Monday, February 22, 2016

Quizzes and Tests


Quizzes and Tests on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com


Close your books and put them under your desk, get out a pencil - it's time for a pop quiz!

Did that happen to you in school? I think it did happen to a lot of us, and even if you were told ahead of time that "this will be on the test" or that "one day next week there will be a quiz", it can still be very disconcerting to have it sprung on you!

There's a wide variety of opinions among homeschool families about whether to use tests or not. Some homeschoolers do regular written tests from early grades all the way through high school, while others shy away from doing any formal testing at all. And there's everything in between. We are in between somewhere ourselves. There are plenty of "right answers" for how much testing to do while homeschooling, and a number of factors that affect the decision. This post is just about what we've done, and how it's worked for us.

When we started out, I honestly didn't see much need to use all the quizzes and tests that were in the curriculum. After all, I could tell when my child understood the material because we were reading through it and discussing it along the way. We did the chapter review tests in the math book, but that's about it. I even had mixed feelings about spelling tests. One of my guys had a natural ability to remember how words were spelled and rarely goofed up. When he did, and I told him the correct way to spell the word, he fixed it and almost never got it wrong another time. I didn't bother doing a separate spelling curriculum with that one - it would have been a waste of both our time! But I had another student that had a tougher time learning to read, and I decided it was ridiculous to teach spelling until he'd advanced quite a bit further with reading. In the end, although it took much more effort for him, he learned spelling in almost the same way as his brother. By the time the younger two children were "in school", we had established that pattern - a majority of the quizzes and tests we encountered in science or history were skimmed over or done orally, and the only tests we took seriously at all were the math tests.

As we got to the middle school years, the kids were transitioning to doing more of their work independently, so it also made more sense to do the chapter tests whenever they appeared in the curriculum. That gave me some kind of tool to know whether they had done all the reading and had really understood the assignments they'd completed. We still were pretty relaxed about testing though - it just wasn't a big deal. 

Frankly, that's still pretty close to where we stand on testing. I do expect both Landon and Kennady to complete the quizzes when they come to them in their textbooks, and to do the tests at the end of the chapters or units, but I'm not hard-core about it at all. In fact, the quizzes are often the first things I throw out if I need to condense a course a little bit; and it's not at all unusual for me to say, "let me just read the questions to you and we'll do this quiz orally."

Quizzes and Tests on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

What about standardized testing? In my state, standardized testing is not required at any grade level, so we haven't done it. I have many friends who have chosen to do standardized testing anyway, for various reasons. We've chosen not to, mainly because we don't follow the scope and sequence for what's taught at various grade levels. It doesn't make much sense to have a student take a standardized test that covers American history when we've just spent the year studying ancient history. Granted, if we lived in a state where standardized testing was imposed on homeschoolers, we would have to consider that when choosing our curriculum and course of study.

I'd have to say that overall, Landon and Kennady are probably doing more in the way of testing during their high school years than the older two boys did. We still take a pretty relaxed approach to it, but I do want them to be prepared if and when they do need to write exams in college, or even a college entrance exam! We have more resources that we're choosing from as well. In fact, we've been making use of a great website chock-full of worksheets, quizzes, and tests recently. It's called HelpTeaching.com and the Schoolhouse Crew members (including me!) will be sharing reviews of the site and all it offers starting tomorrow. 

HelpTeaching Review

 So far, none of my kids has even written an SAT! I know, that's insane. We didn't mean for them to avoid them, it just kind of turned out that way. As it happened, Harrison didn't need an SAT for entrance to the broadcast school he chose. He did need to write a test - an aptitude and logic type test - and without any real warning, so I quietly stressed about that in another room while he was working. After all, we hadn't done anything to prepare, and this boy had written hardly any tests at all during this entire school career, and I don't think any of them were timed! Guess what? He aced the test and got one of the highest scores possible. Spencer wasn't interested in pursuing college and test anxiety was a real thing, so we opted out of SATs for him as well. And Landon kind of jumped ahead by deciding to graduate this year and so we missed the chance to write SATs this year. He is planning to take some time before going on to college anyway, so it's not a worry. Believe me, I will plan ahead better for Kennady, and she may be the first in our family to ever write SATs!

What's your view of testing as a homeschooler? Are you required to test, or do you choose to test? I'm always interested to hear how others approach this issue, so leave a comment and let me know!

This post is linked at Blogging Through the Alphabet, hosted by Cristi at Through the Calm and Through the Storm and Meg at Adventures with Jude. This week participating bloggers are featuring the letter Q.

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I am also linking up at the Homeschool Mother's Journal hosted by NextGenHomeschool, for a Fourth Saturday of the month discussion about "What's Important" since the questions of whether to test, when to test, how often to test, etc are important ones for homeschoolers to address. 



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5 comments:

Christy Schaefer said...

We have kept up with standardized testing even though it's not required in our state. However, we don't do hardly any testing in our actual schooling. Don't even ask about the ACT... we're currently figuring out how to get around that. We hope.

Annette said...

I do limited testing/quizzing with my lad. The amount of stress it causes him at this point makes me wonder about it's effectiveness...but fear of the unknown and failure is part of life, so I continue with the occasional test. :)

Kym Thorpe said...

Yes, Annette, I agree that it's a good idea to prepare kids with some kind of testing! It's hard when it makes them particularly anxious though. :-(

Tim said...

We probably do about the same amount of testing as you. We place hardly any emphasis on it. Our kids are enrolled in a couple of online classes that require tests, and we do the math tests at the end as a way of review, but that's about it. We also have to do standardized tests for certain grades here, so we do them when we have to.

Leah Courtney said...

I don't like tests and quizzes. If our given curriculum uses them, I use them and keep grades- especially for the big kids because we're creating transcripts.

We don't do standardized testing, although I did have my oldest take the PSAT last year because she wants to take the SAT for college.

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