PDA

View Full Version : Do you give tests for every subject?



Mack's Mom
04-27-2011, 10:35 PM
I will have a 9th grader next year and I'm curious what others do about tests. I know other states are pretty strict with rules and such, but I'm in TX and they are very relaxed about homeschooling. I realize tests are a part of school and she will be going to college, so they are necessary. But I'm just wondering HOW necessary and for all subjects.

We just started homeschooling in Jan. and we haven't really done any tests so far, but high school is a different animal. Do you give periodic tests for every subject or do you get a feel for when they "get" it and call it done? Are you official and school-like with grades, report cards and transcripts?

This is hard for me to explain. I don't want to sound like I will just give her an A for nothing, just wondering how exact home schoolers are. And I'm not talking about standardized testing, but chapter/unit tests.

dbmamaz
04-27-2011, 10:43 PM
I have not given any tests. In fact, I dont even 'grade' papers - i just keep giving them back to him until he gets them right. Same with the math. I know he'll need to deal w grades when/if he goes to college, but I'm thinking he'll start by taking one single community college class and I'll just coach him through it there, rather than put myself through the stress.

I've heard that, for transcripts, colleges KNOW that grades from a home-schooled student are meaningless - the real purpose for grades is to help the teacher know how much you are learning. So you just show they got credit for it. there are private schools that dont use grades.

Stella M
04-27-2011, 10:46 PM
No tests. No grades. We move on when they've either covered the material and/or 'got it'. I assess informally as we go along.

MarkInMD
04-27-2011, 11:14 PM
Math and Spanish get grades because we use computer programs that automatically do that. Well, not for all the Spanish, because there are worksheets that we work on together, and most of the time I talk it through with him. I wouldn't really consider grading anything else yet, although our kids aren't as old as yours.

Busygoddess
04-28-2011, 12:09 AM
If we're using a program that has tests as part of it, we use them. Otherwise, I use other forms of assessment. The text we're using as a spine for Biology has unit tests & a final exam. So, my daughter takes those tests (even though they only cover the text which is just a small portion of her actual coursework). Nothing we're using for her English has tests, though, so we don't do tests in that subject. I want them to learn how to take various types of tests, because they will take the ACT & SAT and will take tests in college. That is why I have them take tests if they are part of the materials we're using. However, I see very little value in tests as tools of assessment. I prefer projects, conversations, and other informal forms of assessment. Having my daughter do a project (or even write a paper), to show what she has learned about her current History topic (for example), will give a much better view of how much she really got out of the study than a test would.
For anything I will be putitng on their high school transcripts, there are grades & some kind of assessments. I require a B or higher for it to go on their transcript, so I need to grade something in order to have a grade for the course.

sallymae
04-28-2011, 10:59 AM
We live in SC and don't have to take standardized tests at the end of the year either. My daughter is in 10th grade for 3 more days!! Hurray!!. Any way, we test in English grammar, math, and science. I tested world history and literature till about the last 9 weeks and stopped. We discuss and move on. German is tested in the program. My daughter takes the SAT every year. You can sign up at collegeboard.com $47. Does not have to be a senior to take test. You can see what needs more work and colleges do look at these scores. I also do a transcript (current) at the end of every year. I don't want to have to think back 4 years and forget something at college entrance time. (find transcript form free online).

ClassicalLearning
05-12-2011, 11:43 AM
I use "tests" as assessment tools to find out what he needs more work on. We don't worry about letter grades, we aim for mastery in all subjects (as much as possible). His charter school does give him grades on a report card but since he's advanced in all his subjects it's only for record keeping. We stick it in a file and forget about it. Kids need to know how to test but they don't need to stress about testing. If you aren't required to give a report card and you don't want to do it then don't worry about it. If they know the material then giving an A shouldn't bother you.

CatInTheSun
05-12-2011, 02:59 PM
I have not given any tests. In fact, I dont even 'grade' papers - i just keep giving them back to him until he gets them right. Same with the math. I know he'll need to deal w grades when/if he goes to college, but I'm thinking he'll start by taking one single community college class and I'll just coach him through it there, rather than put myself through the stress.

I've heard that, for transcripts, colleges KNOW that grades from a home-schooled student are meaningless - the real purpose for grades is to help the teacher know how much you are learning. So you just show they got credit for it. there are private schools that dont use grades.

