One question that most homeschoolers face is whether or not to test their student. Standardized testing can have its benefits and its drawbacks, but the decision is often based on the learning style of the student. For some students, taking a test can determine where the knowledge of the student is and therefore help to focus on weaknesses later on. For other students, however, taking a standardized test will not capture their whole knowledge, such as those with dyslexia.
So here are the pros and cons to standardized testing, based on my own experiences. I’ll let you be the judge on what the right decision is, whether or not to homeschool.
NOTE: Some states require that students are tested annually. To know whether or not your state does, check HERE.
The supposed goal of tests is to measure the academic progress of your student, and is also the main reason homeschoolers test their students. Providing an objective measurement can help homeschoolers to focus on weaknesses during the next year. It can also help students’ self-esteem, but at the same time can hurt it due to “bad” results.
Another reason that I’ve heard is to provide a reality check for your student. Some homeschoolers think that they are learning better than they actually are, so by having that objective measurement some students are able to realize where they need to focus their attention.
Another reason to test is to prepare your students for required testing later on in life. If your child expects to go to any kind of good college, they will need to take either the SAT or ACT, which are both standardized tests aimed to measure college readiness. Good test scores can also allow students to win scholarships that require a certain score or higher. I can personally say that the testing I did when homeschooled definitely prepare me for the PSAT and the two SATs I took.
Everything that has at least one pro, must have at least one con too, and testing is no exception. One con is that your teaching style may be different than the testing style. As homeschoolers, we generally have the flexibility to teach what we want to, so why can’t testing be the same way? If you teach differently than the school, then the logical conclusion is to test differently than the school.
Another problem is that a standardized test may not capture the full knowledge of your student. For some students, a standardized test doesn’t fully cover their knowledge, so therefore a different type of test is needed.
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The important thing is to know your child. If you think that the student will not do very well on a test because of the way that it is set up, then you might not want to go through with it.
My personal opinion is that students should be tested if that is the right way to go. When I started testing around the 5th grade, it was a whole new experience. I didn’t fare so well with it, but it didn’t really affect my self-esteem. I knew what to focus on during the next year, and that’s what kept me up. After that initial testing experience, I started to increase my scores to the point of outstanding. My parents ordered in the California Achievement Test annually to test my siblings and I, and that’s what I continued to take until the 10th grade when I entered the Early College Alliance, who tested me themselves.
I hope this helped anybody who’s undecided on whether or not to test their student, and don’t forget to subscribe above! Have some thoughts yourself? Post a comment below!
2 thoughts on “Standardized Testing: Pros and Cons”
Great post!! We are presently discussing levels of intelligence and standardized testing in Developmental Psychology and to your point regarding how a test does not capture an individual’s full scope of knowledge–this aspect can leave a child and their parents slightly dismayed that their child isn’t testing at a level that they think they should, when in fact, the child may simply have testing anxiety or aren’t being tested in the areas where they are doing exceptionally well in. Another point to consider is the difference between competency in a subject area vs performance. Some children retain and regurgitate information immediately after they learn it, so their performance on a test may reflect what appears to be a high aptitude but it does not show whether the child is truly competent in the subject matter they tested so well in. A good example I read recently was on spelling lists; the child studies the list for a week and on test day, they score 100% but a day later the child is right back to misspelling the words they got correct on the spelling test because they have no true competency in being able to understand why a word is spelled the way it is, how to recognize when you’ve spelled a particular word wrong and then be able to perform the correct spelling of the word over and over and over again beyond the testing window. This was good food for thought!
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Thanks for the great comment! It’s funny that you bring up spelling lists because that kind of regurgitation has gotten under my skin the last few years with my siblings. My mom would have my siblings and I repeatedly write down a list of a dozen words or so, and at the end of the week she would test us on them. The problem was that my mom would test us in the exact same order as the list. Because us students had already memorized the order of the list, we were able to hit 100% easily. However, once I started at the Early College Alliance and I had to take vocabulary tests, it became extremely harder. I was given 30 terms and needed to figure out the meaning of them all. Even though only 15 terms would be on the test, they were all randomized. I needed to know the terms individually, not as a group. Thanks again for the comment!