Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Testing 1-2-3

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 fulfillingenjoyable -- 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!


Tanya (In the Dailies) said...

Up here the Christian schools have to do it to prove they meet public school standards. Ellie started her testing yesterday. I can't believe they make kindergartners fill in those little circles! It's very stressful, but so far they seem to be doing well. Her teacher said a day without tears is a great success. Only six more days of this ...

Blue Skies said...

I was really nervous about doing it last year, but was pleasantly surprised about how well they did. We did the practice books, but I think what really helped is that they are "smarter than the test" since they are learning to think and not just spit out answers. I love your post - spot on observations about the beauty of homeschool. I'll be praying for them to be confident as they test! P.S. - We haven't talked in FOREVER!

Tracey said...

What a wonderful post!

So this is what God has been trying to tell me for two days but I haven't been listening.

Thank you for letting Him use you! You are a blessing!

Amber said...

Really? You get to test your own? Wow...we have to send ours to a testing site.

And this was beautifully said.

Except when you started talking about snakes. Because if we ever saw a small snake on a nature walk, there wouldn't be any schoolin' going on...there would only be running and hollerin' on part of their teacher.

Kristin said...

YOu'll have to celebrate with some yummy treat when it's all done!

Carpool Queen said...

I have to stop and remember that my child does not have to make the highest grade in his class on his tests just because that was MY desire as a child.

Deep breaths.

Becca @ My Crazy Good Life said...

Good luck!

I am surprised that the kids are taking the tests at home.. I think they make them come to the school or a testing center here. I was actually just thinking about that this morning, how taking them out of their learning environment isn't the best scenario.

Anonymous said...

The fact that our best public schools here teach to the test was one of the many reasons that we chose the school for our kids that we chose...and one of the reasons we're considering homeschooling again when we move this summer.

You are exactly right. I think the tests were created to help educators judge whether or not they were meeting the goals they set. Now it seems that the goals educators set are the standardized tests themselves.

I love what Blue Skies said about being "smarter than the test" and this is where we as parents, whether we homeschool or send our kids to school, need to be vigilant. It's our responsibility to see that our children are learning how to think and not just what to think.

Good post, Kellie! Hope the testing goes well so you can move on to whatever the La Vida Dulce Academy sets out to accomplish!

O Mom said...

You wrote this so beautifully! I get all nervous myself this time of year, but I have to remember that this is why I chose to homeschool too, so that they wouldn't have to always learn at somebody else's idea of what they should know.....Again you say it so much better than I.

I gave you a little award on my blog today! :)

Rachel said...

Next year our oldest will start the standardized testing, YIKES! I'm nervous already.

I'm sure you kiddos will do great!

His Girl said...

you just impress me to no end. Love your heart, your dedication, and your awesomeness.

what? that's a word.

though probably not on one of them fancy tests.

hee hee

Anonymous said...

I hope today went smoothly and I know that your kiddos did great because they are smart cookies :-)

lisa@littlesliceoflife said...

I think I'm weird. I LOVE standardized tests. I loved taking them when I was a kid and I love test week now that my kids are in school. No homework! And I love getting their scores.

I may change my tune this fall when I'm homeschooling my 9th grader.

Gretchen said...

I love the testing privacy "wall". J has her testing next week or the week after. I'm not a fan if the test is given an inordinate amount of weight (compared to the important process of learning & studying). But we d. Need standards. That's real life, as in jobs & pay grades. So I think it's good to have exposure, if nothing else.

You're an incredible teacher, & a superb mother. Those kids are going to FLY! xxxooo