Sunday, January 8, 2012
This is the first year that my kids will be participating in homeschool standardized tests. It is currently the topic of discussion on our local online homeschool group so I know I am not the only parent with the big "T" on my mind. I have been thinking about this topic for the past month or so trying to decide if I should follow through with testing or not. After weighing the pros and cons, I have decided that this year we will be participating. I don't have the need for my kids to be graded against their peers per say, but I do want to be sure that we are on the right track with national educational goals. If I see that they are low in an area, I can supplement or make some changes to our curriculum.
I am not against testing, just what it has become in the States. In the past, I have been against the idea of standardized testing in public schools because in our experience, the teachers were basically forced to teach the test. I also hate the idea that a school that has higher scores gets more funding... when I hear the words money and government used in the same sentence I cannot help but feel it is an unavoidable corrupt situation. This, yet again, is another reason why I love homeschooling. It is MY choice and I have the freedom to chose what i feel is best for my children.
We do have a few different options as Military home schoolers in Japan. I can either choose to go to our local DOD elementary and middle schools and request that my kids take the test with the rest of the students or I can order a standardized test online, administer it myself and then return it for grading. Brandon has not been to "school" in three years, Aidan only attended one semester of public school and Mia has never stepped foot in a classroom so I feel that I would be setting them up for failure by expecting them to sit quietly with 30 other kids for tests that would last the entire week. I have instead decided to give the California Achievement Test (CAT) myself and send it back to the U.S. to be graded. I am sure some may think that it would be easy to try to help my kids more than they should but if I were to do that then I would only be hurting my kids. If they are truly behind, then I want to know about it and if they are right on track then I want to know about that too!
This month we will be practicing testing skills. This means sitting still and quiet, how to fill in bubbles and comprehension of popular types of testing questions. I will also give them a few sample test questions so that they can see how test questions are worded and how to pick an answer. Proper preparation will help my kids feel more confident and less anxious during the week of our homeschool standardized testing week.