This week many in our area are enjoying Spring Break immediately following the Easter festivities. I, however, have just finished administering Standardized Tests to my two older kids. According to GA homeschool laws, you must test them every three years beginning in third grade. I like to test them together, or at least in pairs, so on occasion, one child might test a little sooner than needed.
These tests don’t truly depict my children; however, I have found they do offer some benefit to me as a teacher. The most beneficial aspect, for me, was when I administered the Cognitive abilities test in addition to their testing. This test is not graded in terms of how a child relates to other kids but helps me as a teacher to understand better, how my kid learns.
The first time I gave it, I learned that my daughter who did well in school, except had problems in memorization and some math, was having a problem with her spatial abilities. Basically, she was having a harder time visualizing problems in her head. The test then recommended that I provide more manipulatives to help her with her work. In time, it may help. She still struggles some in this area, but it has helped me simply by knowing that this is why she may have been having problems in math and thus gives me better ideas of how I can better help her. With my son, It told me exactly what his earlier therapists and school psychologist had told me. I found this to be very beneficial.
The only other value the test provides me is if a test comes back and my kid is WAY behind other kids. In the case of my son, who learned to speak later than most kids and therefore was actually doing very well for how quickly he had to pick up reading skills, was behind in reading. When I evaluated the problem, I found he struggled to read what he had no interest in. So, to build his reading skills, I ditched our reading program and bought books that he picked out. My son also does better with oral tests rather than written tests, so I orally questioned him throughout the reading of his books to ensure he was doing the work and understanding it. I ended up giving him a test the following school year and his reading comprehension level went straight up to where he was supposed to be.
My kids have excelled in some areas, but I never really put a lot of focus on those areas. Other than simply knowing that at times if they excel in that particular area, say Social Studies, I can take that knowledge, and relate it to something they are struggling in. For example, my oldest loves history and does well in it, so for problems with reading comprehension, I will provide more historical books for him to read to help encourage him to read for understanding.
I have to say that there is always one area with each kid that I was shocked they didn’t do as well as I thought they would because they do well in those areas with their school work. This is where I don’t think testing is the most accurate depiction of my children. They are not the greatest test takers, but I never was either. And as my husband would say, there are no scantrons in life. It’s really only in elementary and high school you have to take scantrons. College was mostly essay writing and reports for me. After college, the only tests I’ve had to take are a lot harder and require different life skills, not test-taking skills.