Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why I Test

Homeschooling in Maine offers several options for 'end of year' evaluation. You can choose a variety of 'test' options and 'portfolio' options.

Last year, for the first time, I opted for the 'portfolio' option. This was an AMAZING experience for me and really helped me to see all that we had accomplished. It ended our school year with more of a celebration feeling rather than a dragging myself over the finish line feeling. I hope to wrap up with something similar this year.

But this year, this week in fact, I am back to testing. I put only a little stock in what these tests will report to me. I don't believe they represent what my kids (and I) are learning. I will pull out Caleb's tests from fourth grade (he did public school in fifth grade, and sixth grade was a portfolio review) and compare a few things - mostly out of curiosity.

I choose to test the kids because tests exist. In our homeschool, we rarely test and quiz. I evaluate largely by one on one observation and careful selection of curriculum. When my kids make their decisions about the future, though, it won't work for Mom to show up at the SSAT and say this is what I've observed my child doing. It won't work for the SAT or the GRE.

I see testing as a supplement to our curriculum. A crash course in test taking - that also happens to satisfy the states requirement for annual evaluation. Those bubbles may not show what we're doing, but they are important tools to know how to handle.

This is my son's fourth fifth experience with the tests. He is taking it in stride, but he didn't during his first experience. I remember loving taking the IOWA tests in school - that's just the kind of learner/performer I was - and the system had primed me to do well. Both he and I learned a lot about each other and ourselves during that first year.

My Anna is having a hard time this week. Her need to have perfect and complete work is being completely kicked in the butt. It is not the first time I have seen this in her, but it is heartbreaking to watch. The bonus about this agony is that I can pray for her during the test, and debrief with her SPECIFICALLY after the test. Both she and Caleb are getting a lot of bonus lessons in test taking strategy while the experience is fresh.

Sofia is also taking tests this week. If you have met her you will understand when I say that test taking isn't a problem for her so much as the fact that she isn't the one administering the tests. :)

1 comment:

Spring said...

I test every few years, for their practice of test taking, and to see if there are any surprises for my benefit. But we still do the portfolio review for the state's report in those years. That way, they kids don't feel too much pressure from the testing, (like "this is being sent to the state to show what you learned") and feel good about pulling together the sampling of all they accomplished all year.