“Do you test your kids?”
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been asked that question! I’d be surprised if you haven’t. (If you haven’t you probably will eventually!) If not by a skeptical or concerned family member, then you’ll probably be quizzed by a fellow curious homeschooler. “Should I test? When do I test? Do YOU test?”
Of course.. if you live in a state that requires testing then all of this is probably moot. Everyone probably assumes you do because you’re supposed to do so.
But if you live in a state that doesn’t require it, like Texas (I do so love Texas for letting ME teach my child!), then you may have even wondered about testing yourself.
Do we test?
Starting at about 2nd grade and maybe once a year,… I’ll periodically test the kids on basic skills to see how they do and so that they’re comfortable with those types of tests. But I’ll be honest,.. I don’t put a lot of weight on them. Why? Because all tests are different for one thing. Because I already have a pretty good idea of what my child and can’t do for another. It’s not that testing is BAD, it’s just that I watch my kids, day in, day out. I’m observing whether or not they’re progressing through their math book and getting it or getting stuck and confused. I can see if their reading, writing and spelling skills are moving forward or getting stagnant. And since we stop and work on problems when they come up, we take care of them right away. The main reason I test is just so that I know how they score (and really, mostly because it makes my husband feel better, too.)
So if you’re in the mood for a little testing, but you don’t want to spend money on it,.. where do you start? No problem. I’m the queen of “free.” Well, maybe not. But I do have some free sources for you.
To test Reading Level:
- Various reading level tests at The Phonics Page
- Two reading level tests, including the San Diego “Quick Assessment” at A 2 Z Home’s Cool Homeschooling
To test Spelling & Math:
You can’t really find spelling and math level tests (outside of state tests), so what I sometimes do is use PLACEMENT tests for a ball park idea. If the curriculum we’re using doesn’t have placement tests for each grade level, you can find free downloadable online placement tests from companies you trust – like Saxon or Horizons Math, or All About Spelling for example. If your child just finished 3rd grade, and they can pass the placement test to start the 4th grade book, you probably don’t have anything to worry about. You can also use Testing Practice books purchased cheaply from Amazon such as Spectrum Test Practice Books or Scholastic Test Workbooks. I’ve used either of these before at various points.
For overall testing:
The Texas Assessment of Knowledge & Skills is now available online for free.
So that’s pretty much it. Again, I’m not super legalistic about testing because I’m observing my kids throughout the year anyway. And the fact that the kids can keep progressing from one math book to the next is good enough for me. But I do like to test at the end of the year (it keeps the husband happy!)