So let’s not begin the whole debate about whether standardized tests are good, okay? Let’s instead agree here to begin with the premise that since 1) Colorado requires homeschooled children in grades 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11 to take a nationally standardized test and 2) the SAT and ACT and MCAT or GRE or LSAT (no!) are hopefully in my children’s future, I make my children take standardized tests. And sitting in a chair for hours on end, filling in little bubbles with a number 2 pencil (but not making any other marks on your test sheet!) and then forcing oneself to go back and check one’s answers is a learned skill. So, we learn.
Here is a photo from 2006 of our lesson on molluscs. See all those gastropods eeking across the floor in their shells?
In the past, we’ve done the ITBS. Every year, I get the results and think two things: 1) I am still so hung up on numbers it’s ridiculous. And 2) You have to read those results so carefully. When Sam has finally helped me to decipher them, the results have absolutely concurred with what I observe in my children. (That is, that they are good readers, stink at capitalization and punctuation, and make stupid mistakes in math.)
This year, we gave them the CAT test. We used Seton testing service, which was simple and fast with the results. The CAT test provides its results slightly differently, and again when I saw them, I panicked. What if my children didn’t do well? Should I put them in school? Am I a terrible teacher?
Again, I needed Sam to help me decipher the results without panic. And what did they show? That my kids stink at language mechanics, are good readers, and make silly mistakes in math, but overall are doing well. Which I already knew. But in the process, we got a little more practice sitting in a chair until the timer dinged, filling in bubbles, answering only what the question asks and nothing else, and going back to recheck our calculations. Okay wait, maybe we didn’t learn that. But there’s always next year.