One of the big questions every new homeschooler asks is do homeschoolers have to take standardized tests. The answer to this question varies by state. Many states require annual testing, but in Texas, we’re not required to take standardized tests.
While I love the flexibility to not depend on the score of a yearly test, sometimes I get a bit freaked out that my kids aren’t at grade level (or at least somewhere in the neighborhood). I like to use tests to see where my kids need extra help and use it as a guide for picking our curriculum for the next year.
Do Homeschoolers Have to Take Standardized Tests?
Do homeschoolers have to take standardized tests? If you live in a state that doesn’t require annual testing, you don’t have to take standardized tests or any form of progress tests. However, I still choose to use tests with my kids. I don’t pay for official testing, but I usually find a similar end of year test online to have my kids take every year starting after third grade.
How to Use Homeschool Standardized Tests to Track Progress
We use end of year tests to check the following:
If Kids are on Grade Level
If your kids are above or below grade level, you can use that knowledge when purchasing curriculum. Why use third grade English if your child is ready for 5th?
What Subject to Focus on Next Year
If your child is behind in an area, you will know to focus on it with greater intensity next year.
Where to Seek Tutoring
If a child is doing poorly in one area for more than one year in a row, they might need another teacher’s prospective. If this happens, we look into using a tutor for that subject.
To Prepare Kids for a Traditional School Environment
Not all kids are homeschooled forever. Many will return to a traditional school system before college. Regular testing helps prepare them for the classroom environment.*****************
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Where to Find Free Standardized Tests for Homeschoolers
Mr. D Math
Surprisingly enough, the material on both the math and English side had some content at the earlier levels that Monkey was able to complete. I printed out a sample reading comprehension quiz for her to try, and while she didn’t get a perfect score, she did pretty well for a going-into-fifth grader. These test prep resources would be perfect for homeschoolers just starting the SAT or ACT journey (and those who want to get an early lead on things).
By far, the biggest options for test prep was math (with a name like Mr. D Math, you would expect that!). The videos explain how to do commonly-encountered problems on the math portion of the ACT and SAT. Monkey was even able to learn a thing or two on some math problems she had struggled with in the past.
Mr. D Math also offers live, online classes in life science, math, history, social studies, oceanography, and others for children who are in middle school and high school Fall classes start August 22, 2016. Math classes start with pre-algebra and go up through calculus. Classes run for the entire 10-month school year. We’re definitely earmarking these incredible classes for the future!
Follow along with Mr. D Math:
Your Local ISD
These tests can be a little tricky to find, but your local ISD likely has placement tests that they use in the public school system that you can download and take. Sometimes, these tests can be burried deep in the school archives, but I’ve had luck searching for “state or ISD name plus whatever grade placement test.” If you play around with the wording a bit, you should find several free options. These tests, however, often come without a test key, so you may have to take it yourself to find the correct answers.
Calvert Placement Tests
Calvert offers placement tests online to determine what grade your child should be placed in all the way through 8th grade. After that, Calvert is exclusively an online high school, so they don’t publish the assessment tests.
Test Practice Books.
We’ve found grade-specific test books and test prep books both on Amazon or at our local bookstore. We love the books with tear-out pages.
So, to answer the question of, do homeschoolers have to take standardized tests?, I generally answer, “not always, but why not?”