If you’re homeschooling children in grades K-12, standardized testing has probably come up at some point.
“How can you tell if your kids are performing as well as their peers?” someone may have asked you.
Fortunately, homeschooling has now been around long enough to put most fears about academic failings at rest (see Myth No. 1 in our post about homeschool myths).
It’s still a good idea, however, to consider letting your children take standardized tests for the following reasons:
Standardized testing gives a yardstick for measuring performance.
Because children in public and private schools are required to take standardized testing, homeschoolers can benefit from the nationwide ranking as an independent, third-party assurance that yes, their children are doing well academically.
However, when your children’s scores come back and you’re wrestling with percentiles and other such figures, it’s important to keep in mind that the results are based on percentile ranking, not academic requirements per se.
“Standardized test scores can be confusing because they tell you how your child did in comparison to other test takers. If your student scores in the 75th percentile, it does not mean that he or she got 75% of the questions right. It means that your child did as well as or better than 75% of the students in the norming group who took the same test. This is called percentile ranking,” explains the HSLDA in this article.
Testing can squelch extended family concerns.
Do you have relatives who are scandalized that you’re even trying this homeschool thing on your children? If so, take heart! A lot of us have been (or are) in the same situation.
Standardized testing can help reassure your family that your kids are doing well and being encouraged, not hindered, in their educational lives.
Even if your child ranks less than average in a particular subject area, take that as a suggestion that you may need to concentrate more on that topic during the school year. Often students can rebound in an area where they were formerly behind in, once you’ve identified the problem and targeted it for improvement.
Bonus for 2023: Take the Academic Achievement Study (10% off discount!)
We’re partnering with National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) and BJU Press Homeschool to conduct a research project that will provide new and helpful information to homeschool families, homeschool support organizations, policymakers, and the general public. This involves standardized testing to homeschool families at a 10% discount – learn more here!
We have updated this blog post, originally published in October 2014, for timeliness and detail.