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March 2018 Subscribe to the Toddlers to Tweens newsletter >>

Vicki Bentely
Vicki Bentley

It’s Homeschool Testing Season!

by Vicki Bentley
HSLDA Toddlers to Tweens Consultant

It’s that time of year again when many parents are curious how their kids are “tracking” academically. As a homeschooling parent, you observe your child on a daily basis and can probably determine pretty accurately in which areas he is strong and in which areas he could use some additional help. His verbal interaction with you, his hands-on activities, his written work, periodic subject-matter tests (if you use them), and his achievement of goals you have set for him are all informal indicators of his progress.

Many parents find it reassuring to have some sort of guidelines for academic milestones, with checklists for evaluating progress in language arts, math, science, and social studies (K–8) as well as character development. (See the sidebar of “What Should I Be Teaching?” for a few scope-and-sequence guidelines.)

However, your state’s law may require that you periodically demonstrate your child’s academic progress. Some states require standardized testing, while others may allow for a teacher letter or some other form of evaluation—and of course, you might have no legal requirement but want to conduct a more formal assessment for your own purposes.

Whatever your reason for wanting to assess your child’s progress, there are some things you’ll want to think about beforehand.

Homeschool Testing Services

Consider Your Options

The three most commonly used methods of assessment are standardized testing, evaluations, and portfolio submission.

The method you choose for your child will depend upon your state’s legal requirements, if applicable; your family’s philosophical preference, and your child’s unique learning style. Consider the format that will best reflect your child’s true progress: While a visual learner may test well on paper, a hands-on or auditory learner may be better assessed by an online test, an evaluation, or a test utilizing personal interaction, rather than a paper-and-pencil test. In that case, you might choose to administer a standardized test first, leaving time for a follow-up if the results don’t match what you’ve witnessed in her day-to-day progress, or you may opt for an untimed test to reduce testing anxiety.

Here are a few resources to help you make the best testing and evaluation choices for your child:

While the links above are of general interest for all ages, if you have a high school student, here are a few special, additional considerations for you:

Keep the Results in Perspective

Think of a test or evaluation simply as a tool to assess your child’s progress, to let you know the areas in which she is doing well and the areas which may require some extra work. Maybe you overestimated her understanding of a particular subject area, or didn’t realize how quickly she was advancing in another.

As you review the results, consider the goals you set earlier in the year. How did you do? Are you on target, or do you need to adjust the course a bit for the coming year? Try taking this self-survey to help you determine how this year went, and whether you should make any adjustments for next year.

In the end, remember that a test or evaluation is just one “snapshot” of academic progress and of your child as a person. She is more than the sum of her test results!

Portions of this newsletter have been adapted from past newsletters found in the archives at

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