Standardized Testing

Families who elect to home school on the basis of the 1984 Home Instruction Law commonly utilize some form of standardized testing to submit to the local public school superintendent in order to comply with the law. If you decide to claim religious exemption, or file under the tutorial statute, you may use standardized testing as a method of gauging relative progress from year to year. However, you do not submit your results to school authorities.

There are several options for having your children tested. If you are a qualified tester (depending on the requirements of the test company), you may test your own children. Roanoke has a group of home schooling moms who are qualified testers that offer group testing in the spring. You need to watch the newsletter in January to get registration information. You may have a friend who would qualify as a tester who would be willing to test your children. The final option is to test through a correspondence school (you do not have to be enrolled in their program).

School districts send out a letter in the spring that makes it sound like either you must test your child at the school, or let them know the details of your plans to test. This information is not required by law. You can just ignore the letter – you do not have to respond. We do not recommend that you have your child tested at the public school when the schools are testing. The unfamiliar environment may adversely affect his testing. Also, the school system has the test in their possession before it is scored. If the composite score is below the 4th stanine (23rd percentile) you can be put on probation and will not have the option of retesting or using another form of evaluation.

Most parents test children in the spring. You must allow plenty of time to receive the tests, do the testing, send them back for scoring, and submit results by August 1st. Also, it is wise to test early enough so that if your child scores low, you have time to retest and get those results to the superintendent by August 1st. We suggest that you test in April or May. It is not necessary that your child have completed his full year of school before you test. The scoring takes into the account that month that your child tested and the amount of time left before he should be finished.

Some school officials may want to know who tested your children, require you to use a particular test, or place other restrictions on your testing. HSLDA has told us that, “There is no requirement that the test administrator or evaluator be approved in advance. Under the law, any standardized test can be administered anywhere, anytime, by anybody, as long as the test results show the child has scored at or above the 4th stanine. Of course, each parent is responsible to follow the test manufacturer’s standards which may include having the test administered by a person with a college degree.”

Below are resources for commonly used tests. These resources are gathered by HEAV and were current as of March 2002:

  • CALIFORNIA ACHIEVEMENT TEST (CAT)

    Time: 2.5 – 3.5 hours to complete test
    Comments: Easier than some other tests, percentage scores may show higher than other tests.

    Christian Liberty Academy
    502 W. Euclid Avenue
    Arlington Heights, IL 60004
    (847)259-4444

    Levels: 2nd – 12th Grades
    Qualifications: No special qualifications required to give the test.
    Cost: $20/Student

    Seton Home Study School
    1350 Progress Drive
    Front Royal, VA 22630
    (540)636-9990

    Levels: K-12th
    Qualifications: No special qualifications required to give the test.
    Cost: $20/Student

 

  • COMPREHENSIVE TEST OF BASIC SKILLS

    Sycamore Tree
    2179 Meyer Place
    Costa Mesa, CA 92627
    (800)779-6750 or (949)650-4466

    Levels: K-12th
    Cost: $50/Student
    Comments: Along with the scores, you will receive a professional critique.

 

  • IOWA TEST OF BASIC SKILLS (ITBS) AND TEST OF ACHIEVEMENT & PROFICIENCY (TAP)

    Bob Jones University Press
    Greenville, SC 29614
    (800)845-5731

    Levels: K-12th
    Cost: $31/Student
    Qualifications: Test administrator must have a 4-year degree, or be a certified teacher, or be a working teacher in a conventional school. Anyone can order a test, but the test will only be sent to a qualified tester who is responsible to administer and return the test for scoring. A qualified tester may test his own children.

    SummitChristian Academy
    P.O. Box 2769
    Cedar Hill, TX 75106
    (800)362-9180
    info@SCA.com

    Levels: 3rd-12th
    Qualifications: No special qualifications required to give test.
    Comments: Tests to be given in March.

 

  • STANFORD ACHIEVEMENT TEST

    Bob Jones University Press
    Greenville, SC 29614
    (800)845-5731

    Levels: K-12th
    Cost: $31/Student

 

Qualifications:

The tester must have a bachelor’s degree and be an approved Stanford Tester. In addition, if testing your own relatives, you must have at least two non-relatives taking the same level test with each of your children. BJU will send the tests directly to the qualified tester, who will test and then return the tests for scoring. You may contact BJU if you are interested in becoming Stanford approved. The process takes about 10 days.

Note: Bob Jones University also provides other types of tests (cognitive development, writing assessments) as well as test preparation and practice tests. These are items that would be for your own evaluation. You would not turn these scores in to the school district.

ALTERNATIVES TO TESTING

Under the 1984 Home Instruction Law, you may provide, in lieu of testing, an evaluation of your children which shows evidence of progress. The law does not set any specific qualifications, but we suggest that the evaluator be a third party who has some education credentials or is currently a teacher in a public or private school. If you choose to submit this type of evaluation or think you may need it in case your child does not test well, you need to talk with an evaluator very early in the year to see what will be required of you during the year for an evaluation.

Another option would be to submit a portfolio of your child’s work for the year. Check with your district ahead of time for the requirements.

Chris Klicka (Senior Legal Counsel for Home School Legal Defense) in his book, The Right Choice: Home Schooling, recommends testing over evaluations because with the test score, the school officials have “no discretion to determine adequacy of the rest results”; whereas with an evaluation or portfolio, “you are opening yourself up to much greater scrutiny and arbitrary discretion of the public school officials.” (p.220). We have had families in our area submit evaluations and portfolios with no problems, but you need to realize that if you choose an evaluation, you are also accepting the superintendent’s power of approval.

STANDARDS OF LEARNING

If you are concerned about whether your child is learning what the state requires at each grade level, you may order the Standards of Learning for the Commonwealth of Virginia. These are booklets that state what the child is to learn in each subject at each grade level K –12. These are sent free of charge. Just ask for a complete set of the Standards of Learning.

Please remember that you are required by law to meet only the requirements in Math and Language. Also note that home schoolers are not required to take the SOL tests. A good curriculum will surpass the state standards. A copy of the Table of Contents or Index is sufficient proof that your math and language arts materials meet the state standards of learning.

Order SOL booklets from: Commonwealth of Virginia
Department of Education
Richmond, VA 23216-206


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