See How Well Your Child is Doing in Math with Informal Methods or a Math Placement Test
Parents and teachers alike sometimes have “math anxiety” when teaching the subject, and part of that may be due to uncertainty as to where a student is really performing in math. After all, any adult who is in charge of educating a child does not want to present material that is so challenging as to be frustrating or even overwhelming, but at the same time, material that is too easy can be demeaning or simply just boring. In either case, in addition to affecting a child’s self-confidence and motivation, important instructional time can be lost.
Homeschooled children may not be tested nearly as much as children in traditional schools. In fact, some states do not require homeschoolers to be tested at all while others require an annual standardized test or some other formalized measure of performance. Check with your state’s homeschooling laws to find out its standardized testing requirements. Regardless of whether such standardized testing is required or not, you may need more specific assessment of math skills to determine where to start and how to best teach your child. In addition to some informal methods of assessing your child’s math skills, a homeschool math placement test may be the way to go.
If you search “math placement test” on the Internet, you will likely find a lot of information on testing for new arrivals to college. Placement tests are often used by colleges to determine which English/composition and math courses are appropriate for incoming students. Some high school graduates, for example, need to reinforce skills through pre-college-level courses prior to being successful in college-level courses. What we will focus on here, rather, are math placement tests that can be used pre-K to grade 12 to help you—as a homeschooler—determine where your child is in relation to grade-level peers, standards, and/or curriculum objectives.
What math is on a math placement test? Math placement tests are designed to cover a range of topics across levels of difficulty. Typically, they offer questions that span several grade levels, and some of the questions will be on topics to which your child has never been exposed. Can you fail a math placement test? No, your child cannot fail a math placement test because the point is only to determine where your child is performing. There is no need for your child to study or prepare for a homeschool math placement test. Basically, your child takes the test, knowing that some of the questions will be too easy and some will be too hard, and then the test is scored to determine proper “placement.” The result is better information for you to determine where your child is starting and what to do to help your child succeed in math.
|Free Math Placement Tests to Determine a Child’s Math Level|
|Math Placement Resources|
How to Determine Math Level Informally at Home
There are a number of ways that you can assess your child’s math levels at home without giving a standardized math assessment or formal math placement test. Here are a few types of math assessments that can be used in your homeschool:
Diagnostic Assessment: This is essentially a pre-test you give your child prior to learning a particular topic or set of topics. Diagnostic assessment allows you to capture strengths, challenges, prior knowledge, misconceptions, and skill levels. This could be a formal pre-test, but in your homeschool, diagnostic assessment can take the form of brainstorming, checking for knowledge of math vocabulary, or trying a few sample problems.
Formative Performance-Based Assessment: Maybe you want to know whether your child is understanding the current instruction. In formative performance-based assessment, you ask your child to do exactly the task that is to be measured, such as weighing and measuring objects, constructing an example to prove a math concept, making change, etc. You can observe and take notes, and you can score the accuracy for that particular type of problem. Then you can determine whether or not to move onto the next topic.
Rubric Assessment: Rubrics are often used for grading “hard-to-grade” assignments like artwork and projects. In math, rubrics can involve observing your child’s use of mathematical reasoning to solve problems. Using a rubric can help you figure out your child’s performance on a variety of qualitative factors like identifying the proper operation, performing calculations accurately, following steps of a procedure, and self-checking. Rubrics can help you determine exactly what parts of problem solving are challenging for your child.
Summative Assessment: Perhaps you want to find out whether your child has mastered all the kinds of problems in a particular lesson or unit. You can design (or find) a summative assessment that will provide both of you with feedback on the extent of that mastery.
Authentic Assessment: A student is given a real-world numerical or word problem and asked to solve it. Such an assessment measures the mastery of real mathematics in a certain type of application. In your homeschool, this might mean giving your child a unit rate problem at the grocery store, a tax and tip problem at your favorite restaurant, or a measurement problem as you prepare to buy a carpet for your living room.
Free Math Placement Tests to Determine a Child’s Math Level
In addition to the methods listed above, you can also talk with your child and ask questions about your child’s confidence and areas of challenge, observe and take notes as your child does mathematics, and analyze your child’s assignments and quizzes. Sometimes, though, you want something that is designed to show you where your child is in relation to a particular curriculum or grade level. Fortunately, there are some free math placement tests out there that can help you both assess your child’s math performance and target specific skill areas.
