Monday, May 2, 2016

TESTING: A Homeschooler's Story

I currently only homeschool ONE of my children.  The other two attend public school.  So, the issue of standardized testing very important to me.  On the one hand I understand the need for some sort of assessment that helps schools to know how well they're doing.  On the other hand, I see how standardized testing comes with baggage that can hurt our schools as well.    I'm wary of too much time being spent on "test taking techniques," or of too much pressure on kids to do well on these tests.

I've personally seen the push towards more academic pressure in the early grades which high stakes testing can lead to...a trend which researchers say doesn't lead to any later gains, and which can burn out students on school and actually lead to worse results later on.   I was disheartened to hear our son's kindergarden teacher say that she had been discouraged from incorporating too much play-based learning in the classroom, exactly the type of learning that is so essential at that age.  And I see testing, and the pressure it puts on schools, as the main driver of these misguided trends.

Equally troubling is hearing from my son, towards the end of his 5th grade year, say that they were "finally doing more labs" in his science class "now that testing was over."  Things like that make me concerned that testing is negatively affecting what goes on in the classroom.

But while I left testing behind when I decided to homeschool my youngest,  not every homeschool parent can do that.  In some states yearly testing is required for all homeschoolers.  A homeschooling friend from one of those states shared the following story with me, which she graciously allowed me to share here:

We are doing our annual Stanford test.  It's online which is awesome because I don't have to worry about occupying the other kids at an away location for the entire 4 days of testing required to accommodate my family.

However, this testing is still troublesome to me.  I do understand why PA wants testing in certain grades.  I get it.  They want to make sure that no one is educationally neglecting their kids.

But!  Today has been heartbreaking so far.

I walked up the the boys' room this morning to get DS(9) up for testing.  Inside I hear hushed tones:

DS(9): Please don't go out.  I don't want to start those tests.

DS(11): I need to pee!  I've gotta go out to the bathroom.  And it doesn't matter, she'll come get you anyway.

DS(9): But I hate those tests.  They make me feel stupid.  I want to know if I got the answers right.  Let's just stay in here and stay quiet.  Maybe she'll forget to start the test.

DS(11):  She gets an email telling her the codes to type in for our test sessions.  That email isn't going to let her forget.

DS(9): [crying now]  But I don't want to take those tests.  And if I don't do a good job, they'll make me go to school.  I want to stay home.  I hate tests where they don't tell you if you got an answer wrong right then and there.  

DS(11):  Instant gratification shouldn't be necessary in a man your age.

We hugged and I reassured him as much as I could, but I just hate having this kind of morning.

I also told him that no matter how he does on the test, I will fight tooth and nail for him to make his own educational choices.

I just had to share our crappy day with people who will understand.

What is your opinion of standardized testing?  Do homeschoolers have to take standardized tests where you live?

Linking up at...

Simply Knowledge Homeschool

1 comment:

  1. I dint like testing for every kids...I have on that shuts down on tests ;-(