Unschoolers and Standardized Tests? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 10-01-2010, 10:38 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm a very relaxed homeschooling mom and I'm leaning toward unschooling, but I'm worried about testing. Here in GA, we have to do standardized tests every 3 years starting in 3rd grade. We don't have to report the scores, but we do have to take the tests. I would like to unschool my kids, but I'm concerned that they won't do well on their test scores if we're not covering the state standards yearly. Even though we don't have to report their scores, I'm a recovering type A and I know I'll have a panic attack if they test low. Any other unschoolers who have to comply with these kinds of regulations? If so, how do you approach meeting this requirement? How do you manage your own expectations? Advice welcome!

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#2 of 6 Old 10-01-2010, 11:42 AM
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As unschoolers in BC Canada we voluntarily take part in a program that requires standardized testing in the 4th and 7th grade years. It's been fine. We haven't done any test prep at all. The kids have coped with the testing matter-of-factly and without any stress. They found the experience somewhat amusing in its irrelevance to their lives and what they see as true learning. And that was that.

I managed to get past my own over-achiever tendencies by very carefully and intentionally measuring my responses and observing how easy-going my kids were about it all.

They did very well on the tests, actually, which were designed to test basic literacy and numeracy skills rather than content-oriented knowledge. That was a pleasant surprise, as was how non-traumatic it all was for them.


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#3 of 6 Old 10-01-2010, 12:45 PM
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Ds had to take his first standardized test last year in 3rd grade. We were able to pick from maybe a half dozen approved tests. I ordered it online and ds took it at home. In our state, the results do have to be turned in to the SD. But they don't determine eligibility to continue homeschooling or anything. It's not a pass/fail sort of thing. Maybe they would look twice if a child was slipping significantly lower on the percentages with each test. We have to demonstrate progress and scoring a 10% on a third grade test and then a 10% on a 5th grade test is progress. One can also have the child take the test early enough that there is time to take another one if you feel are unhappy with the results and think it's important (I wouldn't just for the sake of higher scores but would if homeschooling was somehow riding on doing well, but, it doesn't).

Ds did fine on the test. He was grumpy about taking it so he did it in many little pieces over the course of a week (totally allowed under the test directions). Each section is timed but there are many short sections and breaks in between can be as long as you like. He was frustrated with parts and my only goal was getting him to actually do it and not skip sections. I wasn't really concerned with the score, just the getting it done as happily as possible because it was required by law.

Ds was unfamiliar with some things on the test. I did go over some things briefly like different ways to write a math question and when to capitalize letters in a sentence. He did well with most of the language arts section because he has a good vocabulary and I told him to just pick what sounded right for the grammar fill in the blank sections. He was a new reader so he was overwhelmed by the length of the reading comprehension section (2 one page stories followed by questions). I recommended he read the beginning and end of the stories and see if he could figure out the answers from there (because he was really close to refusing to do it at all). That worked well for one story. But the other was a sillier one that was less logical and it didn't work as well for that.

Anyway, if I were you, since it doesn't matter how your kids do, I'd just read a bunch of books or articles about the pointlessness of testing and focus on changing my own attitude towards the tests.

Mom to unschooling 4everboy since 8/01
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#4 of 6 Old 10-03-2010, 05:46 PM
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We're not complete unschoolers, but were very loosely structured eclectics and my experience is that CAT's are a breeze and if that is all you need to take I wouldn't stress it. Since you mentioned 3rd grade I imagine that is what you are taking. My school board says they require the Standard of Learning tests SOL's, and these made me nervous, to date I have managed to avoid them, but the SOL's are more subject specific. I am not worried about math, reading comprehension and those sort of basic learning, but the idea of preparing her for a history test when I don't know which parts of history are covered in what grades in the schools makes me neurotic.
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#5 of 6 Old 10-11-2010, 09:45 PM
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We also just have to take math and language tests, every other year starting in 4th grade. You have to score above the 30th percentile, or you're subjected to additional oversight by the state (we always wonder about the public school kids who score low - do they have to be homeschooled until their scores improve?). According to our local hs group, even VERY relaxed hs'ers don't have a problem with the tests. I can see how I'd have a hard time if my kids didn't do well, though! (DS is just 1st grade this year, so we're a ways out yet.) Mostly I just want my kids to do better than my more structured hs friends (I know, that's bad).

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#6 of 6 Old 11-11-2010, 01:40 AM
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