Here are some resources to get you started:
Assessment Test Resources | Internet4Classrooms
Here you can find links to practice tests for grades 1-8, as well as end-of-course tests and gateway tests for high school math. You can use some of the links for elementary and middle school levels to get ideas of your child’s math proficiency, and the high school tests will provide data regarding your high schooler’s mastery of a completed year of instruction. All subjects are included here, but there is plenty to help you with assessing your child’s math levels.
Free Math Placement Test | Learn Math Fast
Use the online version as a homeschool math placement test and receive instant results or print the test and answers to keep test results confidential.
Mathematics Assessment Project
This is a collection of formative and summative lessons, tasks, tests, and rubrics that you can use to determine your child’s level of mathematical knowledge and reasoning. The materials are designed for classroom teachers but could be beneficial if you spend the time to learn how to use them.
Mathematics Assessment Supplement | National Center on Intensive Intervention
Browse this collection of worksheets, teacher instructions, and answer keys that you can use to determine your child’s levels of performance in counting, basic facts, place value concepts, whole number computation, and fractions as numbers.
Math Mammoth Placement Tests
Use these free diagnostic end-of-the-year tests to determine where your child has gaps in math, if any, from the previous year of learning. These are useful from grade 1 to pre-algebra.
Math Rubrics | Exemplars
Download these assessment rubrics for you to use to evaluate your child’s math performance and student rubrics for your child to use to self-assess.
Math-U-See® Homeschool Placement Tool
Answer a questionnaire about your child’s mastery of math concepts (and have your child try some problems if you are not sure). Then you will receive a recommendation for placement and suggestions for materials. You may also choose to explore the classroom versions of the Math-U-See® Placement Tests.
Math Year-End Tests and Assessments | K-5 Learning
Included here are publicly-released state math year-end tests for grades 1-5. You can use these to determine whether your child has mastery over math concepts from the year of instruction just completed.
Singapore Math Placement Tests
Use these free math placement tests for your elementary homeschooler to help determine a relative grade level for math.
Math Placement Resources
Here are some other math placement tools and resources to help you determine your child’s math levels:
Assessment and Rubrics | Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything
This is a collection of resources on assessment and rubrics for all kinds of subjects. If you have time to look around, you may find something—like an existing rubric or rubric builder—that you can use as a homeschool math assessment test for your child.
Make your own formative or summative assessments to determine how your child is doing in math. The basic program is free, or you can upgrade for more features.
Math Placement Test | Hand in Hand Education
Learn how to use homeschool math placement tests most effectively. A list of links to free math placement tests is also included.
Resource Guide for All Types of Homeschool Testing | Homeschool.com
Find out about homeschool placement testing, diagnostic testing for learning disabilities, IQ testing, standardized testing, and more.
State Testing | EDinformatics
This is a collection of past standardized tests from each state. Some are just sample questions while others are partial or full tests that have been released. You can use these to help determine your child’s mathematics proficiency, too.
Math Placement Follow Up
So, you have determined the math level of your homeschooler…. Now what? You need to find a quality math curriculum that fits both your homeschool budget and the needs of your family. You also want to continue monitoring your child’s performance in math and make adjustments when necessary. Here are a few resources you can explore to find math curriculums and help fine-tune your instruction:
Curriculum Finder Tool | Homeschool.com
Search through this extensive collection of homeschool curriculums by choosing your homeschooler’s grade level, the subject area you need (e.g., math), the category (e.g., faith-based, non-faith-based, special needs), and format (e.g., books, online curriculum).
Featured Homeschool Programs and Curriculum | A2ZHomeschooling
Check out these featured programs and curriculums for your homeschooler now that you have identified the proper levels for instructing your child in math.
Online Homeschool Math Curriculum | Time4Learning $
Time4Learning’s pre-K to grade 12 curriculum allows you to move flexibly through grade levels to continuously assess your child’s current math performance, adjust for gaps in learning, and accelerate when possible. Your student can work at a different grade level for each subject, and you can change at any time, as often as you like.
Teaching math can be overwhelming because you know it is important, and you may not know what skills and strategies your child has mastered. Hopefully, these resources will help you get your math instruction on track, so your child can be both successful and confident!
Want to find out how your child is doing in reading, too? Check out A2Z Homeschooling’s blog on Reading Level Assessment Tools!
Know of other free homeschool math assessment tests or resources? Help other homeschool families by sharing in the comments below….