Pros and Cons of Standardized Testing in Your Homeschool

 

When it comes to standardized testing, some states require all students to participate – regardless of if they are educated in a public/private school setting or attend homeschool. However, in some states homeschool parents retain the right to waive standardized testing for their children. The reality is that standardized tests have their benefits as well as their drawbacks. If you’re just curious about the process and want to know if it’s for you, hopefully this list of pros and cons can help you make an informed decision about whether you want to include standardized testing in your child’s curriculum.

Do you use standardized testing in your homeschool? Read this list of pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.

Pros of Standardized Tests

1. Many programs, colleges, and scholarships that your child might want to pursue in the future will require that your child have taken certain standardized tests. Most notably, the SAT. By including standardized testing in your homeschool, you ensure that your child will be able to provide the necessary documentation when the time comes. {Read more about early, organic SAT prep for homeschoolers in this post.}

2. As mentioned, some states require standardized testing as a part of the graduation process. Without it, your child would not be awarded an official high school diploma, which can have a negative impact for both college and career plans.

3. Taking standardized tests can help you to measure and track your child’s test-taking ability. This not only helps you to determine if they are learning and applying concepts well; it will also help you to gauge how they compare to their peers.

4. They can help you to spot any weaknesses that your child has and develop a plan to address those weaknesses. For example, your child might excel at multiple-choice but not perform well with essay-writing. That gives you the opportunity to focus more on reading comprehension and writing skills.

5. Test-preparation and test-taking are two skills that will likely come in handy later in life, especially if your child pursues a career that requires them to take tests for certification or advancement, such as law, education, medicine, and civil service.

6. Because standardized tests are designed to provide objective measurements, many homeschool parents find that standardized test results provide them with a level of reassurance that their children are on track. They also find that having those test results on hand can be beneficial when talking to friends and family members who doubt the viability of home education.

Cons of Standardized Tests

1. Some students simply do not test very well. Students who have learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia might find test-preparation and test-taking to be highly frustrating to get through and may perform poorly. Some students experience high levels of test anxiety, which can result in poor test scores even when they know the material. Because of this, test results can be inaccurate measures of students’ learning abilities or knowledge base.

2. It will come as no surprise that standardized tests do not always test what you teach. This means that many home educators may be tempted to “teach to the test”. In other words, they focus on covering those topics and concepts that will definitely be on the test in an effort to improve their child’s chances of performing well.

3. Standardized tests do not measure the length and depth of everything that your child is learning. There are many wonderful things about home education that simply cannot be measured with a single test. Especially if you go above and beyond the typical curriculum that is followed in the traditional school setting.

4. It can be generally stressful to both the home educator and the child to prepare for and take standardized tests.

5. The time that you take to teach the material that will be on the tests is time that you could have been using to go over other topics that are more interesting. It also takes away from the time you could be spending on fun and educational experiences.

As you can see, there are several pros and cons when it comes to using standardized tests in your homeschool. I hope that this will help you to make the best decision for you and your family.

Let us know in the comments: Do you use standardized testing in your homeschool? Why or why not?

~Sara


Sara (295 Posts)

I'm a reader, writer, dreamer, wife, and homeschooling mom of 3 girls. We take a relaxed, eclectic, Charlotte Mason-leaning, Montessori-ish, literature-rich, delight-directed, almost unschooling-at-times approach to learning. Lots of unit studies, field trips, and lapbooks, too. I like to blog about our learning adventures (plus faith and encouragement) at Embracing Destiny.


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Comments

  1. Danell Pribis says

    We have had to use Standardized testing. I guess its not a real problem – gives another dynamic to education. But, in the area of being able to capture all my kids learn in home school – a test could never contain it all or allow for my students to express that kind of learning. I have had six kids. My last two are very open about the difficulties and the fact that they don’t really care to take this assessment test. We have had to endure probation this school year because they didn’t take it seriously. ;( However we have had quite a nice journey in remedial work and learning about the different curriculum out there to help out with daily skill building. I am impressed each year I home school with the selection of materials we have to choose from and I have been home schooling for 20 years.
    I have had years when I didn’t have to worry about what was on the test, the kids did well and then these last few years I have had to review the tests because it didn’t go so well and input that into our daily scheduled work. (Use the low scoring areas /subjects as content in our IEP.)

    • says

      Sounds like you have a lot of insight with your experience. I’m sorry you’ve had to go through academic probation, but glad to hear that you’ve persevered and found a way to make it work for your kids. That says a lot about your dedication and wanting the best education for your kids! And I totally agree — standardized tests are not an accurate reflection of the whole educational experience and skills that our kids gain through homeschooling.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment!

  2. Melanie says

    I think you missed the biggest risk. A bad test score especially ona special needs learner might be used against you as the homeschooling parent. To justify why a child should return or start a public education that likely wouldn’t meets their needs any better.

    • says

      I agree that’s true IF you’re submitting the test scores to the school district. If you’re just keeping them for your own information then you don’t have to worry about that. Some states *require* the tests and then you have no choice either way. I have a daughter with special needs and there is no way a standardized test would be an accurate reflection of her ability. We do much better with a portfolio of her work to show progress. I also agree that school districts can and do use those standardized tests against homeschooling parents at times. That’s an unfortunate situation all the way around. For the purpose of this article, I mainly wanted to address the pros and cons when standardized testing is an option, not a requirement. You make another good point for homeschooling parents to consider if they have a choice in the matter. Thanks for commenting!

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