Wednesday, April 14, 2010
We've come to that time in every homeschooler's life (at least the ones in North Carolina) that bring fear and trepidation: Standardized Testing.
I wish I could say that I'm cool, calm and collected. But the reality is that it is a bit stressful for me.
Its not hard, really. Its just that these are the benchmarks that let me know if the goals I made for my students at the beginning of the year have been met.
I have done my best to keep on a standard course of study (as compared to a national standard) but the truth is that homeschooling isn't like traditional school -- no matter how hard you try to make it so.
Home educators have opportunities that reach far beyond what a conventional classroom can offer. We can get more done in less time, or we can take opportunities to spend more time on subjects of interest.
For example, when we go on a nature hike for science and we see a small snake, that might lead us down a herpetology trail. We might come home and learn about snakes in our area, which may lead to a study on reptiles of North Carolina, and so on.
Learning in this way is fantastic (even when its about snakes), but there are only so many hours in a day. When you seize every opportunity as a teachable moment you do so knowing that many things we learn will not be "testable" material.
We have chosen to educate our children in this way because its how I want them to approach the rest of their life -- always seeking to learn, not because it means we'll have higher test scores but because its fulfilling, enjoyable -- its what we're meant to do.
Standardized testing is a great tool. I would do it even if it wasn't required by law. Most things in this life are measured by test taking, and the skills they learn while filling out bubble sheets are also going to serve them as they enter the world.
However, I must remember the test is here to serve my students educational purposes, not for them to be its survey-able slave.
On days like today, as I hear pencils scratching across bubble sheets, I must remind myself that the world may measure educational gain by standards of testing, but being well-trained for life-long learning can never be measured by rank and score.
In our homeschool, success is largely immeasurable (even by the teacher) and for that I am thankful.
To my homeschooling, and traditional schooling, test takers: May you do well...and learn more!