Standardized Testing

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Last week, my children took their annual standardized tests at our umbrella school in Knoxville. In Tennessee, one can sign up under the local school district, or with an umbrella school. Umbrella schools come in different shapes, forms and sizes. Some are remote places that will not require much of you in exchange for the piece of paper which shows that you are not truant.

Terra Nova 3 test prep materials

Test Prep books we used – our test is called Terra Nova 3.

Others are local brick-and-mortar schools with a homeschool umbrella program. As such, they will give your child a diploma when high school graduation comes around. The diploma will not even mention the word “homeschool,” which makes the umbrella school hold parents to a high standard. Many such local umbrella schools require annual testing.  Continue reading »

Our umbrella school, Berean Christian School in Knoxville, requires testing starting in second grade, with an optional test in first grade. I know people who are not registered officially to homeschool for fear that their children will be required to test. The conspiracy theories abound among such people. That their children will freeze and not score high or, on the contrary, do a great job, but the test providers will give them a bad score, which forces the parents to put them in public school etc.

I have made up my mind that I will not be truant. We live in a free world, governed by laws. As long as I follow the law of the land, I want to believe that nobody will come knocking on my door to ask for my children. I have documentation on hand which shows we are registered legally for homeschooling in the State of Tennessee.

And if testing shows my children do not score well, then I am the first one to put them in a different academic environment or the change what we are doing. But, as it turns out, my children score well. We will only know the results of these tests in April, I think. Judging from the previous two years, we should be fine this year, too.

This year, one of my children said the test was “very easy.” The other one had time to draw three pages of detailed comics during the test – they finished that much ahead of the allotted time. So I am not worried.

We like to cover a lot of material before the test even though it is not an end-of-year test. This is simply a preparation for the ACT or SAT – whichever we will decide to take once college plans must be made. It is also a tool for me to know if we are doing a good job or not. If we have gaps in our knowledge, we had better know about it, right?


It Is Time to Embrace Online Education

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It is time to forget about schools, universities, colleges and fully embrace online education. This might sound crazy, but it is probably the way we’re heading in the future anyway. Ten or twenty years from now, I do not think there will be many schools left where to send your kids.

Apple computer

The technology needed for online classes does not lack in a middle class family.

 

If there are, they certainly will not be anything like they are now. But even if the standard education system does continue to live on, perhaps it is time we rejected it and here is why.

 

It Is Dangerous

It is hard to disagree that schools and colleges have become dangerous places for children and students. Over the past few years we have seen tragic shootings, horrific acts of violence, sex scandals, drug epidemics and much more. It seems clear that schools are no longer safe for children and that is not even taking into account the level of bullying present in the education system. Continue reading »

Did you know one in twelve teenagers self harm and it is usually due to bullying at school? This should certainly make you think twice about sending your kids into what is essentially a minefield of hazards. As for college level, why head to college where we know there are frat houses and hazings? Instead, you can cut out the nonsense and get all the knowledge from an online course.

 

It Does Not Provide Better Results

You might think that by sending your kids to school and paying for onsite college education they are getting a better deal. Many people argue it leads to better future prospects but this is no longer the case. Firstly, online degrees now offer the same level of teaching as one of the top colleges in the country.

If you have a look at a resource like Fresno Pacific University Online, you will see they offer plenty of courses designed to give students the knowledge they need to excel in business. Even your local community college might offer online degrees.

As for homeschooling, with the right plan in place, you can ensure your child gets the grades to follow whatever future they want. If you look at the exam scores of schools in your area, you might be surprised by the alternative they provide. It is fair to say that standards in education have dropped over the last few years.

 

It Is Too Expensive

If we are thinking purely about higher education, we need to look at the cost. The average university leaves students in debt that amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars. This can take years to pay off and that is if you get a good enough job. Most graduates find it takes up to year to find a position where they can even start to think about paying off this debt.

On the opposite side of the line, online university fees are minimal thanks to little overhead. So, you can get a great degree without the absurd fees charged by your standard college.

 

The Technology Needed Is Here

Finally, it is no longer necessary for kids or students to sit in classrooms all day. Internet speeds are fast enough for live feeds that can be broadcast straight into the home. In most classes, kids are surfing the net researching anyway, and they can do that at home where they are safe. As for students’ using technology, we can help them learn independently while still having the support there when they need it.

There is really no longer any reason to support in-school education or the colleges that drive young people into debt before they even begin their adult career. It is time for a change.