Help for Meeting State Homeschool Testing Requirements or Using Optional Testing to Benefit Your Child’s Education
For some of you, homeschool testing is a state requirement, which may be quite specific regarding when and how testing must be completed and, in some cases, submitted. For others, homeschool testing is optional and you may choose to avoid testing altogether by finding alternative methods of assessing progress, or you may embrace some form of testing. Regardless of your circumstances, homeschool testing can be overwhelming at first. Your most important task is to determine what you are required to do according to your state’s homeschool laws. Then, hopefully, the resources listed here can be of some help as you incorporate testing in your homeschool program.
|Homeschool Testing Services|
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Types of Homeschool Testing
If your state requires homeschool testing, you will more than likely be using some form of standardized testing for homeschoolers, where results have been normed—or compared—against some group of your child’s peers. Often, states either will describe criteria for appropriate standardized testing or list approved standardized tests that can be used to fulfill homeschooling requirements. Whether you are worried about choosing a test, arranging for the administration of a test, or helping your child prepare for a standardized test, “test anxiety” can be just as real for the homeschool parent as for the child. If testing is a requirement of homeschooling in your state, your best guidance is through your state’s department of education or a local school district.
If, however, homeschool testing is optional for you, and you decide that there is a place for it in your homeschool, you do have choices. Here are some types of testing and alternative assessments that may be useful in your homeschool:
- Placement Tests: If you are unsure where to start with your child in a certain subject area or with a certain skill, you may want to try a placement test. This will help you determine whether a particular grade level will be too easy, too difficult, or just right. Check out our posts on math placement tests or reading placement tests for ideas!
- Curriculum-Based Tests: If you are using a full boxed or online curriculum, or even specific subjects from a prepared curriculum, you may find that curriculum-based tests are included. These will help you test for your child’s progress in the curriculum and may—depending on the curriculum—allow for retesting to build mastery.
- Criterion-Referenced Tests: Maybe what you need to know is whether your child has met a particular standard, learning goal, performance level, or other predetermined criteria. That is when a criterion-referenced test may be the right choice. Some of these may also be standardized, like Advanced Placement exams.
- Performance-Based Assessment: If you are looking for more application of skills and knowledge, performance-based assessment may be right for your homeschool. In this case, you find or create challenging tasks that require your child to use higher-level thinking to complete a project or solve a problem.
- Portfolio Assessment: Having your child put together a portfolio of work over a period of time can be both motivating for your child and can help with confidence. Your child can pick the best work examples and show the process rather than just the end product. In some states, portfolio submission can be considered evidence of academic progress that can at least partially satisfy homeschooling requirements.
- Observation and Discussion: Although much more informal, you can learn a lot about your child’s abilities and understanding through observation or by discussing tasks with your child. Simply ask your child how things are going during a larger task or review a completed task and ask what was easy and what was challenging. See if you can help your child develop a clear awareness of strengths and challenges overall and with respect to certain subject areas and skills.
- Contests: If your child enjoys a little competition, contests can be a fun way to assess how your child is doing. While many will argue that competition against oneself may be better for confidence and motivation, you know your child. If contests pique your child’s interest, then see what you can learn about your child’s strengths and challenges as you watch the process and analyze the results.
You may not always see your child’s struggles, and you may not know where your child picks up information—television shows, conversations with others, reading T-shirts, who knows? Having an accurate perception of where your child is performing may require occasional informal or formal assessments, and you may need to use different types of testing depending on what you need to know.
Homeschool Testing Services
Depending on your situation, you may find that you can “do” homeschool testing on your own, or you may need some help. The following homeschool testing services provide assistance in the forms of testing materials, test scoring, consultation, and/or results interpretation:
ATC Educational Services $
“Whether affirming what you already have assessed about your child, measuring growth over time, building test taking skills (life is full of tests) and more, we are here to assist you in your homeschool planning, teaching and evaluating growth in a positive, friendly, & professional experience. Our goal is a meaningful NO STRESS ASSESS with in-person or online options. For those families who take education seriously, and who recognize that excellence in education requires a deep base of insight into learning and achievement for every student, then we can help you!”
Bayside School Services $
Bayside School Services has been “helping homeschool friends test since 1990.” It is “your easy-to-shop one-stop for the best tests available year-round. […] If you need to test your students, you need Bayside!”
Brewer Testing Services $
“We offer professional testing at our office and a wide selection of paper and online tests that may be administered in your home by the homeschool parent or by another qualified person. We ship materials promptly (usually within 1 day) and return most score reports within 4 days. We also offer 24-hour grading, First Class mailed hard copy reports, and emailed “pdf” reports. All of our tests are nationally standardized with the latest norms available. We only offer tests that meet our high standards!”
Canadian Test Centre $
“CTC/Canadian Test Centre offers home educators an opportunity to assess their students with the nationally recognized Canadian Achievement Tests (CAT) and the Canadian Test of Cognitive Skills (CTCS). These tests provide home educators with information that will assist them in teaching and guiding their students. CAT indicates how an examinee is doing in comparison with others at the same grade level across Canada and provides a profile of strengths and needs in reading, language, spelling, mathematics and writing. […] CTCS compares the learning abilities or cognitive skills of an examinee with others at the same age and grade across Canada; assesses learning skills in sequences, analogies, memory, and verbal reasoning.”
