Friday, April 15, 2011

Testing... testing...

My homeschooled kids are doing some of their standardized testing today. That means it's quiet around here. (Insert sigh of bliss.)

In theory we don't have to do this every year. We make it an annual event because it's far less effort than compiling a portfolio of work for each kid. Plus, I'm pragmatic: test-taking is a life skill needed for many years, and I don't want my children to flip out when they finally arrive at a standardized test that matters. I completely, utterly, totally don't care about the results of these annual tests. I already have a pretty good idea of where my kids are academically.

Hence these tests are mainly for the benefit of the school district. The powers that be want an objective measure that proves I'm not a total pedagogical screw-up. That's fair. I suspect they look at the test results exactly long enough to decide if they need to send me to the principal's office to enroll my kids in public school. If the answer is no, they check off that I've sent in my paperwork and close my file. I doubt anyone at the main office cares if my kids are in the 50th percentile or the 99th. They don't offer me merit pay based on performance.

Do I teach to the test? No. I pull together materials that are rich and engaging (or at least solid and to the point), and then a few weeks before we do our testing I double-check to make sure we didn't miss anything. Last week I had to explain to Little Guy what an antonym is. It took about 37 seconds, no worksheets required.Which is about my tolerance level for teaching to the test. I'd rather teach the kid.

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