Many states require annual standardized testing for homeschooled students. Research what each test entails to determine which test would best suit your child. The test content of most versions is nationally standardized. Check with your own state’s Board of Education to understand your state’s homeschool requirements and which testing formats are accepted.
When choosing an achievement test, consider which tests offer features that suit your child. Some tests are given in a group setting by a test administrator. Other tests can be ordered, shipped, and then administered at home by parents. Cost is another consideration, as is the assessment process each test format offers.
Types of Standardized Achievement Tests
Numerous standardized tests can used to meet homeschool testing requirements. Three of the most popular tests used differ somewhat in format and are widely available. If possible, try using the same testing format from year to year to better chart your child’s learning scores.
California Achievement Test – this multiple choice test assesses children on language arts and math skills. The CAT breaks the testing into five categories that incorporate spelling, reading comprehension, language mechanics, math concepts, and practical math applications. An optional science and social studies portion is also available. Tests can be purchased online and administered at home by parents. The test process is relatively short and children that are more comfortable in their regular home setting sometimes prefer this format.
Iowa Test of Basic Skills – The ITBS is a lengthier test, usually taking two to three days to complete. The test covers vocabulary, word analysis, listening, language skills, math, science, and social studies. Test administrators must meet certain qualifications, and oftentimes the tests are given at a local school or testing center in a group setting.
Woodcock-Johnson Test – The Woodcock-Johnson, commonly referred to as WJ-III, is a testing alternative for families who prefer more personalized testing. The test assesses intellectual ability, cognitive ability, oral skills, academic achievement, and scholastic aptitude. Much of this test is in oral format, and bubble-in answers are not required. The test is given by a test proctor that has been trained in administering the WJ-III. Contact your local homeschool support groups for WJ-III contact referrals.
Test Prep and Alleviating Anxiety
Preparing for a large end-of-year test can loom over children and create test anxiety. Stress and anxiety can inhibit the brain’s cognitive functions and disrupt clear thinking, according to the American School Counselor Association. Help your child to eliminate test anxiety with careful test preparation and by exemplifying a good natured attitude toward the test.
Don’t neglect the obvious, such as helping your children get enough rest the night before, and offering them a healthy, substantial breakfast the day of the test. Verbally encourage them and don’t overemphasize test results. Remember that tests are just one form of assessment and should not interfere with your child’s well-being. Use homeschool testing as a navigational tool on your family’s homeschool journey.