Monday, May 28, 2012

Standardized Testing

I had mentioned on Exam Day that my kids were taking their exams, but I didn't really go into specifics about it. As homeschoolers, WA law states children ages 8 and up must take an annual exam.  The standardized test must be given by a qualified individual.  Another method is the Non-test Assessments which is an assessment made by a Washington State Certified teacher.  These records are part of our private homeschool records and are not given to anyone, unless our children attend a public school later on.

The testing source we use is EduGreat.  They have many locations throughout the spring to serve homeschoolers.  They also have parent qualification classes to qualify parents to homeschool.  The tests we take only covers Reading, Language, and Math.  We (my family) don't test history or science because we don't necessarily follow the states curriculum for their grade levels.  It's about a 3 hour timed test and the results show where they are at compared to the national level of kids in their grade.  If you do want to test history and science there are places that have all the tests and I believe it would be a 2 day process.

There are a lot of testing resources.  Some parents in my homeschool group order the test, administer it to their children and then send it back to be corrected.  What I like about using EduGreat is that I get the results on the same day.  I can even look through the exam booklet with their test to see which problems they got wrong.  This way I can immediately know why they may have gotten the question wrong.  Have they actually learned how to do a certain math problem?  If I know they haven't learned it yet, then I can't fault them for getting it wrong.  There have been times when I knew they should have known the correct answer, but somehow got it wrong.  These tests allow me to know what we need to work on or what they are excelling in .

I was very nervous this year because I didn't feel we prepared enough for the exams.  In the past, we would cram for a few weeks using practice test booklets to see what they should know in their grade level.  This year we barely did that.  My DH doesn't really know what they are learning, so these tests are also a reflection on me as to how I'm doing as their teacher.  So I think I was more nervous than they were.

The test results show the total items in the subject, how many they got correct, stanine score, and percentile rank.  The stanine score tells where they are at compared to the average kid in their grade level.  1-significantly below average, 2-3 below average, 4-6 average, 7-8 above average, 9 significantly above average.

The percentile ranks also tell where they are on the national percentile scale.  These tests are made so that 2/3 of the children taking them should get an average score.  My daughter was 98% on the Math percentile rank which means she got more right than 98% of the children who took the test. It doesn't mean she got 98% of the questions right.  It gets kind of confusing.

Both my kids did great and got 8's and 9's for their stanine scores.  They also ranked in the 90's and up on the percentile rank.  I'm very proud of them for doing so well.  I worry throughout the year, sometimes, if they will remember what they learn or if the information they are given is actually sinking in to their brains.  So far, so good!

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