If your child is in grade 3, 5 or 8, the home education law requires that you include in your child’s portfolio the results (scores) for the reading/language arts and mathematics sections of the standardized achievement test your child has taken during the year.
- The parents of the child cannot administer the test.
- CHAP maintains a list of test administrators.
- You can choose from 11 tests.
- HSLDA offers test sources and advice here.
- Many homeschoolers purchase the California Achievement Test (CAT), printed or online, from Christian Liberty.
- If taken online, the computer is considered to be the administrator.
- You can test any time of the year.
- Testing can be spread out over several days.
Some homeschool groups offer testing opportunities. Check with local homeschool groups and private schools.
The Good News:
Your child is not required to achieve a minimum score in order to be allowed to continue homeschooling.
It is impossible to pass or fail a standardized test.
A standardized test is a little like measuring your child’s height. We can compare your son with other children his age, but we can also compare his measurements over time to see his growth. No growth might be cause for a little concern. Shrinking would be cause for major concern! Over the course of time, growth is expected, and that’s true for standardized tests, too.
Achievement tests measure subject-specific knowledge. If your daughter knows how to multiply two-digit numbers, that will be reflected on her test score. If she knows the proper use of a question mark, that will be reflected, too.
It’s impossible to cram for a standardized test.
The best preparation is just to maintain a steady pace of learning over the years. Have your child practice answering multiple-choice questions and taking timed tests. Make it fun!
Throughout the year, mention testing to your child, and try to give them some idea of what to expect. If they ask questions about testing that you can’t answer, do your homework and find out—from other homeschool parents, your support group leader, or a test administrator.
As I have tested homeschooled students over the past 28 years, I have rarely seen a parent who was surprised at their child’s scores. You probably know if your third grader is advanced in math but has some difficulty with spelling. Or maybe she loves to read, but she’s struggling with her multiplication facts. Test scores can point out areas to focus on in the future, but they can’t replace your own observations.