6 Popular Achievement Tests for Homeschoolers

6 Popular Achievement Tests for Homeschoolers

This is the time of year when many states require homeschoolers to send in the Intent to Homeschool Form to their local school district.

If your state requires you to do an annual achievement test also, then you’ll likely need to list which achievement test you plan to use on this form as well. (Minnesota requires this!)

Deciding which test to use can be difficult for many homeschool parents. That’s why I wanted to provide you with a list of six popular achievement tests used by homeschool families.

They all have advantages and disadvantages, so you’ll need to look for the one that fits your family the best.

Questions to ask yourself as you review these testing options:

1. Do you prefer to give your children their achievement test yourself and do it in your home or do you want someone else to administer the test?

2. Can your child read well enough to do a fill-in-the-bubble test, or do they need a test that is oral or written for an early reader?

3. Can your child handle a timed test, or should you look for an untimed one?

4.  Do you want to be able to test your children all at the same time?

 Check out the comparison chart at the end if you just want a quick comparison.

Here’s a short review of six popular achievement tests:

Stanford Achievement Test- 10th Edition (also known as Stanford 10)

  • Available in paper format for K-12 and online for 3-12th grade
  • Untimedwith flexible guidelines, fill in the bubble format
  • Available in both Complete Battery with a Lexile Assessment and Abbreviated Battery
  • Qualifications to become a test administrator
  • Bachelor of Arts or Science degree OR teacher certification by state & complete training
  • Be approved by testing organization by completing tester certification form
  • Online testing option – the company is the tester and parent doesn’t need a degree to supervise
  • Where to find:

Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS)

  • Available in two paper formats for K-12
  • Form C 2008 for those who want older version
  • Form E 2018- ELL friendly and most up to date, full color and slightly shorter
  • Timed, but takes less time to administer than Stanford 10, fill in the bubble format
  • Permits greater flexibilityfor students taking tests out of grade level
  • Qualifications to become a test administrator
  • Bachelor of Arts or Science degree OR teacher certification by state
  • Be approved by testing organization by completing tester certification form
  • Testing multiple grade levels together works well 

       Grades 3-8 can test together and grades 9-12 can test together

California Achievement Test

  • Available in two paper formats and two online versions
  • TerraNova, Second Edition® CAT 6 for K-12 (the updated CAT 5)
  • CAT E Survey for grades 4-12 (shorter version)
  • Online California Achievement Test (timed and untimed versions – for grades 2-12)
  • Timed,fill in the bubble format, shorter than both the above tests (there is an untimed online version)
  • Testing multiple grade levels together works well  for some of the CAT tests

Grades 4-12 can be tested together with the CAT E Survey

NWEA MAP Growth Assessment

  • Online format, parent supervises
  • Untimed and adaptive to how the student is performing
  • MAP Growth K–2 is designed for pre-readers with audio-support and a kid-friendly format. For older students with special needs, they offer Text-to-Speech and other built-in tools designed to help them test independently.
  • Where to find:

Peabody Achievement Test

  • Oral test administered by a trained examiner
  • Takes 60-90 minutes to administer, scores available immediately
  • Tester will give test in your home, a public place, or using internet video calling
  • Non-bracketed, gives flexibility for testing out of grade level (gives true Grade Equivalency scores)
  • Where to find testers: Google search Peabody testers in your area

Woodcock-Johnson Test- Fourth Edition

  • Oral test administered by a trained examiner
  • Measures academic achievement, oral language, and cognitive abilities
  • Takes 60-90 minutes to administer but is not timed (extended version takes up to 2-1/2 hours)
  • Where to find testers: Google search Woodcock-Johnson testers in your area

The Minnesota State Law Regarding Annual Assessment of Performance

Subd. 11. Assessment of performance.  (a) Each year the performance of every child ages seven through 16 and every child ages 16 through 17 for which an initial report was filed pursuant to section 120A.24, subdivision 1, after the child is 16 and who is not enrolled in a public school must be assessed using a nationally norm-referenced standardized achievement examination. The superintendent of the district in which the child receives instruction and the person in charge of the child’s instruction must agree about the specific examination to be used and the administration and location of the examination.

