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I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my daily digest via email or RSS feed. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Big Fat List of Annual Achievement Tests for Homeschoolers

Big fat list of annual achievement tests for homeschoolers


I just put my order in for annual achievement tests this past weekend. They are mandatory in my state and so they've become a springtime obligation for us. While I don't know whether I would test or not test if given the choice, I have learned to appreciate a few of the benefits of an annual assessment and my kids always seem to enjoy the break from the norm that test days provide. Their excitement could be due to the fact that they get to see their progress and academic success laid out for them on a tidy little spread sheet that we receive from the testing service. Or it could be that they like testing week because it always somehow ends in ice cream cones. I'll leave you to speculate.

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)

If you live in a state that requires some kind of mandatory, norm-referenced testing, here is a quick guide to determining which one might best fit your homeschool. Please note, your state might require one specific test over the others. I've only referenced the top, most well-known and well-used ones. So, be sure to consult your state homeschooling laws before purchasing any particular test.


(While I have experienced several of the tests listed in my classroom teacher days, I've only personally used three of the tests in my homeschool. I don't wish to influence anyone's decisions in selecting the right test for your particular home. However, I will include a few personal thoughts in order to give you a bit more information.)


Big Fat List of Annual Achievement Tests for Homeschoolers


BASI (Basic Achievement Skills Inventory)

Some things to consider

  • The BASI is a paper/pencil, fill-in-the-bubble style test. 
  • It can be administered by any parent. 
  • The test is timed. 
  • It usually requires 2 hours to complete. 
  • The test may be administered year-round. 
  • It is a "survey" (language arts and math only) only test and is available for grades 3-12.
  • Practice tests are available for purchase for grades 1-3.
  • Tests can be administered independently or combined with other grades.
  • Tests are usually rented and returned. 
  • Scores are usually sent by mail within a few weeks. 

Where to purchase


CAT/5 (California Achievement Test) or Terra Nova (CAT/6) 

Some things to consider

  • The CAT/5 and CAT/6 are available in both paper/pencil or online/computer styles. 
  • Test may be administered by any parent. A bachelor's degree is not required.
  • The test is timed.
  • It usually requires 3-6 hours over the course of 2-3 days to complete.
  • The test can be administered year-round.
  • Complete battery and/or "survey" (language arts and math only) versions are available for grades K-12.
  • An online practice version of the test is available for purchase. 
  • Paper versions of the test are usually rented and returned. Many testing services only offer older editions (1970s and 1980s) to homeschoolers. 
  • Scores from the online version are provided immediately following each completed portion of the test. Scores from the paper/pencil version are usually sent electronically within a few weeks. 

Where to purchase


I have used both the on-line and the paper/pencil tests sold through Christian Liberty Press and have mixed feelings about them both. While my daughter liked the ease and speed of the online version, I had a love/hate relationship with it. The scores were given immediately after each section was completed. If a child did great on a section, the immediate scores were encouraging. But, if a child did poorly, they were discouraging and hampered his/her desire to keep testing. In general, I found the immediate scores to put undue pressure on the test taker. My oldest son found the computer navigation too difficult. So much of his time was spent trying to master the awkward slide functions of each screen that he ran out of time and couldn't finish many of the questions of each section. He also found the graphics and general layout of the online test to be distracting. In my opinion, the scores of an achievement test should reflect a student's knowledge of the content NOT their computer skills. 

I found the paper/pencil version of this testing service to be outdated and confusing. They only provide the 1970 version of the test. The page layout is difficult to follow and the content (language arts stories and math story problems) is often not applicable to a 21st century kid.

ITBS (Iowa Test of Basic Skills)

Some things to consider

  • The ITBS is a paper/pencil, fill-in-the-bubble style test. 
  • It can be administered by a parent who holds a bachelor's degree. Administering parent must usually register as a "tester" by the testing service. 
  • The mathematics portion of some levels is timed. 
  • It usually requires 3-6 hours over the course of 2-3 days to complete. 
  • The test may be administered year-round. 
  • Complete battery tests are available for grades K-12.
  • Practice tests are available for purchase.
  • If you are testing multiple grades, some of them may be combined using the same oral directions. Not all levels are easy to combine and must be administered separately. 
  • Tests are usually rented and returned. 
  • Scores are usually sent electronically within 10-12 business days. 

Where to purchase


I find the Iowa Basic to be the most user-friendly, well-rounded, and informative of all the tests that my family has personally used. I prefer to purchase it through BJU Press because I appreciate their customer service and also their on-line filing. I lost one of my son's tests from a previous year and was able to access and download it within minutes in my BJU account page. BJU also provides easy-to-understand directions for reading and evaluating the test scores which is helpful if you've never administered a test before.

PASS (Personalized Achievement Summary System)

Some things to consider

  • The PASS is a paper/pencil, fill-in-the-bubble style test. 
  • It can be administered by any parent.
  • The test is untimed. 
  • You would not order the test packet based on your child's grade level but according to how he/she scores on a placement test taking prior to the actual PASS test. 
  • The test is designed to be taken twice a year with at least a six-month time span between each testing.
  • It is a "survey" (language arts and math only) only test and is available for grades 3-8.
  • Tests are usually rented and returned. 
  • Scores are usually sent by mail within two weeks. 
  • Only a handful of states recognize the PASS test for the purpose of legal reporting. These include Alaska, New York, North Carolina, Georgia, Hew Hampshire, and Washington.

