Standardized Testing Options for Homeschoolers
Standardized Testing Options for Homeschoolers
Even though research suggests that homeschool kids are taught exceptionally, and exceed public school standards in many ways (https://hslda.org/docs/news/200908100.asp, 2009), as a parent/teacher we just want that peace of mind. Sometimes we just want to know if what we are teaching our kids is getting through. Are they really learning? How do they compare to kids their same age? Standardized tests are designed to measure what your child is learning and how they compare on a national level and they are also required by some states. It is important to note that laws about testing homeschool children vary per state. So, let’s start there.
In South Carolina, there are three different options to homeschool (Option 1, Option 2, and Option 3 respectively). Depending on the option that you are homeschooling under, the testing requirements vary.
With Option 1 you are required to test annually. Your child must take both the annual statewide testing program and the Basic Skills Assessment Program. The tests must be administered by a certified school district employee and are taken at a public school. You must contact a local school to arrange to test ahead of time.
To find out more about tests public school children are taking and at what grade level, visit this link. https://ed.sc.gov/tests/
With Option 2, SCAIHS requires annual testing for students in grades 3-11. Acceptable tests include SAT, ACT, PSAT, ITBS (Iowa Test of Basic Skills), Stanford, Terra Nova 2 / CAT6, Woodcock-Johnson (schomeschooling.com/homeschooling-faq/).
With Option 3, you are NOT required to test unless the umbrella program you belong to states it in their requirements for membership.
In Georgia, the law requires that children take a national standardized achievement test every 3 years, beginning at the end of third grade. These tests are to be kept on file for 3 years but do not have to be submitted to public school authorities. No exam is required when students are exiting high school. (http://www.ghea.org/pages/testing/law.php)
Overall, the homeschooling parent is responsible for the cost of the test and having their children tested. The state does not provide this service unless you are a South Carolina Option 1 Homeschooler.
So now that we know about legal requirements, let’s talk about choices in standardized testing.
With testing there are so many decisions;
Do you want to test on paper or online?
Some kids do better with a paper and pencil format while others prefer not to have to use a pencil. But you must remember to follow the standardized tests guidelines. Some only allow a certified person to test students, while others require you to have a degree if you want to give the pen and paper test yourself. Also, consider that online tests are usually graded way faster than paper tests. You may be waiting for 1-2 months for the results of a paper test.
What subjects do you want to test?
Some tests include science or social studies & geography and others don’t. Don’t change to a new test every few years or you won’t be able to track improvement. Most tests scores are not easily compared because they use different grading standards. Some test will penalize a child for wrong answers and others will only give points for correct answers.
What grade is your student in?
High School students may need to take the SAT (not the Stanford 10) or other state/college specific test if they are planning on attending that college or university.
Tests for Students Attending College
American College Test or ACT – a standardized test used for college admissions. 6th grade and up, www.actstudent.org No penalty for guessing so answer all the questions
Scholastic Achievement Test, SAT – another standardized test used for college admission. 11th Grade students (no minimum age required to take the test, recommended students have taken Algebra I and Geometry). Covers Math, English, Reading and Science. Do not guess on this test, incorrect responses hurt your score. www.collegeboard.org
PSAT – Preliminary SAT for 10th graders (October each year, local high school, fees and how to register. www.collegeboard.org/psat/student/htmal/index001.html
Common Standardized Tests
Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS)
This standardized achievement test evaluates thinking skills. This test takes less time to administer than the Stanford but is among the most difficult tests. You must have a bachelor’s degree to administer the test and testing directions are free, you return the test for grading by the supplier. Tests are given orally through up to 2nd grade.
Stanford Achievement Test (SAT)
A standardized test for K-12 which also tests listening skills up to 8th grade. The test administrator must have a bachelor’s degree, plus meet additional test administering guidelines. The test has strict guidelines that must be followed when testing any relative. You must buy the qualifications for test administrators and directions for administration.
California Achievement Test (CAT)
This test contains more traditional/religious values than other tests. Parents administer the test and send it back to be scored and returned. You must request the type of scoring you would like (percentile scoring and /or stanine results) or you will only receive raw scores and grade equivalents. This test is for 2nd to 12th grade.
California Achievement Test (CAT/5 or TerraNova CAT 6)
These are updated versions of the CAT. For grades K-12; tests reading, language, spelling, mathematics, study skills, science and social studies.
Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS)
This test includes all academic areas including reading, language arts, spelling, math, science, social studies and reference skills for 1st to 12th grade. With the scores, you also receive a professional critique.
Personalized Achievement Summary System (PASS)
This test was developed specifically for homeschoolers. It estimates student achievement in the subjects of reading, language, and math. For 3rd to 8th grade.
More info about these tests here: https://www.ghea.org/pages/testing/standardizedTests.php
With the knowledge about what the tests cover you can find the correct place either online or locally that will administer the tests, you are interested in.
National Testing Sources
Offers Iowa and Stanford Tests, online or paper test options, $25-$45 depending on the test and version. www.abekatesting.org, 1-888-722-0044
Offers online and paper versions of the CAT test. $25. www.academicexcellence.com , 1-866-960-9331
Bob Jones University Testing
Iowa Tests and Stanford 10 Test, paper versions, costs depend on if you are buying ordering scoring. www.bjupress.com , 1-800-845-5731
PASS Test, paper version $37. www.hewitthomeschooling.com , 1-800-348-1750
Homeschool Testing Services
Stanford 10, online or paper, $44. www.homeschooltestingservices.com,
Offers many tests. Iowa Tests, paper copies rented for $29-$39. CAT paper test $29, TerraNova 2/CAT 6 paper version, $43, Stanford 10, Online $40 (results in approximately 2 days). www.setontesting.com , 1-800-542-1066
Local Testing Sources
Classical Conversations Co-Op Group
If you belong to Classical Conversations, they perform group testing yearly, you just pay the test fee and they take care of the rest. https://www.classicalconversations.com/classical/academic-services/homeschool-testing-services
CSRA Homeschool Educators Association (CSRA HEA)
This Christian homeschool support group allows you to test your child for around $20 a child once a year. The membership fee is $20. www.csrahea.org, 762-233-5432
I hope this article is helpful to you in picking the test that is appropriate for you and your family. Remember that this is not an extensive list, but a way to start looking into testing of your homeschooled child. Also, keep in mind that I only covered the laws for the states briefly, you need to read over your state laws about homeschooling and follow that guideline.
If you know of any other local group that offers testing, please let us know so we can add them to this list. Thank you!