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4/30/2009 2:29:14 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
HSLDA's Homeschooling Thru the Early Years Newsletter

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HSLDA's Homeschooling Thru the Early Years Newsletter
April 2009: End-of-Year Assessments
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Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

Spring has sprung, and many a homeschool parent's thoughts drift
to--testing!

As a homeschool parent, you observe your child on a daily basis and
can probably determine pretty accurately in which areas he is strong
and in which areas he could use some maturity or additional help. His
verbal interaction with you, his hands-on activities, written work,
periodic subject-matter tests (if you use them), and his achievement
of goals you have set for him are all informal indicators of his
progress.

Many parents find it reassuring to have some sort of guidelines for
academic milestones, such as Robin Sampson's "What Your Child Needs to
Know When" http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6459 --with checklists
for evaluating progress in language arts, math, science, and social
studies (K-8th) as well as character development.

However, in some states http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6460 , the
law may require that you periodically demonstrate academic progress.
Some states require standardized testing, while others may allow for a
teacher letter or some other form of evaluation. Regardless of the
legal requirement, you may want to conduct a more formal assessment
for your own purposes. Let's face it--when the results come in, you
often feel like those results are yours, not your child's! So how can
you lessen the anxiety--for you and your student?

CONSIDER YOUR OPTIONS

The method you choose for your child will depend upon your state's
legal requirements, if applicable, and/or your family's philosophical
preference. Consider also the format that will best reflect your
child's true progress: While a visual learner may test well on paper,
a hands-on or auditory learner may be better assessed by an evaluation
or a test utilizing personal interaction, rather than a
paper-and-pencil test. In that case, you might choose to administer a
standardized test first, leaving time for a follow-up if the results
don't match what you've witnessed in his day-to-day progress. Or you
may opt for an untimed test to reduce testing anxiety.

Visit our site for more information about the three most commonly used
methods of assessment:

> Standardized http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6461
> Evaluations http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6462
> Portfolio submission. http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6463


KNOW THE DEADLINES

Be aware of your state's deadline to turn in results of testing or
performance assessment. Be sure to order your tests in time to
receive the scores back before that deadline. Check with the company
for the expected turnaround time (for example, some testing sources
are swamped in May and have 7-week turnarounds then, but April or June
may be 2-week turnaround times). Remember to test early enough to
retest if desired.


RETESTING

"Why would I retest?" you wonder. If your child scores below the
acceptable percentile (which varies by state) or you believe his score
was low for any of various reasons, you might want to consider
retesting or using another form of evaluation or assessment. (For
example, you sent the test materials in for scoring and the next day
he broke out in the measles, or later that night you realized he had a
fever and could barely read the questions, or found out the next week
that he needs glasses, etc.) If you have reason to believe that the
results were not an accurate reflection of his achievement, a retest
or re-evaluation is an option.


PREPARE YOUR STUDENT

The test will have questions ranging from below the testing grade
level to well above grade level, so it is important for your child to
understand that you do not expect him to know all the answers.
Otherwise, he may panic when he encounters material with which he is
not familiar. As parents, we must remember that if and when we test
our children in everyday studies, we do it to check that they have
learned all the material presented and we expect (hope for?) a score
of 100.

Consequently, it is critical that the child understands that we don't
expect him to know all the answers on this test, but we simply want to
find out how many he does know, that some of them
are--deliberately--too hard for him, and he should just do his best.
If a timed test is too stressful for your child, consider an untimed
test such as the Stanford 10, or another method of assessment (if
possible).

Be sure to visit our website for more information on testing tips
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6464 and test resources
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6465 , as well as other options such
as evaluations and portfolios.


KEEP THE RESULTS IN PERSPECTIVE

Even if your child doesn't do as well as you might expect, think of
the test or evaluation as simply a tool to assess progress, to let you
know the areas in which he is doing well and the areas in which you
may need some work. Maybe he did as well as you'd hoped, or maybe you
overestimated his understanding of a particular subject area. As you
review the results, consider the goals
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6466 you set earlier in the year.
How did you do? http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6467

Are you on target or do you need to adjust the course a bit to reach
the desired destination on this "journey" of home education?

Remember that a test or evaluation is just one "snapshot" of his
academic progress and of your child as a person. He is more than the
sum of his test results! This time of year can be a wonderful reminder
to thank God for this uniquely-gifted child He has given you--and to
trust Him to continue to guide your choices and approaches.

Encouraging you in the home stretch for this year,
Vicki


Vicki Bentley
HSLDA Early Years Coordinator
www.hslda.org/earlyyears
540-338-5600
earlyyears@hslda.org
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-> Have you ever yelled into the wind, only to hear the sound of your
voice blown back at you?

It's hard to be heard in the midst of a storm. Trying to influence
federal legislation is much like yelling to be heard while
standing in a fierce wind. Yet when 80,000 voices join together,
they become a powerful force that cannot be drowned out.
Join HSLDA to be heard above the tempests that threaten homeschool
freedoms.

More reasons to join HSLDA...
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=1939

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