Monday, May 5, 2014

Why I Don't Loathe Standardized Testing

The words "standardized testing" can fill any mom with dread, but, now that we are homeschoolers, I don't think the big bad end-of-grade tests must be so cringe-worthy!

It seems in traditional schools that end-of-grade tests are the hottest topic for teachers all year long. All. Year. Long. Oh, how I don't envy those teachers!

For me, it's just not a big deal.

I'm paraphrasing here, but C16 shared with me after a homeschool conference session that he attended without me something that made me say "aha!" The speaker compared standardized testing in traditional schools to "the tail wagging the dog" instead of "the dog wagging its tail." Now that analogy makes a lot of sense to me and I agree whole-heartedly.
  1. I don't let it consume me, my students or my school.
    Testing takes a couple hours a day for one week a year and that's it. In previous years I had them practice with an inexpensive test prep workbook, but I don't think they need to do that every year.
  2. In my state I get to choose the test we take (Iowa Test so far), when we take it (usually July but this year they took it in April) and what grade level to test at.
  3. My kids need to learn how to take a test... how to fill in a bubble sheet, how to pace themselves, how to skip a problem that is tricky and come back to it later, how to make a best guess when unsure of an answer... because testing, whether we like it or not, is part of life.
  4. I don't want my kids to hate tests... to be afraid of them... to think they aren't good at tests... because, well, why make something miserable when it can be tackled with confidence?
  5. I enjoy seeing their progress day to day, year to year, by working alongside them in their schooling, but it's also nice to get an annual core card to see how we are doing.
    I'll admit that I look forward to getting those score sheets back in the mail each year.
  6. Test results might reveal strengths and weaknesses that I might overlook.I expected the first round of tests to reveal that my boys were were strongest in science and math, but it turns out that, while they do fine in those subjects, they're rock stars at vocabulary. I don't think my boys and I would have noticed just how much they excel at that one subject if it hadn't been pointed out to me. Spelling, however... well, it's a good thing we discovered All About Spelling to help with that subject!
The PSAT will be on our calendar for October, then the SAT is soon to follow. Drivers license tests will be coming shortly as well. I want to prepare my kids to take an occasional test, but it does not take over our homeschool. 

Testing is not the most important part of my homeschool, but it does matter a little. 

What are your thoughts on standardized tests?

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