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Homeschooling: Special Needs
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Testing FAQs

HSLDA recommends that parents who are homeschooling struggling learners and/or children with special needs arrange for regular evaluations and document their child’s progress. It is important to keep accurate records demonstrating how you are meeting your child’s special needs and how your child is progressing. As a general guide, the more severe the special learning need, the more frequent and thorough the evaluations should be.

What types of tests/assessments are used to measure and document progress?

  • Curriculum-based assessments, such as end-of-unit tests, parent-teacher made tests, quizzes, or evaluations.
  • Informal and ongoing assessments, such as checklists, rubrics, oral reading records, anecdotal notes, work samples, portfolios, student learning logs, journals, etc.
  • Standardized, achievement tests (nationally normed).
  • Informal reading inventories and other diagnostic reading tests (such as the GORT-4 and the QRI) which must be administered by an educational diagnostician, reading specialist or reading clinician.
  • Speech and language and audiology diagnostic screenings and assessments (to assess articulation, language processing, expressive and receptive language, and/or auditory processing.
  • Psycho-educational testing (to include tests of cognitive abilities and an achievement test, as well as other diagnostic tests to assess processing areas) conducted by a licensed professional

Visit the HEAV website for a list of testing terms, definitions, and how to interpret testing results.

What is the purpose and benefit of testing/assessment?

  • Homeschool parents, because they work so closely with their children every day, usually know fairly accurately where their children are academically. But by regularly evaluating, it keeps us on the path of effective teaching. Remember the aim of a diagnosis is to help develop a plan of remediation.
  • Assessment should drive and direct our teaching.
  • Assessment has the potential to silence our critics.
  • Standardized tests can affirm both your child’s learning progress and the effectiveness of your current teaching strategies.
  • An objective evaluation can encourage teacher and student and also provide confirmation of your success to other family members, friends, and the state, where required.
  • Reveals your child’s strengths.
  • Standardized tests might also point out weaknesses that you may not have noticed. You can then work to improve in these areas.
  • Assessment can give us new insight into our child’s challenges

Which standardized test should I use?

Required standardized tests vary from state to state. Check your state requirements here >>

Standardized achievement tests:

1. California Achievement Test (CAT):
Parents are permitted to adminster the CAT test and it is available through Seton Center.

2. PASS Test:
Personalized Achievement Summary System Test (PASS), a norm-referenced test especially developed for homeschoolers in grades 3-8 by Hewitt Homeschooling Resources. Results show both overall achievement and performance in each of the three subjects, which are reading, math and language. The PASS is an untimed test. Testing twice a year is recommended to obtain a more accurate measure of achievement. You must give a placement test before the actual achievement test. Alaska, New York and North Carolina have officially approved the PASS Test for state reporting.

3. Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement:
Woodcock-Johnson tests must be individually administered by a specifically trained administrator. A computerized report of scores is given. Note: There are also W-J tests for cognitive ability. Again, the publishers of this test require it be administered by a licensed or specifically trained professional.

4. Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) for grades K-8 and Iowa Tests of Achievement and Proficiency (TAP) for Grades 9-12:
The Iowa gives a lot of subscores, so you can see more clearly how your child did on each different subject. It is easily administered and provides the required information for a very reasonable cost. Many large support groups provide this test. The publisher of the ITBS tests have specific requirements and rules regarding test administration and the examiner’s credentials.

5. Stanford Achievement Test:
Many private schools use the Stanford. The publishers of the Stanford test have specific rules and regulations regarding the examiner's credentials and test administration.

How do I choose which grade level of the test to administer?

Most of the time it is wise to choose the test level based on what grade the child would be in if he was enrolled in traditional school. In order to make the most practical use of the scores, you should not test above your child’s reading level. Choose the grade level that most accurately reflects his current functioning level in the majority of subjects.

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