Colorado Homeschooling Services $
“Homeschooling Evaluations” was created to share my love of learning and passion for helping others. This business began as ‘Colorado Homeschooling’ to provide homeschool families a simple way to meet law requirements via evaluation. Since our Colorado debut, we’ve grown and added ‘Virginia Homeschooling’ so we can serve even more homeschooling families. We strive to support families on their homeschool journeys through low stress, quality evaluations and testing, consulting services, pre-designed unit studies, and lesson plans.”
Family Learning Organization $
“For over 30 years, Family Learning Organization has been offering year-round educational assessment testing and scoring services for homeschooling families, groups, and private schools. The tests we offer may be proctored at home by the parent. Scores are mailed directly to you or emailed upon request. Or create an online account so you may view your past orders and download scores at any time.”
Hewitt Learning $
“The P.A.S.S. (Personalized Achievement Summary System) Test is a standardized test that has been administered over 350,000 times. Its popularity among homeschooling families is due primarily to two characteristics. 1. It is a non-timed test. This reduces or eliminates the test anxiety often arising around standardized testing. 2. Because not all students are at the same level in any particular grade, it incorporates a pretest to determine the most appropriate level test to administer in each of the three subjects (Reading, Math, and Language). When tests are scored, the student’s responses to the specific level tests they took are then used to generate a report, which includes a comparison of the student to others in their same grade, as well as some specific recommendations.
Homeschool Boss $
“Our goal is to provide homeschool families with a stress-free MAP Growth testing experience and homeschool testing resources that are convenient and comfortable. Our tests provide useful results for students, whether they are working at, above, or below grade level (or a mix of all three). We believe taking MAP Growth testing at home is a superior experience for most homeschool families whether they are testing for placement, peace of mind, or to meet state requirements.”
Homeschool Testing Services $
“Does your child work best from home? Are they still young and needing more one-on-one attention? Or you just prefer to test at home? Then this test will be perfect for you! Here, your child will test on their computer in the comfort of your own home. They will call in to a conference call where a proctor will read the directions to them. They will then be able to take the test. Online testing is for grades 3–12, is proctored, and includes the same components as the physical test for the level you choose. The online version does not have a listening section. As norm-referenced tests, CTP and the Stanford-10 not only offer the home educator information on their student’s achievement, they also provide comparisons based on nationwide test results. Their rich history and academic excellence have earned them acceptance as nationally normed achievement tests and meet most states’ testing requirements.”
The Learning Record $
“The Learning Record provides an architecture and process for documenting student progress and achievement, based on interviews, observations over time, samples of students’ naturally-occurring work, and well-supported interpretations of learning across five dimensions. It is an evidence-based assessment with a deep foundation in learning theory and research. […] The Learning Record provides a way of accounting for learning that is richer and more meaningful than standardized testing yet offers much more consistency and comparability across student populations than conventional portfolio assessment. It can serve as the sole record of students’ achievement, or it can be used to inform and support conventional grading.”
Piedmont Education Services $
“Piedmont Education Services was founded in 1987 by former classroom teachers and homeschooling parents to better serve private schools and homeschooling families throughout NC and southern Virginia, expanding in 2002 to offer our educational products and services nationwide. […] We have administered the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, the Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Achievement, and the California Achievement Tests to thousands of children all across North Carolina and southern Virginia. We provide educational consultations and custom curriculum development based on personal assessment and learning style.”
Seton Standardized Tests $
“Whether you are an individual homeschooler, a private school, or homeschool group, Seton Testing Services provides affordable, nationally standardized ability and achievement tests, practice tests, and test prep materials to meet your needs for grades K-12. Seton also offers diagnostic online reading & math tests and a cognitive abilities test.”
University of Minnesota Homeschool Testing $
“Minnesota homeschools are required to annually administer a nationally normed achievement test for each student aged 7-17. Only accredited homeschools are exempt from this requirement. A nationally normed achievement test compares students’ performance to other students in the same grade across the nation. MSTP offers two options that meet Minnesota’s requirement, as well as additional assessments. Get started by choosing the assessment.”
Other Homeschool Testing Resources
Still looking for more resources on homeschool testing? Here are just a few more that may help your homeschool get and stay on track:
Easy Test Maker
“EasyTestMaker is an online test generator to help you create and manage your tests! Create, print and publish your tests online! EasyTestMaker makes it easy for you to perfectly format multiple question types, print alternate versions, and publish to the web for online tests. Online tests are automatically graded! Sign up—It’s free!”
Glossary of Testing, Measurement, and Statistical Terms
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt ™ provides a glossary of vocabulary you may need to choose testing, administer testing, or read the results of testing that has been completed.
NAEP Questions Tool
Use this tool by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) to “explore thousands of questions by grade, year, and content area” and “see sample student responses and data.” Have your child “try answering some of the same questions that students have responded to on actual NAEP assessments” and “see how your [child’s] scores compare to those of students across the nation.” You can also create tests when you “select a subject and grade and get a pre-selected assessment or make all the choices yourself and create your own customized assessment.”
Resource Guide for All Types of Homeschool Testing
Homeschool.com offers this guide to share resources for placement tests, learning disabilities diagnostic testing, student IQ testing, standardized testing, and more.
Some Things Parents Should Know About Testing
This Q&A webpage can help you understand the results of testing by Harcourt Assessment, Inc.
Test Scores: A Guide to Understanding and Using Test Results
“When a student takes either an individually or group-administered standardized test at school, the results are made available to both parents and teachers. It is important that parents and teachers understand the meaning of scores that come from standardized tests. This handout provides a description of common terms used to describe test performance.”