Standardized Testing for Homeschoolers

Standardized Testing
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Nearly half of all states in the U.S. either require standardized testing for homeschoolers or offer testing as one of the options for demonstrating academic progress. Many parents who aren't required to do so utilize standardized testing to objectively assess their children's progress.

If either of those scenarios describe you, but your child hasn’t tested before, you may be unsure what your options are or how to get started.

Your state or local homeschool support group should be able to answer most questions specific to your state or county.

However, the general information and guidelines to consider are fairly universal. 

Types of Tests

There are several options for standardized testing. You may want to check your state’s homeschool laws to be sure that the test you’re considering satisfies your state’s laws. You may also wish to compare testing options for your state. Some of the more well-known testing options include:

1. The Iowa Test of Basic Skills is a nationally standardized test for children in grades K-12. It covers language arts, math, science, social studies, and study skills. It is a timed test that can be administered any time during the school year, but it must be administered by someone with at least a B.A. degree. 

2. The Stanford Achievement Test is a nationally standardized test for children in grades K-12 covering language arts, math, science, social studies, and reading comprehension.

It is an untimed test that must be administered by someone with at least B.A. degree. There is now an online version that may allow in-home testing since the online source is considered the test administrator.

3. The California Achievement Test is a nationally standardized test for children in grades 2-12 that can be administered by parents and returned to the testing supplier for scoring.The CAT is a timed test that can be administered any time during the year and an online testing option is available.

 Many homeschooling families prefer the CAT, an older version of the current CAT/5 test. The updated version can be used for grades K-12. 

4. The Personalized Achievement Summary Survey (PASS) is a standardized test developed specifically for homeschoolers that meets the standardized testing requirements in some, but not all states. PASS is an untimed test that covers reading, language, and math for students in grades 3-12. It can be administered by parents and no degree is required.

How to choose the right standardized test

Just as with curriculum, scheduling, or any other aspect of homeschooling, choosing the right test for your students is very subjective. Some questions to consider are:

  • Will your child do better with a timed or untimed test? Some kids get very stressed when using a timed test.
  • Do you want to be able to administer the test yourself? If so, do you meet the qualification requirements for the test you’re considering?
  • If you are not qualified to administer the test yourself, do you have a friend, relative, or homeschool contact who can administer the test for you?
  • Does the test have restrictions or guidelines regarding testing your own children?
  • What subjects does the test cover? Is it comprehensive enough to meet your needs?
  • Is the test considered to be appropriately challenging for your child? Some standardized tests have a reputation for being more rigorous than others. You may want to ask around to ensure that you’re choosing a test that thoroughly assesses your child’s ability without reaching frustration level.

Regardless of which you choose, it’s often wise to administer the same test each year in order to provide an accurate view of your child’s progress from year to year.

Where to take tests

There are many options for where students can be tested, though the choices may be limited by factors such as the guidelines of the particular test or your state’s homeschool laws.

Many homeschooling families prefer to administer tests themselves at home. There are several sources for ordering testing materials or taking standardized tests online.

You may want to check your state homeschool support group’s website for information specific to your state. Some popular testing supply options include:

Some other testing location options may include:

  • Co-op. Many homeschooling co-ops offer testing for their member families, and some open testing to non-member homeschooling families, as well.
  • Homeschool support groups
  • Umbrella or church-related schools

Regardless of whether you’re testing to fulfill your state’s homeschool laws or to monitor your child’s academic progress, these basic facts can help you choose the standardized testing options to best meet your family’s needs.