View Full Version : Testing/Assessment

08-07-2013, 08:39 PM
How do you all test or assess your kids' learning? I never felt the need to. I always feel like if I don't know if they've learned something, then I must not be paying attention. We always have great discussions about things we're studying and I can tell what they're learning.

I also like to have my kids do projects at the end of a big unit. We've done file books, art projects, even a stop-motion animation.

BUT - my oldest is in 8th grade now and I'm beginning to feel a little of that high school pressure coming on. That maybe he needs to take tests every now and then.

What do you guys do?

08-07-2013, 09:40 PM
I mostly assess the way you're describing. Just paying attention.

We also do a portfolio assessment where I write up what we've been doing and we choose sample work to put in it (and then throw the rest away).

This year, for the first time, I gave them a faux standardized test - just a prep one from a cheapie book. We did it like a test though, all quiet and so forth. I don't think it was absolutely necessary. My kids are only in 3rd grade. I'm glad I did it because it was interesting and it showed me some minor things, but mostly there weren't a lot of surprises. They did well on the math and reading and bombed the language. Because they do okay on math and they read well but the way we do writing is nothing like the multiple choice style of public school. But my main goal wasn't so much assessment as it was to introduce the idea of standardized tests as a part of life.

For me, if my kid was going into 8th grade and had no experience with standardized testing then I would personally start doing a little bit with it. SAT's, ACT's, AP exams, and maybe community college classes that use multiple choice tests are all potentially in the near future for your ds. I wouldn't see it so much as assessment, but just an upcoming life skill, like being able to follow a budget or fill out forms or the like.

08-08-2013, 07:01 AM
This is going to sound glib, but I talk to ds: ask him questions directly, indirectly, ask for help with a math problem (measuring, fractions, division, et cetera). I have him write out thank-you cards on his own, ask him for help spelling a word and remembering facts about science and history...that kind of thing.

Come to think of it, if he doesn't realize I'm being sneaky, he probably thinks I'm an idiot :D: "My mom can't remember 10 divided by 5??"

I am with Farrar, though - if your kid is getting closer to high school and college, he needs to start having some practice and experience with test-taking...especially how to deal with things like multiple-choice, any anxiety, constructing paragraphs, etc.

08-08-2013, 08:46 AM
I haven't done any formal testing with my DS yet, but I hear you on the eventual need. I think this will be the year I give him his first major standardized type test, just for the experience of it. He will need to be taught how to choose the less wrong answer in multiple choice questions, even when he comes up with better choices. He will also have to learn how to figure out what the test is looking for, how to simplify his base of knowledge to make it fit. It seems ridiculous and anti-educational to me, but I know it's a necessary evil.

08-08-2013, 08:55 AM
I think that high stakes testing is different than testing knowledge/mastery of material covered.
We have always done projects, also, for the end of unit things. A couple of years ago, a few tests started appearing. I have allowed these to be open book, for the most part.
For high stakes testing, my kids are woefully deficient. :p We did do the National Mythology Exam last year, just to have experience with a timed test with bubbles. That was a great experience for my kids.

Stella M
08-08-2013, 06:45 PM
When my eldest reached high school age I started outside classes, here and there, so she could have the experience of being 'graded'. She's done exams, had essays marked, given and received peer feedback, done multiple choice type things...for me, it's about exposure to outside assessment so that when she goes to uni she'll be OK with it. It isn't so that I know how she's doing. I know how she's doing without testing. Interestingly she gets better outside grades than I'd give her, if I graded. I don't know if that makes me a hard marker or the world too soft.

08-09-2013, 12:50 AM
We homeschool through a charter school which requires the kids take the STAR test, usually just in Math and Language but once in awhile they have to do one in Science and one in History. Its a multiple choice, bubble in the answer test similar to an SAT, same poorly worded questions, etc. I actually did a lot of research on standardized tests while I was in graduate school because the University decided to use the Physics GRE as a qualifying exam and then unofficially started using those scores for admissions and suddenly there were no incoming women into the department...hmmm. Once I started studying testing I managed to raise my score almost 200 points!!! There's definitely a skill to taking these stupid things. You can download the CA star practice tests - they're actually longer than the real tests - and have your kids take them to see how they do. Each year a few weeks before my kids have to take them officially we do the practice test and they're allowed to ask questions - usually trying to figure out what the hell the question is asking. Sometime we find a topic, like prime factorization, that we haven't covered so I teach that before the real test. They do very well on the tests and I'l probably have them take the AP tests in high school after we do certain subjects I don't think they're high scores tell me what they'v learned...it tells me they know how to take a multiple choice test. But unfortunately many schools depend on them.

08-09-2013, 08:28 AM
Most of our text books have test sections at the end of each chapter, we also do the NAPLAN testing in years 3,5,7 and 9. It's the National numeracy and Literacy test which is a crock but hey it looks good in a portfolio.