To test or not to test?...that is the question. Well, let me rephrase...TO TEST! Although in many states homeschoolers have the OPTION of completing a standardized test, around these parts, annual testing is mandatory. Many moms tend to recoil from this obligatory task. But although I think that there are several obvious inconsistencies with the results of such tests based on many outside contributing factors, I do think that there is much to be gleaned from this annual drudgery.
Whether you live in a state that requires annual testing or you have the option to "pass", here are a few thoughts for your consideration.
1. Testing can be a good assessment of acquired knowledge.
I know...I know...as a homeschool mom, I am suppose to shy away from comparing my child to any other child. They are all UNIQUELY created, after all. How dare anyone ever suppress my child's natural love of learning by giving them a grade (gasp!) or assigning a value to their work (Insert large amounts of sarcasm!)?! But, on the other hand, a standardized test CAN be one simple way of evaluating how much your little scholar has learned from one year to the next. Just because the results COMPARE does not mean that you have to. You can simply choose to use the test scores as a tool...a helpful tool to show strengths and weaknesses. And let's be honest...although I feel completely confident in the condition of Sweetie Pea's knowledge or lack thereof in a particular area, sometimes I fail to communicate that to her. A test score, at times, can be a natural motivator, an encouraging pat on the back, or even a much needed admonishment...as the case may be.
2. Test results can assist in curriculum evaluation...or RE-evaluation.
It goes without saying...if a child does rather poorly in any particular testing area, it would be beneficial to re-evaluate the choice of curriculum or subject matter for next year.
3. Test results are an easy "portfolio" for state requirements.
Many states require an annual portfolio of sample class work for each child. Much time and energy can be saved in simply filing away annual test scores...tangible proof of educational progression from one school year to the next.
4. Tests are an unavoidable part of higher education.
If your child has any college aspirations, it would be to his/her benefit to have some testing experience. Homeschooling is a great greenhouse for many life skills and experiences. Testing can be one of them. College level testing will come so much more naturally to your child if they have already had an introduction to the "how tos" of basic testing and test preparation.
5. Test scores can be much-needed affirmation for the momma.
Who, among us, does not occasionally suffer from self doubt? Homeschool moms...or just MOMS in general...are notorious for possessing feelings of inadequacy. Just as a test score can be a natural "high five" for the child who scores AT or ABOVE grade level, a test score can be a beneficial boost for the mom and her opinion of herself and her teaching ability.
If you are contemplating administering standardized tests, here is link to a helpful comparison chart of all the major testing providers, their contact info, prices, and types of test questions. In addition, it also details what, if any, administrator qualifications are required.