IN MINNESOTA:

  • You are required to administer or have your child take a standardized achievement test each year.
  • You are NOT required to turn in the results to the school district.
  • You should keep the results in your records.
  • If your child scores at or below the 30th percentile on the total battery score, you are required to obtain additional evaluation to determine if the child has learning problems.
  • If you are registered with an organization that is a recognized Minnesota accrediting association, you are not required to test your children.

Check out the requirements for your state at https://hslda.org/content/laws/

Download a comparison chart of the six achievement tests HERE.

A New Way to Manage Your Home and Homeschool…

Each homeschooling family is unique, with specific needs and concerns.  But I do see a few common concerns amongst homeschoolers.

Oftentimes homeschool moms seem to feel overwhelmed with managing their homeschool planning and record-keeping as well as managing their home and the many needs at home. I remember this being a struggle for me as well.

There’s a lot to juggle!

We need to keep up with making meals each day…hungry kids mean unhappy kids, right?

We also need to keep the house semi-organized and clean so it’s a healthy and safe environment for the kids.  But with homeschooling, we’re home nearly 24/7, and with our homes being very “lived in”, it can be hard to keep up with the mess, right?!  Most homeschool moms struggle with this!

As kids get older, we have their schedules to keep straight as well as our own… we need a master planning sheet to make sure we don’t miss any appointments or lessons!

And these are just the normal mom things we need to do… add on homeschool planning, teaching, and record-keeping, and we can feel overwhelmed.

I struggled with these things too when I was homeschooling.  Over the years,  I developed some great resources and ideas that worked to make things run more smoothly for me in our home and in our homeschool.

 I started to share these resources with the moms I met with and found that many were greatly encouraged and helped by applying the ideas I shared. 

I realized that this could be helpful to more homeschoolers, and so with God’s help (and the help of several others!) I’ve put together “The Homeschool Life: All-in-One Planner” for homeschool moms!

Introducing The Homeschool Life: All-in-One Planner!

I’m so excited to introduce The Homeschool Life: All-in-One Planner to homeschool families because I believe it will truly help relieve some of the stress and anxiety that comes along with managing a home and homeschool.

The benefit of having a planner like this is that information on all aspects of the home can be found in one place!

This planner has a section for family planning, which includes calendars (both monthly and weekly) and important contact information and health information as well as “to do” lists. There are chore chart samples and suggestions for age-appropriate chores for each age.  There is also a chart and planning sheet for meals, to help you think through your weekly plans for meals on a weekly basis.

The next section is on goal setting and can be used to help you figure out the direction your family wants to go with homeschooling and in the discipleship of your children.  There are several pages of information for developing a missions statement and setting goals for your homeschool, your family,  and each individual child.

The third section is on school planning and record-keeping.  This section is a wealth of information to help make sure you’re keeping the right records for your state. There are several tips on how to keep good records, and also how to do school planning for each week.  There are sheets to record your curriculum used each year, what field trips you went on and what books you read.  There are weekly assignment sheets that can be used for planning your school week and also for keeping a record of what you’ve done each week.

The best part of the school planning & record-keeping section is that there’s an excel spreadsheet that will allow you to input the scores your students are receiving in each subject and it will automatically calculate their grade for you!  (This excel spreadsheet is  also on a flash drive so it can be downloaded to your computer.)

The last section is for your own personal spiritual growth. This is an important section because as homeschool moms we need to be getting our strength and encouragement from the Lord, and if we aren’t spending time with Him, it’s more difficult to persevere through the hard times.   This section includes a devotional for homeschool moms specifically, meant to encourage you in your walk with the Lord and in your role as a homeschool mom.  There are also journaling sheets and prayer request sheets to use for your own personal spiritual growth.

Along with the planner, you receive a flash drive with templates for all the consumable documents in the planner!

You can reprint documents as needed. With this flash drive, you should never need to purchase another planner again!  The only document you might need to reproduce on your own would be the monthly calendars, which you can find in Excel under the template section when you open a new document.