That's our plan as well. Also a great way to review note taking skills and class strategies (ask questions like, "What do YOU think is most important to the instructor? What do you expect to be on the test? Were you correct?"). I also plan to require my kids to come up with at least 3 questions on the subject and go to office hours. Few undergrads do this and it is a waste to not, plus many profs will give your grade a little bump up if they know your name/face from office hours or class (after all, it demonstrates extra effort, interest, and initiative). Colleges will certainly look favorably on CC coursework, esp if your student does well.

dbmamaz
05-12-2011, 05:34 PM
Oddly, my one neighbor who is a proffessor (of engineering, I think) and very relgious - says he can spot homeschoolers because they expect a lot of handholding and dont seem to work independently - so he's at least one proffessor who does NOT seem to appreciate kids who ask a lot of questions during office hours.

Martha
05-12-2011, 05:44 PM
This year:
Chapter tests for math and science.
LlfromLotR has 6 tests, plus quizzes and essays.
History ends with a CLEP, so that's the only test I required there.
Religion has a quarterly test.

Kirsji
05-12-2011, 07:00 PM
They have tests at the end of their math chapters, but I don't grade those "officially", I just use the scores to figure out whether they can move on to the next chapter or not.
Most of our subjects are based on reading (science, history, social studies) and very little note-taking at this stage. Most of what we do (science experiments) is hands-on and is difficult to grade.
Math, grammar, reading, spelling are all done until they are mastered, so I wouldn't know HOW to grade those. Math, geography, and other memorisation facts are drilled until they are mastered, too.

When they are in 11th grade, they can take college classes (as AP), so they will have plenty of experience with the grading system before they move on to full-time college work.

lakshmi
05-12-2011, 10:57 PM
Oddly, my one neighbor who is a proffessor (of engineering, I think) and very relgious - says he can spot homeschoolers because they expect a lot of handholding and dont seem to work independently - so he's at least one proffessor who does NOT seem to appreciate kids who ask a lot of questions during office hours.

Duh, the kids who go to regular school for 13 years get used to going up to the teacher's desk and being told to behave and go back to their seat! So of course homeschooled kids would seem like they need "handholding" because they're used to interacting to learn. Sounds like someone who'd rather be working on his own rather than teaching anyway.

Martha
05-12-2011, 11:21 PM
Wow. Godparent to several of my kids is a professor at a private university engineering dept. They say the exact opposite in general of their students. The student just don't try. They don't ask questions, they don't seek the instructor to get help, they wait until they are failing to do anything and by then it is to late. The professors I know, who love their work and enjoy seeing students do well, LOVE students who come up and ask questions and ask for help and ask what they need to do to do better. Yes, it can be frustrating when a professor feels they should already know the answer for whatever reason, but at least it shows the student wants to learn and it willing to do what it takes.

The only major complaint I hear about hsers is a lack of ability to schedule, keep deadlines, and follow directions. And actually, that's a general complaint, tho some might claim it worse with hsers.

dbmamaz
05-12-2011, 11:26 PM
Yeah, I sometimes wonder if he had one student he was particularly annoyed with, or stretched the truth to encourage his wife not to home school. Their church has so many home schoolers they have their own (large) coop, and honestly she'd be, I think, a great home school teacher.

InstinctiveMom
05-13-2011, 01:07 AM
We're in TX, too, and I don't test in the same way that schools do. Some of the work they do has unit reviews; they do those at the end of that unit. I do reading assessments periodically, but we don't do formal or standardized tests. I do keep grades, but like the others have said, they're more or less meaningless. I use a computer program called Homeschool Tracker to keep track of things, but we work on something until they have it down (or if it something they'll go over again and again through their schooling career, I don't sweat it as much). I don't do 'end of year' testing; when they've covered the material for that school year, we call it done.

I don't think that grades or testing are important until they're older. The main goal for us is building a strong foundation in the basics and to teach them how and where to find information they need when they need it. I think that's more valuable than drilling them endlessly or testing them into a coma :)
~h

CatInTheSun
05-13-2011, 11:24 AM
Yeah, I sometimes wonder if he had one student he was particularly annoyed with, or stretched the truth to encourage his wife not to home school. Their church has so many home schoolers they have their own (large) coop, and honestly she'd be, I think, a great home school teacher.

