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December 12, 2014

State Testing Options for Homeschoolers

HSLDA Senior Counsel Dee Black assists members with questions and issues regarding Arkansas homeschool law. He and his wife homeschooled their children. Read more >>

Home School Legal Defense Association recently assisted a member family in Benton County who was seeking to substitute a standardized test of their own choosing for the one designated for homeschool students this school year by the Arkansas State Board of Education. This family utilizes a curriculum that measures student achievement in part by having students take the California Achievement Test. The test designated for homeschoolers by the state board is the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, which will be administered in April 2015 to students in grades 3–9. These tests are administered each year at education service cooperatives located in different parts of the state.

Arkansas’ homeschool law authorizes the executive director of an education service cooperative to approve a parent’s request for alternate testing procedures, normally involving administration of the designated test on a different date at a different location with a different proctor. However, since the 2006–2007 school year, the Arkansas Home School Testing Office has been overseeing the testing program and approving requests for alternate testing procedures, including requests to use a different test. The only qualification in the law for the test is that it must be a “nationally recognized norm-referenced achievement test.”

Typically, the testing office mails information about upcoming testing to homeschoolers in January of each year. Included with this information are directions for parents who wish to seek approval to have their children take a different test. Assuming their request is granted, the test must be administered by someone who meets the requirements of the test publisher. By law, any costs associated with alternative testing procedures are the responsibility of the parents. They should expect to furnish the testing office with a receipt showing purchase of the alternate test. Test scores do not have to be reported to the testing office. More information about state testing may be found online.

On our recommendation, the Benton County family contacted the testing office and received assurance that their request would be granted after they provided the necessary information in response to the scheduled January mailing.

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