My prayer is that these planners will help you as a homeschool mom to have all the important information at your fingertips! All in one binder, so it’s easy to access.

I’ll be selling these planners at the MACHE conference this year, and after the conference, I’ll be making them available to buy online. Come and check them out if you’re at the conference this year!  And watch for it to become available here on my website soon…

Organizing your Homeschool Life

organizing-your-homeschool-lifeAs homeschoolers, we have a lot more “stuff” to organize and store. Books, resources, art and science projects, supplies for various activities and regular school supplies as well.

 

Plus we need to organize our homeschool days and plan for what we’ll be doing each day.  There’s a lot to remember, so we need to be sure we don’t forget something important that we need to do.  It takes planning!

 

Lastly, we need to keep good records of what we’re doing with our children academically both to fulfill state requirements and for our own benefit. (Most states require that you keep records of what you’re doing with your children academically)

 

Organizing Books/Supplies:

 

I don’t know a homeschooler who doesn’t have at least one bookshelf to store books in; in fact, most have several! We love books, right?  So getting a bookshelf is a must if you’re homeschooling.

 

I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but we have four bookshelves plus a large built-in bookshelf in one room.  And they are still fairly full of books!  It’s probably time to find a new home for some of them, I know!

 

When we were homeschooling, we used one of the bookshelves to store resource books and books that I needed as the teacher (teacher manuals, my homeschool binder, etc.).

 

Each of our children had their own school bin for their personal school books. This was a simple rectangular file type box with a handle.  The children each decorated their own box and kept the school books specific to their studies in that box as well as their notebooks and their weekly list of assignments. (More on the weekly assignment sheet later…)  Some of the children’s bins were messier than others, but the good thing was, with this system we rarely had a missing book. They were good about putting their books back in their bin!

 

 

For all the school supplies needed for art and science projects, we had a cupboard with doors to hide some of the mess.  I’ve seen others use the type of storage shelves with the cloth bins or baskets to pull out.  Cupboards with drawers work well too.  You need a good place for things like scissors, paper, tape, arts supplies, etc. and since this stuff is a little less neat looking, it’s nice to have doors to close and hide it a bit!  For more ideas on organizing homeschool stuff, check out this blog post from “The Real Thing with the Coake Family.”

homeschool-organization-e1402017673917

To help make sure that things get put back where they belong, you can label the shelves with whatever goes there, or if you have non-readers, put a picture of each item by where it goes. It takes a little work, but you can train your children to put things back where they belong and it will really make life easier for you.  There’s nothing more frustrating than having to spend half an hour trying to find what you need!  But if you have a place for everything, you’ll lessen the chances of that happening.

 

Organizing your Homeschool schedule:

 

How do I teach multiple children of different ages?

 

If you’re homeschooling more than one child, you really need to think through the logistics of your homeschool day.  I remember a few years when all four of our children were in elementary school and each needed my help with several of their subjects, I had to schedule out when they could have time to work with me on each subject!

 

In fact, if you’re teaching multiple children of different ages,  I highly recommend that you teach them together in as many subjects as you can to make your life easier.  It’s more enjoyable for everyone that way anyway!    History, Science, Art, Phy-Ed, Bible and Music are all subjects that can be taught together as a family.  The teaching time can be geared towards the oldest but needs to be kept at a level the youngest can also understand.  Then if there are assignments to follow the teaching time, you can adjust them to fit the age level of each child.  Unit studies are an excellent way to teach multiple children together.

 

For Math and Language Arts, you will likely need to teach each child individually because they both follow a specific scope and sequence.  By scope, I mean what they are studying.  Sequence refers to the order it is studied.  Both these subjects require that you teach concepts in a specific order.

 

For example, you can’t expect a child to read before they know the letters and the sounds of the letters.  You can’t expect them to write essays until they’ve learned to write letters, have learned to read well and know some grammar.

 

Math also requires learning concepts in a specific progression.  So you need to teach both Math and Language arts individually to each child unless you have two children who happen to be academically at the same place.

