Following the proverbial mid-year slump, which many homeschoolers are familiar with, thoughts of spring awaken. Accompanying these thoughts of spring - park days, seeing flowers in bloom, and buds on the trees - is a reminder that year-end assessments and evaluations are not too far away. And possibly, as the year winds down, that little voice in our head may come calling, provoking questions about the year's accomplishments. We sometimes worry. We may question ourselves and we may wonder if we, as home educators, are preparing our child to succeed out there in the big, wide world.
Although academics is only a portion of what our children need, you might find yourself wondering, during your own mid-year slump, if your child is “on-track”. To put my own concerns to rest, I administer the year-end assessment sometime during the “dark months”; January, February, or March when I am really feeling the hum-drum of winter. Each year, I find myself relieved we chose to test “early” as it pushes away those pesky doubts that had built up over the months.
First, the results of the test allow me to put aside any doubts I have that my child is not academically progressing, which then allows me to comfortably plan the remainder of the year. With this method, I am also planning ahead for the next learning year and comfortably finishing up our portfolio.
Secondly, by testing mid-year, I avoid the end-of-the-year rush. The mad-dash for testing can be avoided by ordering and administering assessments through the end of March. Realistically, however, end-of-the-year testing is most common and best for many, but be aware that testing companies get quite busy in April, May, and June, which can cause delays of materials and results. If you plan to administer a year-end assessment, order early!
There are many formal assessments and Standardized Achievement Tests available. You can choose, hard copy or online tests and each website will list other services offered. I have purchased the CAT (California Achievement Test) through the Family Learning Organization, Seton Testing, and Academic Excellence. There are many other testing companies available and a comprehensive list can be found on the Granite State Home Educators' Testing and Evaluation page.
By Lauren Lawless