Sunday, July 19, 2009

Standardized Tests

I recently began researching standardized tests as Casey will be taking one during the 2010-2011 school year. Georgia requires homeschoolers to take a standardized test every three years beginning at the end of third grade, although the State does not require that those results be submitted to public school authorities. “Students in home study programs shall be subject to an appropriate nationally standardized testing program administered in consultation with a person trained in the administration and interpretation of norm reference tests to evaluate their educational progress at least every three years beginning at the end of the third grade and records of such tests and scores shall be retained but shall not be required to be submitted to public educational authorities.” O.C.G.A. § 20-2-690 (c)(7).

Georgia third graders in public school take the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT). Knowing what I’ve heard and read about the CRCT, I know that I do not want my children to take that particular standardized test, nor do they have to. I just don’t feel as though my third-grader needs to be tested on, and thus forcing me to teach outside of my planned course of study, Frederick Douglass-civil rights, Susan B. Anthony-women's rights, Mary McLeod Bethune-education, Franklin D. Roosevelt- New Deal and World War II, Eleanor Roosevelt-United Nations and human rights, Thurgood Marshall-civil rights, Lyndon B. Johnson-Great Society and voting rights, and Cesar Chavez-workers' rights. [Topics on the Social Studies portion of a recent CRCT.] Fortunately, Georgia does not dictate which standardized test a homeschooler must take, just that it must be a national standardized test.

I was, however, a bit stunned at the volume of standardized tests available to a homeschooling parent of a third grader. So, to do my part to possibly help another parent make an informed decision about which test to give, I have compiled the following information, listed alphabetically, from various online resources. A list of testing suppliers can be found here. NOTE: This is by no means a comprehensive list, but merely a list of the tests I’ve considered.

California Achievement Test, 5th edition (CAT/5)
Grades: K-12
Administration: Parents administer the test at home and send it back to be scored. You have two weeks after receiving the test to administer and return it for scoring. Scoring takes 3 to 8 weeks.
Subjects tested: Reading, spelling, language mechanics and expression, mathematics, study skills, science and social studies.
Format: A timed test with five test formats available, descriptions of which can be found here.
Results: Results are printed to include national percentiles, scale scores, grade equivalents, stanine results, and other data. You must request percentile scoring and /or stanine results or you will only receive raw scores and grade equivalents.
Other: One comment I read while researching the CAT is that it is popular among Christian schools and home schools because it contains more traditional values than other standardized tests. Also available are the CAT (original) and the CAT/6 (the 6th edition) - I have not researched the differences between these and the CAT/5.

Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS)
Grades: 1-12
Subjects tested: reading, language arts, spelling, math, science, social studies and reference skills.
Results: You receive a professional critique with the scores.

Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS)
Grades: K-12 (grades 2 and below are tested orally)
Administration: 4-year baccalaureate degree in any field required for administrator. From the ITBS official website: “Test materials for use with home-schooled students can be obtained through the public school district where the student resides or through the AEA that encompasses the student's residence. Arrangements might be made for such students to test at the local school when students of that district take their tests. If the district has a home-school assistance center, arrangements for testing might be made with that center.”
Subjects tested: K-2: Vocabulary, Word Analysis, Reading Comprehension, Listening, Language, Mathematics, Social Studies, Science, Sources of Information. Grades 3-8: Vocabulary, Reading Comprehension, Spelling, Capitalization, Punctuation, Usage and Expression, Math Concepts and Estimation, Math Problem Solving and Data Interpretation, Math Computation, Social Studies, Maps and Diagrams, Reference Materials, Word Analysis, Listening.
Results: Raw Scores, Percent Correct, Grade Equivalent, Developmental Standard Score, and Percentile Rank.
Other: For more information about the ITBS, go to the official website here.

Personalized Achievement Summary System (PASS)
Grades: 3-8
Administration: Parents administer the test at home and return the test for scoring and analysis. Test should be given twice per year, with at least 6 months between testing recommended. You have four weeks after receiving the test to administer and return it for scoring.
Subjects tested: Reading, language, and mathematics.
Format: Untimed test.
Other: This test was developed specifically for homeschoolers. Additional information can be found here.

Stanford Achievement Test (SAT)
[Not to be confused with the Scholastic Aptitude Test - SAT - for college]
Grades: K-12
Administration: Administrator must have a baccalaureate degree in any field plus other requirements, and the test publisher has strict guidelines which must be followed when testing a relative.
Subjects tested: Reading, math, language, spelling, listening, science and social studies. The exact subjects covered in a test will depend on the child’s grade level.
Format: A timed test with multiple choice, short answer, and extended answer questions.
Results: Scores given are in relation to other students. There is also an explain of how your child did in each area and suggestions for improvement.


Katherine said...

Great work on compiling that list. We in NC have to test EVERY year after the child turns 7. We have used the CAT and IOWA. I prefer the IOWA, it has more questions and in more comprehensive.

Have a great week!

Anonymous said...

I have always used the IOWA and liked it very much, however this year I decided to use the PASS test and regret using it, I do not believe it was the best choice for my children. It only test english, math, and reading. They want you to pretest to find the levels that your child should test in each subject (which sounds helpful) but in return was not so. I prefer the method of testing in the grade they are in a see where they fall, then work on the individual areas with Pass it was not broken down as well. Hope my opinion helps.

DMIUC796 said...

How can you get a hold of the standardized tests? I am a sophomore in high school and am very interested in getting homeschooled next year. If I have to take a standardized test, where would my parents get the actual test/material. Also, does that mean I have to take a test when I am in 12th grade? I also live in GA. Thank you so much!