Last week, the kiddos took their annual standardized achievement test. We have done this for five years now. Our umbrella school makes it optional for first grade, but they ask that you bring them in for testing starting in second grade and on.
Well, we wanted them tested in first grade, too. There is a lot of water under the bridge between kindergarten and second grade. So we have been doing it for five years and use the results to help us in planning the following school year.
We do not stress too much about this test. Of course, we prepare for it, but we do not make it into a big deal. It is an assessment of their mastery of different learning objectives. As such, it paints a picture of growth areas and strengths.
Homeschoolers do not need to be tested often. The reason they test in public schools is because the teachers need an idea of where everybody stands. When you have 25 students in your class, you do not know for sure who knows what. So testing comes in, every nine weeks, every Friday, or however often they do it.
A homeschooling teacher knows exactly what her students know. We have one or two students. The brave have more and more power to them. But even the mother of five children knows exactly which one of her students reads above grade level and which one struggles with the multiplication tables.
These achievement tests serve another important function: they help prepare the kids for taking the ACT and the SAT later on. Managing your time, pacing yourself, coming back to difficult questions, leaving yourself a few minutes at the end for review, these are all test-taking skills and they do not just happen overnight.
My children do not stress about the test. They just know that on these two days in March, instead of doing school at home, we drive to Berean Christian School and they sit in a classroom with other children and write in a workbook.
Now we are ready for spring break. One week of nothing to do, besides piano, violin, orchestra, tae kwon do, and art class. I need it just as much as they do.