September 10, 2002

Riverside Reverses New ITBS Testing Standards for Homeschoolers

On September 5, 2002, Riverside Publishing announced a complete reversal of their restrictive policy for homeschool students taking the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS).

The new policy allows homeschool parents or anyone else to administer the ITBS, requiring only that they have a bachelor's degree. Riverside will not enforce the previous requirement that the parent's four-year degree be in education. Test administrators also have the option to qualify by showing evidence of a teaching certificate or proof of working as a full time teacher in a conventional school.

The testing controversy began on August 9, 2002, when Riverside Publishing announced new standards for home school students taking the ITBS. Those who administered the ITBS test to homeschooled students were required to have a four year college degree in education. This created a hardship for most home school parents since they would no longer be able to administer the ITBS test for their children.

Bob Jones Testing and Evaluation, which serves as the major distributor of the ITBS test to homeschoolers, was informed of the change and told to implement it immediately. Many concerned homeschoolers contacted HSLDA when they were notified about the changes.

Both Bob Jones Testing and Evaluation and HSLDA lobbied Riverside Publishing for a reversal of their policy. Chris Klicka, senior counsel of HSLDA, explained to Riverside that this hardship would prevent most homeschool families from administering the ITBS test, and thus, they would take their business elsewhere. He explained how other test publishers did not have such a requirement, and that this requirement was completely unnecessary since homeschool parents could easily follow the instructions to administer a test without having a degree in education. Several homeschoolers also sent impassioned emails to Riverside, urging them to change their policy.

Homeschool parents may obtain the ITBS from the Bob Jones Testing and Evaluation Service by simply filling out an application form that includes proof that they have a four-year bachelor's degree and a signed statement that they have a valid home school. No further requirements apply.

HSLDA understands Riverside Publishing's concern that the validity and privacy of the test results are preserved. We are excited that the results of such standardized achievement tests typically demonstrate that home schoolers are scoring above average. Since we often share those results with the press, courts, and state legislatures, we do not want the validity of this testing to be challenged. With these reasonable standards imposed by Riverside Publishing, we believe the Iowa Test of Basic Skills results will withstand any challenge.