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Monday, April 12, 2010

Tuesday’s Toolbox: Assessment Testing?

Tuesday's Toolbox button

Some states require testing. Others do not. We are blessed to live in a state where we are not required to test, but have access to free testing if we choose to use it. I have not gone that route yet, but might at some time in the future.

The key, here, is to use testing as a tool…and to not allow the tool to rule the school (I know, that was pretty bad, wasn’t it?). We’ve all heard the accusations that public schools “teach to the test.” I certainly don’t want that to happen at home, but I also know the similar dangers (first hand) of worrying over documenting our learning in the kid’s portfolios. The drive can easily become to fill the portfolio to prove they’re learning something. Human nature is weak, after all.

Test results can have real impact on how we view things. If your child does really well, then you’ll give yourself a pat on the back. But what if he doesn’t? Will you be hit with feelings of inadequacy and guilt?

The answer is in our perspective. There has not been a test devised that can truly test knowledge. Period. Then why test?

  • To accustom your child to taking tests, knowing that any college bound student will be required to take entrance exams of some type. And even an non-college bound student may need to get their GED.
  • To get an idea of areas that:
    • Your child is struggling in (you’ll probably already know this since you are teaching him).
    • You’ve not covered and probably should---let’s face it, with the wide world of knowledge, nobody can think of everything.
    • Your child has mastered.
  • To reassure concerned relatives that, yes, in fact, your child is learning something.
  • To reassure yourself that, yes, in fact, your child is learning something.

But never lose sight of a test’s limitations. It can be a starting point for evaluation, but in the end the proof will be in how they live their lives and you can see that every day. It’s in the way they talk excitedly about about something they read last week. Or make an unexpected connection. Tests are just another way of quantifying your child’s bank of knowledge---they are not the final authority on the matter.

Do you use assessment tests? I’d love to hear your perspective!

If you have a post you’d like to share, some common tool you like to use for uncommon learning, feel free to leave a link in the comments.


  1. Yes, we do testing and think that it's rightly applied as you've said. We don't want the test to rule us either. My goal has been to teach a love of learning and methods for learning! Thanks for brining this up!

    My toolbox link:

  2. Thanks for stopping by my blog! Hope you have a blessed day!

  3. I do use tests for my older student - it is an easier way to address the annual reporting to the school district than the other options in my state.

    And he has fun at the testing co-op blowing off steam at the gym.

  4. I agree that it can be an easy alternative for state reporting (if your state gives you that option)---it can also keep them from delving too deep into your curriculum or methods.

    Both states we have lived in while homeschooling do not have a testing alternative. The state we live in now requires us to keep a portfolio which demonstrates "regular and thorough instruction."


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