This blog is dedicated to my mom friends who are brand new to the homeschooling adventures and who are used to school IEP meetings with all that talk about progress monitoring. Well, I’m here to tell you: Welcome to homeschooling, now forget about what the school was doing.
Seriously, there are all kinds of ways to measure progress or do assessments within the home-school setting. And, many are very easy to give. There are all kinds of ways to document progress such as portfolios, running records, book and video logs, and online record keeping. In addition, homeschooling is not like public school. You control the curriculum and the pace of instruction to fit your child. You know where your kid is at and what they need to work on. Homeschooling allows for the personalized and individualized instruction that will help your child thrive.
Here are some testing resources (there is more available than listed):
- Phonemic Awareness from MLPP Second Edition (print off, administer, & score yourself)
- K12 English Language Arts Placement tests for K-middle school (print off, administer, & score yourself)
- About Education has detailed explanations how to create your own reading fluency test with books you have to assess speed, expression, and accuracy.
- ACE Reader has a free reading fluency and comprehension test for K-8th grade.
- Reading Skills Assessment is a word list type of reading test.
- San Diego Quick Assessment is a word recognition reading test.
- National Right to Read has a Reading Competency Test for free.
- Schonell Reading test is a word recognition reading test.
- AVKO’s placement test for Sequential Spelling.
- Basics Word List is for word recognition through 3rd grade. You can find Dolch reading word lists that go higher than 3rd grade online too.
- Pathway Readers has an online reading level assessment.
- Book Adventure is a free, online program similar to the public school’s AR (accelerated reader) program. Kids pick books or stories and take quizzes that are scored.
- English Placement Test is an online test of a student’s knowledge of English grammar and usage.
- Institute for Excellence in Writing has a spelling placement test.
- Elements of Mathematics has a math aptitude test to determine if qualify for their higher level math courses.
- Math U See has math placement tests for determining what level your child should be at within their curriculum from their earliest levels through calculus.
- Math Mammoth has a math placement test for determining which level of their program your child should use.
- Alpha Omega has placement tests for determining what level your child should be at within their curriculum from Monarch Math and Language Arts, Switched on School House, LifePac Math and Language Arts, and Horizons Math Readiness.
- Sonlight has free placement tests for Quick Reading Assessment, Let’s Go Learn Reading, Signapore Math, Saxon Math, Horizons Math, and Teaching Textbooks
- Calvert has free placement tests for their programs.
- MindSprinting offers free assessment tests for K-12 in reading and math. They also sell other services, but the assessment tests are free.
- Internet 4 Classrooms provides links to all kinds of assessments for K-12, including high school subjects, SAT & ACT for free.
- PearsonAccess ePAT has practice end-of course exams online for high school students (from Florida).
- Scott Hochberg has nicely organized the Texas STAAR practice exams by grade level and the high school end of course exam. This site is much easier to navigate than TEA. And, if you live in TX you may want to check this out if you plan on having your homeschool student return to public school.
- Time4Learning is an online educational program for preK-12th with grade tracking. Time4Learning has all subject areas.
- Mobymax is an online educational program for K-8th with placement testing when first start and grade tracking. Mobymax has reading, writing, math, and science right now but will be adding social studies.
- Scootpad is an online educational program for preK-8th with placement testing when first start and grade tracking. Scootpad is only math and reading.
- GiftedAndTalented.com (formerly EPGY) has an online math and ELA class that gives a placement test and has grade level tracking.
- Testing Mom is a test prep site for all kinds of tests.
- Study Island is an online program that covers materials for the different state tests. It is by grade level and tracks progress. It is slightly different than test prep in that there are lessons to accompany each quiz/tested area.
- Easy Test Maker is a service for making your own tests.
If you want more formal, standardized tests, homeschoolers can give ITBS (Iowa Test of Basic Skills), SAT-10 (Stanford Achievement Test – 10th Edition), CAT (California Achievement Test), or the Terra Nova. These are norm-referenced tests that are used by some public and private schools. In some states that require testing, these are often the suggested tests to use. BJU Press Testing & Evaluation, Thuber’s Educational Assessments, Triangle Education Assessments, and Seton Testing Services sell these standardized testing products to homeschoolers. Riverside Publishing also sells ITBS directly to homeschoolers. Hewitt Homeschooling sells the PASS (Personalized Achievement Summary System) test which is accepted in 6 states that require testing. You can also contact a local home-school group to see if any of the coops or private schools will let you purchase a testing slot with their group. Some homeschoolers give these tests yearly, some give these every other year, and some don’t use them at all.
Homeschool students can also participate in the national talent searches through Duke Tip (4th-12th), John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (2nd-8th) , Belin-Blank Exceptional Student Talent Search (4th-9th), and Northwestern University (3rd-12th). Each program has a way for a parent referral and special codes to enter for homeschoolers. These talent searches then allow access to special programs and events at these universities or online for qualifying students.
If you have an older student that is college bound there are tons of places that have free SAT, ACT, PSAT practice tests. In addition, Kahn Academy has free tutorial videos. If you are looking to earn college credits for some of the homeschool classes your child has taken, then you will want to research CLEP exams. Empty Nest Mom Goes to College blog is filled with resources to help navigate the use of CLEP.
Just remember, in most states testing is not required. In some states, documentation is not even required. You do not have to feel like you must do testing. If you live in a state where testing is required, check your state requirements to see what is required. In addition, the testing used in homeschooling is not like the high stakes testing and doesn’t have the external pressure like the public school. Whatever tests you choose to use should help you with identifying the educational needs for your child. Don’t test just for the sake of testing. In addition, you can obtain grade level functioning via many of the online programs used or placement tests for some of the curriculum without having to give high pressure tests. You may also do progress documentation via a portfolio. The point is, do not stress out about testing even if you are in a state that requires it. One of the key advantages of homeschooling is less testing than public school and the focus on the instructional needs of your child at his/her pace.