This post was written by Robert Bortins, CEO of Classical Conversations®.
4 Reasons Not To Do End-Of-Grade Tests
It’s a decision every homeschool family needs to make — whether to give your kids an end-of-grade test. Be sure to know your state’s laws regarding testing because some states require it while others do not. Of course, you can still decide to test even if your state doesn’t require it. If you live in one of those states, here are four reasons not to do end-of-grade testing.
1. You feel like your worth or your child’s worth will be reflected in the results.
The first reason not to participate in end-of-grade testing is if you feel as though you might overreact to the results by assigning them a value beyond what the data reveals. C.S. Lewis wrote, “You can’t get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only by putting first things first.”
Unfortunately, modern methods and analysis of end-of-grade test results have fallen into this unfruitful pattern, and testing is treated like it’s more valuable than learning. At Classical Conversations, we encourage many other ways to assess your student in addition to testing.
If you elect to have your child do end-of-grade testing, the result may show that your student scores above or below grade level. Frankly, that single data point is only one of many factors for you to consider. The weight of your child’s score compared to what you know as their loving parent and primary educator is but one partial measure. You have the liberty to review test scores and evaluate growth in character, skills, discipleship, and overall learning.
It’s true; the results will likely reveal some weaknesses or strengths. But being above or below grade average is not correlated with worth. If you feel like your worth or your child’s worth will be wrapped up in the results, you should not test.
2. You feel like you might need to re-evaluate your entire history of homeschooling decisions.
The second reason not to participate in end-of-grade testing is if the results will tempt you to question every homeschooling decision you’ve ever made.
For example, I’ve seen families drop math programs because a student didn’t score as hoped on an end-of-grade test. The family then changed math curriculums. This cycle repeated itself, and by the time the student was in high school, they had used half a dozen different math programs. It’s no wonder they were struggling to do well, jumping from program to program and learning math a little differently each time.
Sure, sometimes there are reasons to switch programs. But you must have the fortitude to endure the stress of less than desirable results and consider what actions or options are most prudent. If one test result is likely to cause so much stress that you’re instantly tempted to rework your entire homeschool, you shouldn’t test.
3. You feel like you have a good grasp on your student’s actual or potential blind spots.
The third reason not to participate in end-of-grade testing is if you already have a handle on the areas of your home school that need attention.
End-of-grade testing helps shine a light on areas we may have missed or neglected in the preceding year. Sometimes we think our students understood something, and the test result reveals it’s been missed. The results are not intended to be a spotlight on circumstances like this. But they can illuminate areas where additional energy may be focused or redirected in the future.
If you already feel confident that you know your weak spots or have another plan in place for seeking them out, you have another good reason not to test.
4. You feel you have a good plan that prepares your student for future tests.
The fourth reason not to do end-of-grade testing is if you have a system in place for familiarizing your student to fill out third-party administered tests in the future.
When I was interviewing for my first job, I had to fill out a test administered by the company. When I went to get my driver’s license, I had to take a test. When I decided to go to college, I took an entrance test. In college, I took tests. Since graduating from college, I’ve had several reasons to take tests for different certifications, including bubble tests.
Although infrequent, tests will likely be a part of your student’s future. Your student can practice test-taking skills. If you provide opportunities for your student to complete their biographical information competently and complete a test, you have a good reason not to test.
Reasons To Consider End-of-Grade Testing
Indeed, there are multiple reasons to sign your student up for end-of-grade testing. A significant advantage is that they will be able someday to sit for a test and know, “Oh! I’ve done this before, and I know what to do!” It could be for a driver’s license, employment, a college entrance exam like the Classical Learning Test (CLT), or various other circumstances. In these cases, the results directly bear upon what happens next.
If you can assess the results of an end of grade test (good or bad) and evaluate them to determine what insights they offer — and stay far away from reason #1 — then it may be a good idea to have your student take an annual or bi-annual end of grade test.
Remember, it’s up to you whether to share the results with your student. End-of-grade testing isn’t wrong, but we must avoid putting the weight of first things on a test as many educators do. To do so can be very detrimental, even if your child scores 100%.
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