Standardized tests often get a bad rap. They're the big bad wolf of the mainstream-education world. While I'm not arguing that they don't have their faults, they do serve a purpose. As long as the purpose of standardized tests doesn't trump your vision for your homeschool, they can be an excellent tool for strengthening your students.
Even though I live in a state that doesn't require standardized tests, I still make sure my kids get tested at least every other year. As the overseer of their education, I have the privilege of deciding what we do with the results. My funding does not rely upon my students getting great scores, so I don't have to "teach to the test" as public schools might.
I was given free access to Affordable Homeschool Testing Solutions and compensated for my time in writing this post. All opinions are my own. See my full disclosure policy for more details.
Affordable Homeschool Testing Solutions
At the end of the fall semester, we tried out Measures of Academic Progress® (MAP®) Tests, an online standardized test which is nationally normed and assesses student growth. They took three tests, one each day with a different emphasis in reading, math, and language usage (optional).
Each student had their own device to test with, and the beauty of these tests is that they are adaptive to the student. If they get questions right, the questions get harder. The same happens if they get questions wrong. This really helps pinpoint where your student's strengths and weaknesses are.
If used well, standardized tests can strengthen what you're already doing at home. The results will give you insight on what you need to strengthen and what you might need to put on the back burner for a while. Thankfully there are some excellent options out there for homeschoolers that are painless and affordable! Here are 5 reasons standardized tests strengthen your homeschool:
1. Get Experience with Standardized Tests
Standardized tests are really a secret tool for homeschoolers. If your student dreams of going to college one day, they can take the SAT or ACT and have access to the same schools that public schoolers have. There are scholarships for high test scores. Without experience in test taking, making the scores to get them into the college they want is not likely, much less getting their continued education paid for by someone else.
Generally, these tests are built off of the same principles, meaning that if you learn the logic behind the test, you can learn the test. The more you take these kinds of tests the better you will get, which generally leads to higher test scores.
But it's not all about beating the game. There is a lot to learn from standardized tests.
2. Gain Insight On Weak Areas
We all have them. Areas of weakness can be challenging to identify when you have multiple students you're overseeing. It gets even trickier when you have kids that are good at being cute and hiding their faults.
Maybe it's just me, but I appreciate having insight into weak areas that I can come along side and shore up. Although most of the time I generally know where they stand, the results that come from Affordable Homeschool Testing Solutions not only show you the big picture standings, but they also go into incredible depth of areas to focus on for improvement.
3. Gain Insight On Strengths
Sometimes you'll find areas in the results that you've been spending a lot of time working on, and the effort has paid off. Generally these are areas that both of you enjoy. If they distract you from shoring up their weaknesses, maybe you need to back off a little.
Knowing strengths can also encourage you to build upon a strong foundation. My son tested exceptionally well. When I went to check on him during the test, he was holding his guitar—he said it calmed him down. We wondered why the questions were getting so hard until we got his results back.
This encouraged me to get him in an SAT Prep class so that he can work to get a good score on his PSAT or SAT and get scholarships for college.
4. Standards Might Change
Even though Texas currently doesn't require standardized testing, it doesn't mean it will always be that way. By taking the test now, I'm giving my kids experience in taking them while there isn't any pressure for results. I shouldn't just avoid the tests because it's not required.
5. Painless Online Solutions
With Affordable Homeschool Testing Services, you can take standardized tests in the comfort of your own home. The great news is that you don't have to have a college degree to give this test to your kids. After you schedule your appointment, all you have to do on the day of the test is answer the phone when your administrator calls. She gets everything set for you and troubleshoots any problems that come up.
I had five students testing in my home that day spanning from 2nd grade to 10th grade. All you need to test multiple students is a separate device for each. Three had computers, and two tested on iPads. Other than that, all you need is internet access and a quiet testing environment.
A last minute trip came up for me and my son on the final day of testing. He was able to hop on the test at our cabin and get it done without missing the test or the trip. This is the beauty of homeschooling right?!
If you have never tested your kids, I encourage you to make an appointment today. If you have scheduling conflicts with the times available, they can work with you to find a time that works. I was thoroughly pleased with the experience, and all of my kids had a positive testing experience - even my struggling reader.
Cost: 1st student $60, 2nd student $50, 3+ students $45. Optional Language Usage test $10/student
Get $5 off when you book your appointment with coupon code MAPTest17; expires 7/5/17.
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