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2/18/2010 1:14:39 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
February 2010--Testing and Evaluations
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Dear Friends,

As spring approaches, many parents express concern about testing (or
proof of progress), especially in states which have some sort of
testing requirement.

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. For many parents, this gauge of the child's progress is
sufficient to make curriculum decisions or adjustments.

Other 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=7678 --with checklists
for evaluating progress in language arts, math, science, and social
studies (K-8th) as well as character development, or "Hewitt's
Learning Objectives for Grades K-8,"
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7679 with a scope and sequence
checklist for various subjects per grade.

However, in some states, http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7680 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.

The three most commonly used methods of assessment are standardized
testing, http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7681 evaluations,
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7682 and portfolio submission
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7683 .

Keep the Results in Perspective

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 you overestimated his
understanding of a particular subject area. As you review the results,
consider the goals http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7684 you set
earlier in the year. How did you do?
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7685 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?

"The Animal School"

When my children were younger, I happened across this fable by Dr.
George Reavis, assistant superintendent of the Cincinnati public
school system in the 1940s:

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Once upon a time, the animals decided they must do something heroic to
meet the problems of a "new world" so they organized a school. They
had adopted an activity curriculum consisting of running, climbing,
swimming, and flying. To make it easier to administer the curriculum,
all the animals took all the subjects.

The duck was excellent in swimming--in fact, better than his
instructor. But he made only passing grades in flying and was very
poor in running. Since he was slow in running, he had to stay after
school and also drop swimming in order to practice running. This was
kept up until his webbed feet were badly worn and he was only average
in swimming. But average was acceptable in school, so nobody worried
about that--except the duck.

The rabbit started at the top of the class in running but had a
nervous breakdown because of so much makeup work in swimming.
The squirrel was excellent in climbing until he developed frustration
in the flying class, where his teacher made him start from the ground
up instead of the treetop down. He also developed a "charlie horse"
from overexertion and then got a C in climbing and D in running.

The eagle was a problem child and was disciplined severely: In the
climbing class, he beat all the others to the top of the tree but
insisted on using his own way to get there.

At the end of the year, an abnormal eel that could swim exceedingly
well and also run, climb and fly a little had the highest average and
was valedictorian.

The prairie dogs stayed out of school and fought the tax levy because
the administration would not add digging and burrowing to the
curriculum. They apprenticed their children to a badger and later
joined the groundhogs and gophers to start a successful private
school.

(Watch a video adaptation of this story here
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7686 .)

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Be Encouraged

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--ask Him
for wisdom, and trust Him to continue to guide your choices.

Blessings,

Vicki Bentley
HSLDA Early Years coordinator
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7204

"For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and
understanding." (Proverbs 2:6, NKJV)

MORE ON TESTING

"What Achievement Tests Can and Cannot Do" (Teaching Home
e-newsletter) http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7687

"Seven Test Taking Skills to Teach Your Child" by Cindy Short and Sue
Welch http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7688

"Evaluating Progress" by Kara Murphy
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7689 Subscribe to Kara's newsletter
here http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7690

"Evaluating for Excellence" by Teresa Moon
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7691

For more information, visit the Early Years pages.
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7692
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-> How many acorns can a chipmunk hold in its cheeks?

We don't know! But we do know that gathering little by little
enables ordinary folks to prepare for hard times. That principle
is behind HSLDA's payment plan: by paying a month at a time,
families can receive an annual HSLDA membership. Meanwhile, they
can feel secure as they homeschool and focus on other priorities
-- their children. Don't go nuts trying to pay for membership all
at
once. Choose one of our convenient payment plans.

More reasons to join HSLDA...
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=1937

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