material that would be on it. Since we were able to chose the test, we went through SetonTesting Services and decided on the CAT E for her grade level. When we received the test, I read it through and it encouraged the educator to prepare the student for the test 1 month before taking it, but the student wasn't supposed to look at it before test day. Knowing what was on the test, I put each testing area into the search engine, viewed the various sites for what they had to offer and gave it to her to work on. When she felt ready to move on, she did. It was up to her to retain the information and do the best she could. By testing standards, she did very well and never had to test again because we moved to state that didn't require testing!

The other options...

Taking the test without knowing the information is completely up to each individual family, but getting an idea of what's on it won't hurt if it is taken from a perspective of curiosity. Finding ways to cover the information may be fun, especially if your state doesn't require the test to be submitted, only retained for records. If the state does not require a specific percentile, does it really matter what the grade is? Once the test has been taken, the student is in compliance. If other parents within your homeschool group use an alternative education method, ask them how they handle testing.

If the test doesn't matter to you in the least, but you must take it to stay compliant, then fill in the bubbles any way you like, submit the test, put the results away w/o looking at them and throw them away when they are no longer needed.

If your state's requirements say that a certain percentile needs to be submitted, and you want to use an alternative learning method throughout the year, then you have some decisions to make. The percentiles are usually ridiculously low, and there is often an probationary period of one year, and a chance to retest if things don't work out, but you can always retest before submitting your year-end paper work to make sure there is a passing grade. Only send the information you have to and never more then you need to.

Things to consider...

If your child is going to go to college, they may be interested in taking a minor test before they take an SAT-type test or GED. There are test prep books and sites you can use for practice if needed. Some libraries offer online test prep to their patrons for free.

If you are planning to take the test in truth, take the time to talk about: how to take the test, how to eliminate answers, how to look for tricky questions, to move on when stumped and to stay alert because the answer to one question may be in the question of another.

If you are required to take the test and are not worried about the results, consider invalidating the test in some way: give extra time, make the test a group effort, purchase a test for a lower grade, fill in the bubbles randomly, or some other creative way.

Keep in mind that testing really doesn't prove anything, and that the results do not need to be taken seriously because they do not show how intelligent a person is, nor do they prove understanding.

If you live in a state that does not require testing, consider this question: Why test if you don't have to?

Resources...

Catpin Productions offers a bubble test generator to practice with.

Scholastic: Preparingfor Standardized Test – get tips and suggestions for test taking.

Placement test for LanguageArts/English - Download

Placement test for Math - Download

For more test prep resources, check with your local library. Most libraries offer their card-holding patrons free access to practice materials.


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