 

So think through who will need help with what and plan your day so that they don’t’ all need you at the same time!!

Planning out your weeks:

In my first years of homeschooling, I kept a notebook with a record of what I wanted to accomplish each week and what we did each day.  Then I graduated to a simple excel spreadsheet where I listed the weekly assignments for each child.

assignment-sheet

I would plan and write up their schedule on the weekend, and then put it in their school bin in a plastic protective cover so they could find it each day. They were responsible to make sure that everything on that sheet was completed each day and checked off.

 

When our children were in high school, I started using a computer homeschool record keeping program.  The one I used isn’t available any longer, but there are several good ones out there:  Homeschool Manager or The Well-Planned Day are both excellent record keeping systems.  The Homeschool Manager will also help you figure out grades and produce report cards and a transcript for each child.

assignment-sheet-from-homeschool-manager

I also kept a homeschool binder for important information related to our homeschool and our daily schedule.

 

 

Ideas for what to keep in your homeschool binder:

  1. List of curriculum used for each child for that year (include a copy of the table of contents if there is one so you have documentation of the scope and sequence of what was studied).
  2. Daily schedule for the family (I just listed what order we would do each subject that we did together, and also when I would be helping each individual child with certain subjects.)
  3. Weekly assignment sheets for each child for each week OR a list of what you did each day (daily log)
  4.  Reporting form for school district (copy of original) as well as any other correspondence from the school district.
  5. Immunization records
  6. Co-op information
  7. Scheduling info for school activities
  8. List of field trips completed
  9. Book list for books read
  10. School calendar (we just followed the public school calendar each year because the neighbor kids would always come and ask to play when they had days off, so it just seemed easier to take the same days off!)
  11. Copies of report cards if you choose to use them
  12. Testing information and results

Keeping Good Records:

 

At the end of each school year, I would collect the important information from the homeschool binder:  the list of curriculum as well as all the weekly assignment sheets for each child and any information that I needed to keep for records required by the state (testing results, etc.)  and put them in a manila folder labeled with the school year.  In MN, we’re required to keep our school records for at least three years.

 

It’s recommended that you keep some samples of your child’s work in each subject.  If you don’t have room to store a lot of extra papers, etc., you can just take a picture of what they’ve done and save it that way.  There were a few years where I was actually organized enough to create a scrapbook with samples of some of the kid’s best work in the various subjects.  We’ve had fun going back and looking at those over the years! There are some really cute writing assignments that I’m glad we still have to look back at!

 

Here’s a list of what you should try to save for record keeping purposes:

 

  1. Administrative Records:
    1. Yearly calendar
    2. Daily schedule
    3. Report cards (if you choose to use them)
    4. Expense Reports/Receipts
    5. Health/Immunization Records

 

  1. Student Records:
    1. Annual test scores
    2. Any outside classes taken including grades
    3. Any other important test scores (ACT, SAT, PLAN)

 

  • Non-Academic Information:
    1. Travel & field trips
    2. Honors and awards
    3. Sports activities
    4. Employment
    5. Volunteer work

 

  1. Academic Work
    1. Bibliography of texts and materials used
    2. Samples of work in each subject
    3. Names/Addresses of outside teachers
    4. Transcript (for high school)

If organization and making schedules isn’t your thing, it’s okay! You can still homeschool!  I don’t want to overwhelm you, just give you some tools to make life easier in organizing your homeschool life.  If you need to, just implement one of these ideas at a time and gradually work towards improving your organization in your homeschool.

I’ve also heard of families where they have a bin that they put everything related to school in and then quarterly they go through it and save out a few samples of their student’s work.  Do whatever works best for you!

Most importantly, I want to encourage you to seek God’s wisdom and guidance as you plan out your homeschool schedule and year.  Pray for wisdom on how to make your daily schedule flow smoothly.  God cares about even your daily schedule!  Rest in Him and He will guide you.

If you have some great tips for organizing your homeschool, please leave a comment and share it! I’d love to hear new ideas and others will benefit too!

 

trust-in-the-lord

 

 

 

organizing-your-homeschool-life