Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Standardized Testing Day 1

Lamb 1 took his first standardized test yesterday. I will blog more about testing later. Idaho Coalition of Home Educators organizes these testing sessions all over the state. Our area is quite large and over 400 students and parents participate this week.

Lamb 2 and 3 now have colds but since Lamb 1 is healthy I took him to the testing. Ram stayed home with the Lambs but he did need to go to church for a short time to lead chapel. He let Lamb 3 sleep in as long as possible and then took them to church and had them stay in a room away from the kids. I am wondering if Lamb 2's cold is really allergies because he has watery eyes. Lamb 3 is still getting over his sickness of last week but does better each day.

It was quite the challenge to get up and also get Lamb 1 up and both of us ready and drive to testing in the next city by 8am. I had no idea when I signed him up last August. Add in that sickness has made a lot more laundry and I was exhausted yesterday afternoon. I took a nap before taking Lamb 1 to track. I got up earlier today than yesterday hoping to not be so rushed today.

The testing is quite interesting-one person administers the test by discussing some sample questions with the group and then tells us when to start and stop the testing sessions. A large conference room is full of tables with one parent and whatever students from that family in grades 3-9 are testing. Our table is just Lamb 1 and me. Some tables have 3 students with one parent. The parent (or grandparent or family friend etc.) sits next to the child and makes sure they are taking the correct test at the correct time, that they are on the correct line of their answer sheet, etc. Parents are not allowed to read or help students with any part of the test. It was amazing to be in a room of 400 people and it was completely quiet for half an hour or whatever amount of time each test was. It was also amazing that home schooled students sat from 8:30-12:30 with only one 20 minute break and a few times to stand up and stretch.

I realize that ICHE uses the results from these tests to brag about how smart home educated students are. I realize that Idaho is a very free state and we are not required to do standardized testing. That is what makes it amazing that 400 people pay the fee and show up to do testing.

I don't honestly care how Lamb 1 does on the test. If yesterday is any indication, he won't do above average because we have not studied everything tested. I simply want him to have practice taking a test. I don't want his first testing sessions to be an important test like SAT. Perhaps we will also be pleasantly surprised with his scores too. And if there are areas with low scores it will tell us areas to focus in during school time next year. This also gives me a good idea of what kind of a tester Lamb 1 is. For future tests I will recommend that if he marks everything is correct on a problem, that if he has time at the end he needs to go back and check those answers extra carefully. I know that each test has very few with that as the correct answer, but Lamb 1 put everything was correct on several problems.

I don't think we will participate in testing every year. I know that Lamb 2 is at least a couple of years away from being able to participate-he simply couldn't handle the reading of this test even if it was a grade level below. He also couldn't handle that much sitting without breaks. It is a pain to do testing when you have other kids that aren't old enough for testing. I am glad that Lamb 1 is participating this year.

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