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Old 02-03-2012, 09:22 AM - Thread Starter
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For those of you in states that require annual testing, which test do you use & why?

 

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Old 02-03-2012, 09:41 AM
 
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I use the CAT because it is one of the least expensive and most convenient options (can be administered by anyone though PA stipulates that the hs parent may not administer the test). And it is multiple choice with no writing. Ds just needs to do the Language Arts/Reading section and the Math section to be in compliance with PA state laws.


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Old 02-03-2012, 11:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Do you use the survey version or the full length?  Do you do all subjects?


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Old 02-03-2012, 01:52 PM
 
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Originally Posted by AAK View Post

Do you use the survey version or the full length?  Do you do all subjects?


The survey because that's just the language arts/reading and math which is all PA requires:-)

 


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Old 02-03-2012, 09:14 PM
 
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We're not required to test, but we do.  I'm divorced from my son's dad, and some kind of third-party testing was part of the separation agreement by which he'd "allow" me to homeschool our son.  :p  

 

We used to use the CAT-3 test, but the past few years we've switched to the PASS test from Hewitt Homeschooling.  It's designed for homeschoolers, so it's more flexible, but also more indepth IMO.  For a couple years we did CAT-3 and PASS both and the results were comparable.

 

By 'flexible' I mean that there are no time limits.  Also, rather than everyone who is, say, 8 years old, taking the exact same test, there are 'levels' rather than grades.  The students results are still compared against peers, of course.  But if a child is 'below' their grade level, the standard test will be mostly out of their reach, whereas a lower level test will give a more accurate measurement of what skills they do have.  And a child who is 'above' level can easily max out a standard test, so you don't get a true assessment of what they're actually capable of.  The levels overlap, so as you go to a higher level it takes off the first few easier questions and adds a few harder questions at the end.  It's pretty neat, actually.  

 

The results give lots of information, too. Of course there are the standard percentile measurements against same-age-and-grade peers, normed against both homeschoolers who took the PASS test, and all US students (based on norms from other tests).  You also get a raw score -- this is not compared against peers, it's just your raw achievement level.  As long as this score is going up each year, you know you're progressing, even if your percentile score has dropped.

 

It also breaks down each large test (Reading, Math, and Language) into various areas and tells you if the results were Average, Below Average, High, Very High, etc etc.  

 

Anyway, we've found it an interesting tool and I would recommend it quite highly.  

 

Oh, we're in Canada and it's a US-based test.  It's usable in both countries.


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Old 02-05-2012, 12:39 PM
 
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We're not required to test where we now live, but were required in our old state.  We still test because I want my kids to be used to the concept. We spend time discussing the psychology of test taking, and keep the atmosphere as relaxed as possible.  We've almost always used Iowa Test of Basic Skills.  I chose it because I'm qualified to administer it myself.

 

One year we used CAT.  The kids found it much, much easier.  After she took it and heard the scores, the younger was under the impression that she was incredibly intelligent (um, no, profoundly average).  

 

I found the CAT annoying to administer -- the younger grades are set up so that you should mark the question answers in the book, but the place we got it from had the kids write on a separate sheet instead -- I thought that was confusing for the kids.  Also, the window we had to do the test was MUCH smaller than with the ITBS -- we get the ITBS WEEKS before we need it, and have gobs of time to get around to sending it back -- the CAT had about a 2 week turn around.  At our house weird stuff happens all the time, so it's better for us to have flexibility.

 

Last year older dd took the Stanford in a group setting so she could get a feel for group testing.  She liked it better than the ITBS, mostly because there isn't that timed math computation test (she's accurate but s.l.o.w. in math, so that high speed computation test made her really, really nervous).

 

For the record, older dd has now moved on to taking the ACT, PSAT, SAT, the written driving test, etc. etc.  I really think there's value in practicing test taking through the years -- by the time the kids get to higher stakes testing later in life, the basic mechanics of bubble tests will be familiar and "easy" to them.

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Old 02-05-2012, 06:41 PM
 
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I found the CAT annoying to administer -- the younger grades are set up so that you should mark the question answers in the book, but the place we got it from had the kids write on a separate sheet instead -- I thought that was confusing for the kids.  Also, the window we had to do the test was MUCH smaller than with the ITBS -- we get the ITBS WEEKS before we need it, and have gobs of time to get around to sending it back -- the CAT had about a 2 week turn around.  At our house weird stuff happens all the time, so it's better for us to have flexibility.


The CAT survey ds did in 2010 had the answer bubbles right with the questions, nothing confusing at all... That was third grade and we ordered from Seton.  Needing to send it back in 2 weeks sounds vaguely familiar but it wasn't an issue for me with just the one test for one kid.

 

Each section was timed but many of the sections were quite short and you can take as long of a break as you want between each little section. The time allowed for each section seemed plentiful but my ds wasn't one to agonize over answers. Ds took the test over the course of a week.

 


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Old 02-06-2012, 12:09 PM
 
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We didn't get it from Seton, although I don't recall why I didn't go with them.  I think we got it from Family Learning Org.  I think they were trying to keep the costs down by re-using the booklets, and simply providing the separate answer sheet.

 

So, yeah, my main gripes had to do with the particular place we got it, and not the test itself. But, hey, maybe someone new to testing will find some value in realizing they need to read all the information not only on the test, but on the test supplier.  

 

Looking at this right now, today, Seton is less expensive.  No clue what was going on all those years ago that I chose another place.  Various companies can't sell things to various states in various years.  Or maybe at the time I wanted to order, they had some glitch.

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Old 02-06-2012, 03:09 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Queen Gwen View Post

We didn't get it from Seton, although I don't recall why I didn't go with them.  I think we got it from Family Learning Org.  I think they were trying to keep the costs down by re-using the booklets, and simply providing the separate answer sheet.

 

So, yeah, my main gripes had to do with the particular place we got it, and not the test itself. But, hey, maybe someone new to testing will find some value in realizing they need to read all the information not only on the test, but on the test supplier.  

 

Looking at this right now, today, Seton is less expensive.  No clue what was going on all those years ago that I chose another place.  Various companies can't sell things to various states in various years.  Or maybe at the time I wanted to order, they had some glitch.

Gotcha. I didn't want anyone to be scared off from the CAT if your experience was an anomaly. My only goal with testing is cheap, simple, with minimal impact on ds, and compliant with my state's laws. Ds could take the PSSA for free at the local public school but that would not be a positive experience for him.
 

 


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Old 02-07-2012, 10:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone.


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