Some states require testing, some do not. First, know why you are testing. Is it for your own information, or is it because you are required by law to test? Is it to tell grandparents and cousins which grade-level your child tests at? Is it to practice testing for college entrance? Don’t test if it doesn’t fit in with your goals. Check Homeschool Legal Defense Association’s website for legal information.
Some homeschool groups bring in a tester at the end of the year. This lets kids test with their friends in a familiar location – a very good idea if you must test and can’t do it at home.
Some testing services will allow homeschool parents to test their own children. Ensure that the test you select is one that is accepted by your state.
Some states allow students to submit a portfolio. A portfolio is simply a sample of the student’s work, and is an excellent way to showcase what has been learned. If the portfolio will be evaluated, it is a good idea to find out if there are specific things that the evaluator likes to see. It would be appropriate to have one section for every subject. Contents will vary depending on the subject. Things that you might include are:
- course rational (why is this being studied?, objectives, assessment methods)
- course syllabus (description, materials, etc)
- copy of textbook’s table of contents
- sample student assignments from beginning, middle, and end of the year to show progress
- sample lab write-ups
- end of course tests
- reports written by student
- photographs of projects
Washington state currently allows either a test or an assessment. The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s website has details on this option (home-based education is located under private schools on the website). Download the “Pink Book” pdf. In general, someone who holds teaching credentials and is currently employed in the field of education can assess what your child has learned and write a letter documenting the fact that your child is making acceptable progress. Note that some assessors like to see a portfolio, others will talk to the student and have the child demonstrate what was learned, others do other things. In Washington, assessors are not locked into a specific method of operation, but have the freedom to use their professional judgment to determine whether a child is making acceptable progress. If you do not have a friend who is a teacher willing to do an assessment for you, one option is to contact the Family Learning Organization.
American College Testing, Inc.
- ACT – American College Testing
- PLAN – Pre-ACT
- PIAT – Peabody Individual Achievement Test
- SAT – Scholastic Aptitude Test I: Reasoning
- PSAT – Preliminary Scholastic Achievement Test
- CAT/5 – California Achievement Test
- CDT – California Diagnostic Test
- CTBS – Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills
- MAT/7 – Metropolitan Achievement Tests
- SAT – Stanford Achievement Test
- ITBS – Iowa Tests of Basic Skills
- ITED – Iowa Tests of Educational Development
- TAP – Test of Achievement and Proficiency
The Buros Institute of Mental Measurements website has a complete list of tests that they have evaluated – click on a year to view tests reviewed that year (not all tests are reviewed every year). Visit your public library to read reviews in Mental Measurements Yearbook.