Yeah, I'm gonna bet that there's a lot more to that story of that guy. :p You'll definitely find a few profs that view their teaching duties as a necessary evil, but most are happy to talk with interested students 'cause let's face it, everyone in their real life is sick of hearing about their work! There's only so many times you can work Navier-Stokes into polite conversations! LOL Also engr profs rarely teach below the junior level (before the engr core courses) and engr programs are very competitive so any kids he sees are likely already weeded out.

I also cannot even IMAGINE a college student, esp a junior, telling their prof they were homeschooled or ANYTHING about high school. When students come to office hours does he lead with, "So, where did you go to high school? What's your sign? If you could be any animal, what would it be?" LOL IOW, during their brief interaction how would he even know????

There is a difference between going to office hours and saying, "I don't understand my homework." (which will annoy any prof) and saying, "I was reading in Chapter 3 about X, and I am struggling how it relates to Y." Or even, "I have worked through problem 4 to this point (sheets in hand, please), but I am having trouble figuring out how to get to the next step. Could you help me see what I'm missing?" I honestly think that hs kids are more likely to do the later than their ps colleagues -- they're used to working more independently and they are used to talking with adults." :) Formulating intelligent questions is part of what I intend to teach my kiddos during their HS/CC years. :)

dbmamaz
05-13-2011, 12:17 PM
Yeah, the intellegent question thing isnt happenning yet here. My 15 yo spent 8 years in public school, 3 of them in specail ed. We're focusing hard on math - both content and good habits (write down each step and label what you are doing) - and writing. I figure those HAVE to be strong before he can get near a college. Hopefully my younger one will be more inquisitive.

Ariadne
05-13-2011, 02:11 PM
No testing here. I'm thinking about give the CAT to two of my kids because my husband is curious, and if I'm honest I am, too.


Oddly, my one neighbor who is a proffessor (of engineering, I think) and very relgious - says he can spot homeschoolers because they expect a lot of handholding and dont seem to work independently - so he's at least one proffessor who does NOT seem to appreciate kids who ask a lot of questions during office hours.So kids interested in learning are dependent, and kids who don't give a rap are independent.

Uh huh. Call me an unbeliever.


Duh, the kids who go to regular school for 13 years get used to going up to the teacher's desk and being told to behave and go back to their seat! So of course homeschooled kids would seem like they need "handholding" because they're used to interacting to learn. Sounds like someone who'd rather be working on his own rather than teaching anyway.Yup.

jess
05-15-2011, 12:07 PM
So kids interested in learning are dependent, and kids who don't give a rap are independent.

Uh huh. Call me an unbeliever.

I'm willing to bet that even students interested in learning aren't asking for help until they're in trouble, possibly especially good students who were never really challenged and in need of help in grade school.

I know that describes me. I can't tell you how many profs said some variation of "If you'd only talked to me earlier..." my first try at college.

I wonder if it's more a matter of happy medium?

I can see it being a problem if a student came to every office hour basically doing all their homework there so that they can ask a question whenever one happens to come up, and I can see that type of situation developing with homeschooling if the parent wasn't paying attention to developing independence.

mommykicksbutt
05-17-2011, 08:18 AM
Our son is a 9th grader this year. I've used tests that came with the curriculum and then tossed them out because on closer examination they weren't asking relevant questions on the test. Biology for example, we used a web-based program that had tests about every third day (end of a chapter). These questions would focus on the minutia and the information that was given as a BTW with very few questions on the core of the material. Our son was getting frustrated then asked if he could not do the subject for a while. He was honest and up front explaining that he thought the curriculum was great the the tests sucked. So my husband and I (both have our BS in biology, hubby and MD with 2 medical specialties and me with Ph.D. in a medical specialty) sat down with the program, did the lesson and the applications for the lesson and took the exam. Afterwards it was a unanimous decision no more tests for that program. So, how do we assess his grade for biology with out tests? We do labs with microscope and dissection, he has a lab form to fill out, it gets a grade based on how complete he finishes the form and his participation and level of interest in the lab. Did he do all assigned lessons and assignments for the week? 100% for participation! Did we have a Socratic discussion on the chemical processes of the human body and the chemical balances necessary to maintain the physical organism in a conscious and live state? 100% for class discussion! Did he keep a notebook for the course and is it current with notes and diagrams from lessons, readings, labs, and discussions? 100% for notebook! There are many ways to assess grades other than tests and quizzes. You could do it solely on a term paper if you wanted. If he demonstrates mastery of the subject area than that is 100%.

