Standardized testing pros and cons

by Mary Ann on November 3, 2010

standardized testing picture

standardized testing

I was recently asked about the testing of children in home schools. I am certainly no expert but as a mom who home schooled and public schooled her children I do have some feelings and experience with the subject. So I will answer the question the best that I can.

When I decided to home school there were some things that I was really grateful to give up. Testing was one of them. I never felt that anyone got a clear picture of how my child was doing from the type of standardized tests that my children took. I had one daughter that began school at five. She was maturationally slower than some of the other students because of her birth month. She always did poorly on standardized tests because they were usually given before she had had time to grasp whatever concept or topic was being taught. As her teacher said, “Marie takes a bit longer to get something but when she gets it, it is locked in!”

Marie all grown up

That may have been true and the teacher knew that but this is what the record showed and this is what Marie began to believe – This child isn’t as smart as her peers.

My favorite subject is history. I love history. Guess what I always got the worst grades in. Yup, history. I had a hard time remembering dates. I could understand what people thought and felt and why they did what they did, but I couldn’t remember dates. History testing was a disaster for me.

I also loved to read. I really loved to read and I LOVED essay tests. I loved them because I was good with words. I could pass an essay test on a book that I had never read as long as I had a general idea of the story line. I’ll write later about why essay testing is valuable when done right.

home school testing pictureLet me share some comments about the issue of testing from others.

“In institutionalized teaching, testing must be done in order for the staff to evaluate their effectiveness. But standardized testing is expensive, misleading, inaccurate, and often emotionally damaging to children. Parents should…allow children to evaluate their present status against their potential rather than each other.

Here I have paraphrased a home school parent’s view on testing – [Testing allows parents to see how their children are learning compared to children of the same age and grade level across the country. It helps parents see their children’s strengths and weaknesses. Testing helps parents determine what areas they need to spend more time on with their children. Achievement testing isn’t the main goal of homeschooling. It is simply used as one of many tools to guide parents in educating their children.]

And finally a quote from the book A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille.

“Testing has a bad name for many people due to the conveyor belt, but it is an important part of teaching if done correctly…two types of exams really help teachershome school essay writing picture teach and students self educate: essays and orals.

The purpose of exams is to test the student’s acquisition of knowledge and ability to apply it. The real question is, “Have they learned to think?” p. 87-88

When we talk about testing it is important for parents to determine why they are testing and what it is that they want the test to tell them. This will assist them to decide to test or not to test.

Testing, when used properly can help parents in educating their children. As in most things we shouldn’t wholeheartedly embrace or reject until we have studied the issue, prayed about it and determined what is best for our family.

In the next blog I want to write about conducting home school testing at home and share a great oral exam one mother gave to her 8 year old daughter.

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