Minimalist Homeschoolers – state homeschool testing. It’s testing time. In our state homeschoolers must test three times before high school, 3rd, 5th, and 8th grade.
Andrew is done with all of his mandatory homeschool testing, he is just aiming for Saturday’s ACT college entrance test. Emily has her 5th grade test to take. We took her 3rd grade test as late as possible, because she was struggling with her vision and reading the test slowly, would have been a hindrance on a timed test. After going through vision therapy, she tested and we saw an accurate picture of her ability.
This year she is reading up to speed and we need to plunk her down at the testing center and see what she can do.
Tests are a good measurement for how the “teacher” is doing and for accessing progress (weaknesses or strengths) in the students. As a minimalist homeschooler, I just don’t test every subject weekly. Informally, both kids are tested everyday, as we don’t move on to the next topic or skill until mastery of the first. I don’t sit down and conduct a weekly spelling test, a formal math test, a history test etc.
The draw back, without that weekly testing, I do need to do test-prep before these formal assessments, so that both kids shine to their ability. We will:
•do the practice test
•talk about test taking strategies (i.e.. eliminating the wrong answers, when to make an educated guess, moving on to come back later etc.)
•set the timer and give them the chance to feel how long the test will be
•give them a good breakfast and a good night’s sleep before the test.
Limit the stressing out over the test.
Watching our state public school testing and listening to my professional teacher colleagues, I hear how much of their teaching time is spent teaching how to take a test. One teacher told me that for the next six weeks, part of each day will be spent in the computer lab testing his students; 90 minutes each day with groups of his students testing.
Ninety minutes is probably what we spend preparing for the test, and 90 minutes is probably our test taking experience. The results will be the results. I would only retake the test if something was really off. Otherwise, I have a snapshot of her ability on one day of 5th grade, and we are moving back to education.
Minimalist homeschooling is not avoidance of the test or neglecting to give the kids the tools to take the test. It is setting up the right scenario, taking the test as few times as needed, and getting back to quality learning experiences.