In history, a program I pieced together from several materials, I have no tests or quizzes. He reads historical novels (earns points), does book reports (earns points), watches assigned films (earns points), does a film critic sheet (earns points), reads articles from history magazines (earns points), does field trips to historical sites (earns points), gives oral and written reports about people or events in history (earns points), keeps an up to date notebook (earns points), openly discusses his text readings (earns points), updates his map drawings (earns points), updates his timeline (earns points), does his work as assigned (earns points). All earned points are weighted against all possible points to determine his grade, all without a test, quiz, mid-term exam, or finals.

You'll have lots to work with for a grade, don't get caught thinking like a lot of brick and mortar school teachers do that examination is the only way to determine learning and assign a grade based on that alone.

sallymae
05-17-2011, 10:23 PM
My daughter just completed 10th grade. We do chapter tests. I keep a grade book. You will need a transcript for college. I update the transcript at the end of every year and keep grade book as back-up proof.

rumbledolly
05-18-2011, 11:01 AM
I do give tests though not necessarily grade them. We've been using a test prep book and I do keep a log that is included with the book on what the total number correct is for each given section. It gives me a clue what we should work on more, especially for next year. My DD will ask how she did and I base it on how I think she's mastered the work or if I feel she did a sloppy job just to get through it (as was the case last week - the errors were clearly based on not paying attention vs. not knowing the answers). If she doesn't do very well I give it back to her and ask her to review it and double check her answers. More often than not she'll have the correct answer or her incorrect answer is something that makes sense and I can see how she arrived at it. T4L also has a quiz at the end of each unit/section. She can move onto the next section if she scores well. If not we go over it and try it again.

Most of my so-called grading is really just based on if we should move ahead or go back. Also practicing sitting still and following the directions I believe is a good skill to develop! The beginning of the testing book actually gives tips and suggestions. They even include suggestions on each sections test page for the test-taker. I love how they stay "you might know more than you think".

EKS
05-18-2011, 02:34 PM
I have a 9th grader and this year he has had chapter tests in math and science as well as a final in math. In English, he mostly writes essays, which I grade, but for certain things I've been having him do open book "tests" (more like several short answer questions) with a closed book multiple choice section. In history, he writes a summary of each chapter of the textbook, which I grade, but no tests. In health, he answers the chapter questions and I grade them, so no tests there either. Latin is farmed out, and he has some tests in the course he is taking.

I keep a spreadsheet of his grades and within each subject I weight the grades according to the task. So for math it is 60% for chapter tests, 30% for the problem sets, and 10% for the final exam. In other classes, I sometimes assign point values to each assignment so that, for example, a short report might be worth 50 points, a longer essay 100 points, and a very long and involved research paper 500 points. I also give points for assigned reading.

At the end of each course, I write a course description, including all resources used and course expectations (including how I assigned the grades) and attach the grading spreadsheet. I will eventually use this information to create the documents needed for college application.

Lou
05-20-2011, 12:21 AM
We don't test because the kids are still too young. But my plan is to start testing more in middle school age frame as a way to 'get them used to it' but not grade or keep records...then in HS test and grade and keep records for college. It's sooooo far away for us, I will have to ask this question myself in the future. :)

One thing we have started is an informal assesment at the end of each year. So since this is our first year, we only have the one.

fbfamily111
05-21-2011, 04:24 AM
We test spelling, that's it. It helps to identify which words are still troublesome and they like the grades. My DD will sometimes ask me to grade her Worksheets,she loves the validation, but otherwise no tests, no grades. Grades are simply so a teacher with 30 plus kids can keep track, although I don't believe it works very well. For HS my plan is to treat it like college. I remember how much I loved my Psych 101 class, 4 tests 6 hours as a lab rat and show up once in awhile. English 101 was 5 papers, no tests, miss more then 3 classes and you lose a letter grade(grrrr). It taught me to adapt and be more responsible.