Where to purchase

Peabody

Some things to consider

  • The Peabody is an oral, interview style test given by a licensed tester either at a testing location or in your home. 
  • The test is untimed.
  • It usually requires 1 to 1 1/2 hours to complete per child.
  • The test may be administered year-round.
  • It is a "survey" (language arts and math only) only test and is available for grades K-12.
  • The test is non-bracketed which means that instead of being limited to the questions of a certain grade level, a child continues to answer questions until he/she misses a certain number of answers in each section in order to better assess a child's ability above or below grade level. 
  • Scores are provided immediately including percentile ranking and grade equivalency for five different subject areas. 
  • Not all states recognize the Peabody test for the purpose of legal reporting.

Where to purchase

Because the Peabody must be administered by a licensed tester, consult your state homeschooling association to be directed to a list of testers in your area. 


SAT 10 (Stanford Achievement Test)

Some things to consider

  • This is NOT the same SAT taken for college admission. They share the same acronym, but are not the same test. 
  • The SAT is available in both paper/pencil or online/computer styles. 
  • It can be administered by a parent who holds a bachelor's degree. Many testing services also require a parent to hold a teaching license and/or take additional training to be approved as a tester. 
  • The test is untimed but approximate times for each test section are provided. 
  • It usually requires 3-6 hours over the course of 2-3 days to complete. 
  • The test may be administered year-round. 
  • Complete battery and/or "survey" (language arts and math only) versions are available for grades K-12.
  • Practice tests are available for purchase.
  • If you are testing multiple grades, some of them may be combined using the same oral directions. Not all levels are easy to combine and must be administered separately. 
  • Tests are usually rented and returned. 
  • Scores are usually sent electronically within 10-12 business days. 

Where to purchase


Woodcock-Johnson

Some things to consider

  • The WJ is a primarily an oral, interview style test with the exception of some mathematics and an optional writing sample. It is given by a licensed tester either in your home or in a public place such as the library. 
  • The test is untimed.
  • It usually requires 1 to 1 1/2 hours to complete per child.
  • The test may be administered year-round.
  • Complete battery tests are available for grades K-12.
  • The test is non-bracketed which means that instead of being limited to the questions of a certain grade level, a child continues to answer questions until he/she misses a certain number of answers in each section in order to better assess a child's ability above or below grade level. The WJ is especially helpful for high schoolers who score beyond high school level.
  • Scores are provided either through email or by mail within a few weeks after the test has been administered. 
  • Not all states recognize the Woodcock-Johnson test for the purpose of legal reporting.

Where to purchase

Because the Woodcock-Johnson must be administered by a licensed tester, consult your state homeschooling association to be directed to a list of testers in your area. 


A final word

Education is about forward motion. Whether you choose to test or not, remember that your child's motion will always look different than another child's. Don't allow the results of a two-dimensional assessment define your ability to teach or your child's ability to learn. A test is just a tool; not a tyrant and can never measure the true education of a child. It will never show you the strength of a child's character, the breadth of a child's creativity, the sincerity of a child's passion, the depth of a child's faith, or the fullness of a child's personality.

So, test if you must. But don't let a score be your goal. Aim for a love of learning. If you can do that, then a silly test score will be too limited to quantify what your child is capable of. 

11 comments:

  1. We used the Peabody this year for my 2nd grader and I was very happy with how low key and relaxed it was. My daughter thought it was fun! :)

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    Replies
    1. I've heard really great things about the Peabody. I'm glad it was a good experience for you. Thanks for weighing in. I'm sure your thoughts will be helpful to others!

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  2. Last year was our first year of having to test (we're in GA, which requires testing every three years starting in 3rd grade). We used the online version of the SAT-10, ordered from Seton Testing and I was very pleased with this setup. My child enjoyed using the computer to test, which was a change from her offline learning. Results arrived in just a day or two via email. Thank you for posting this list of resources!

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    Replies
    1. Awesome! I've wondered how reliable the Seton Testing service is. Thanks for letting me know.

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  3. Do you happen to know if the ITBS (such as available from BJU, for instance) is still the original ITBS? I'm asking because I live in Iowa and the ITBS is what was used in the school systems for years, until 2011-12 when the state changed versions of the standardized test and renamed them to Iowa Assessments. I assume that the ITBS offered by vendors like BJU is still the same ITBS without the changes, but wondered if you knew.

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    Replies
    1. Mindy, BJU sells both the 2008 and the 2012 editions. You can order whichever one you'd prefer.

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  4. I would like to add that the SAT 10 has an online version that can be administered by a remote proctor and you don't even have to leave home. We are emailed the results in 24 hours or less.

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  5. We've used the CAT 5 and 6 from Seton testing for the past 5 years. It's mainly to satisfy the state requirement, but I admit, it's a type of yard stick for me to make sure my girls are moving forward. Most of what our curriculum actually teaches isn't included on those tests, but we've found they're simple to use. We do the paper rentals. :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for chiming in about the Seton testing service. I've not used them, but I'm glad to know that they provide a good experience.

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  6. Has anyone used Abeka for testing the Stanford 10? This was my first year ever testing, and my son still has not received a score even though they received the test May 1. They emailed me to tell me my return was processed and gave me a 5 dollar credit, and while I followed their instructions on returning for grading to a "t", I am so afraid that they just returned the materials. Is this normal procedure? I am hoping the email just means that they received the tests and will send his scores soon. Thanks for any input as to how long I should wait?

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  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

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