So...DD is 5. This was her "Kindergarten" year. Anyone with experience with the CAT test? What was the Kindergarten level test like? How did your children handle it? What's even on the test? I'm nervous.
Edit - experiences* Totally botched the title in my hurried state. Apologies.
Yes, we took the 2nd grade CAT test (actually the CAT 5 Survey, a shorter test but just as acceptable here) because in WA, 8yo is the age we need to start. We found the second grade level for that test to be laughably easy.
Ways I made it easier for dd, because she wasn't familiar with the format was to atlk to her about what was wanted. That was easy, because there is a script the parent (or test administrator) is supposed to follow. I had no ethical qualms with helping her understand what the test needed from her. (I also absolutely do not care that this might bump up her scores because a lot of school kids got an answer wrong not because they didn't know the material but because they misunderstood what was being asked.)
I also had no qualms about letting her pick up and put down the test as necessary, within the time limits we had to return the test and the materials (2 weeks). Some days we zoomed through 2 sections, she was having so much fun (yes, it was enormously fun for her). A couple of sections we moved through slowly.
Once again, I didn't lead her to answers, but I made sure she went carefully through the questions and all the answers, then let her make mistakes as necessary. I tried keeping my nose in the administrator's script to avoid putting undue pressure on her, but I don't think she was feeling it. (As much as I love unschooling, I still have a lot of deschooling to do!) I let her know quite clearly that we were just learning how to take a test, and that was exactly how I approached it. She did marvelously and had a lot of fun. Her spelling scores were dismal, but then we never focused on spelling much.
It helped for me that in our state the test results are for the parent alone. But now that I've been through that test, I would have no troubles facing it down again. I don't think this particular CAT test is very indicative of what kindergarten is doing today. Maybe other versions of the CAT that might be required elsewhere would be different. Anyway, that was our experience. I admit, a lot of stress over nothing, it turned out.
ETA: I also stressed about evaluation vs. test, and decided that the test would be less intrusive, and I wouldn't accidentally bring more academic pressure into my home by selecting the "wrong" evaluator. Testing was simple, private, and in the end much easier and less intrusive than I ever imagined.
Give me a few minutes while I caffeinate.
I wanted to add that dd1 loves this kind of thing, and that could have colored our experience with this test. She's going to thrive in a formal environment when she gets there. I won't need to test dd2 for another 1.5yrs, but I'm not sure I'm going to have the same experience with her. It might be close enough, but I might have more struggle with it, I don't know. She might be exactly the same, I don't know.
Glad that helps. Let me know what CAT you are taking and what it's like.
Give me a few minutes while I caffeinate.
Here we don't have to test until 8 yo and no minimum score is required, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I look through the test in advance and give dd1 a quick rundown on anything I think she's never seen before; last year it was dividing fractions. Other than that no test prep and she's always scored very well, though now at 12 she sees it as a hassle instead of the fun it was at first.
We usually take a month or so to finish, pretty much doing a section here and there when we have time. It could be done in a few hours but I don't believe they measure anything but "skill at test-taking"-I've faked my way to perfect scores on enough of them to know!- and so I sort of resent the wasted time and try to stretch it out.
Our experience with the CAT (Survey) was similar to SweetSilver's. Didn't have to do it until 3rd grade/age 8. It wasn't a big deal though ds didn't want to do it. We just picked our moments and did a little piece at a time over the course of a week. I tried to give him a quick review of some things that would be on it that I knew he didn't know, like when to capitalize. I explained for grammar that he should pick the words that sounded right. I explained the test taking skill of guessing between the remaining answers when you have already ruled out a couple as being wrong. He was a new reader at age 8 so he was overwhelmed at the reading comprehension section, several paragraphs of dense text. But if he covered everything but the line he was reading he got the gist of it.
We did the CAT for Kindergarten to second grade, then we tried the PASS in third grade. DD felt it was fun and still enjoys testing. We get "special pencils" (meaning I take her to the stationary store and she gets a couple of #2 pencils in designs of her choice), and a new eraser. For K, we didn't see any options for the survey (that seemed to start at 2nd grade), but the "Full battery" at that grade level was only 1.5 hours of testing total, spread out over however many days you wish. This year my younger child will be taking it! We did a little "kindergarten readiness" one last year largely because he wanted to "do a test" while his big sister did one. They think testing days are a blast. DD has even made CAT tests for her dolls with little bubble in answers.
Book loving, editor mom to 2
This is such a great way of handling it. The first couple of times I had kids doing standardized testing, we paired up with another family going through the same thing and made a real special occasion out of it. The various kids were working all over the house in different nooks, and we two moms spent our time bringing them special spritzers and teas and cookies to power their brains, checking in to make sure they were feeling okay about everything. Afterwards we had a junk food feast and went ice skating. With luck and creativity I think it's usually possible to keep something as weird-to-unschoolers as standardized testing palatable and even enjoyable.
By contrast my 11yo unschooler did not enjoy her standardized testing last month. She did it at the local school with the 7th graders there, and a couple of the school-kids were stressed and angry and resistant. One kid had a full-blown tantrum and she found that upsetting. The whole rigamarole took about 6 hours spread over four days and was pretty disruptive to her week. She's a super resilient kid, so there hasn't been any negative fallout from the experience, but I wouldn't put her through it again. Fortunately this was the last time she has to do it in our jurisdiction.
Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up
In Virginia, homeschooled children are not required to take a standardized test for kindergarten. So, if you like you can skip it altogether.
§ 22.1-254.1. Declaration of policy; requirements for home instruction of children.
The requirements of subsection C shall not apply to children who are under the age of six as of September 30 of the school year.
Hope that helps.