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To test or not to test? Reasons standardized exams may be helpful for homeschoolers

Standardized tests like the IOWA or Stanford provide homeschoolers with helpful info for planning.

Standardized tests like the IOWA or Stanford provide homeschoolers with helpful info for planning. Photobucket/MaretaK

Homeschool testing is often a matter of great concern to homeschool parents. Exams of different sorts are used to qualify homeschoolers to continue learning at home, award scholarships, and determine college entrance status, to name a few.  Here are some responses to the most commonly asked questions about standardized testing related to the status of home educating.  College entrance tests are under a different category, and are usually required for admission.

Are Arizona homeschool students required to be tested?

  • No. Students were once required to test annually with the IOWA test, and parents also had to take the Teacher Proficiency test to have the right to home educate. Arizona has gone through several changes in the public school testing laws, as they endeavored to find a test that would address the varied cultural populations and learning issues within the state. As the laws changed, and homeschoolers continued with a strong record of doing well on the assessments, our testing mandates were dropped. Many parents still do standardized testing for their own benefit, and it is offered through support groups, Covenant Home School Resource Center and private test administrators like myself. The results only go to the parents, never to any school or government officials. One terrific reason for testing is to qualify for scholarships and honor societies.

Why should I test if Arizona does not require it?

  • Standardized testing can give you a benchmark on your child’s abilities and progress. Both IOWA and Stanford tests give a detailed report which can pinpoint areas of strength and difficulty for you to use in your lesson planning.
  • Test taking is a skill that can be developed. It is needed for college entrance, college classes, employment applications, and professional standards for many occupations.
  • The results can give you and the student “bragging rights” <grin>. Most homeschoolers score significantly higher on tests than their public school counterparts. The longer your children are homeschooled, the further ahead they tend to be.
  • Although testing is not required in Arizona, it is in many states. If you move, you will have some documentation to present to state officials.
  • If you plan to have your students go back into a traditional school setting, you may need test scores for proper placement, admission, or to keep the credits earned while at home.
  • Students who score in the 90th percentile or above on any standardized test are eligible to join the homeschool honor society, Eta Sigma Alpha.
  • For families with skeptical relatives, a standardized assessment may be one piece of the proof that you really are doing a good job.

Generally, homeschool groups that offer testing will have spring or summer sessions.  Individual administrators have more flexibility in scheduling, but the cost will be a bit more than with a group setting.

I am offering a workshop on Tuesday, February 9 to discuss the different types of tests, what they measure, when to take them, and how to prepare for them.  The workshop is free, but space is limited, so email me now if you are interested in participating.

Read more for related articles.

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