For those of us who are newer to the homeschool community, among a hundred other questions, we may find ourselves asking about the “A” word…assessments. Many homeschool families feel that there is absolutely no need to even speak that word in its strictest form though parents are aware of the need for some form of assessment for the homeschooling family. Some of those assessments range from authentic to standardized, with authentic being student created through the use of work samples and/or something students themselves creates to demonstrate understanding and mastery of a subject (ex: diorama, performance, project, etc.).
When Do I Assess?
Assessing is an on-going practice that can be both formal and informal. Informal assessments are present most days whether intentional or unintentional as children share what they are learning through conversation, writing, presenting information, play and other creative authentic means. Formal assessments are standardized, pencil to paper, computerized etc. and are scored. Data is used from the formal assessments to provide information demonstrating a child’s mastery of concepts, challenges or strengths. Parents can choose to assess whenever they desire, through the use of their local school district or through an assessor.
How Do I Know Which Assessment Type Is Best?
This depends upon your family preference. Quite frankly, that is the answer for mostly anything homeschool related. Know thyself! Whatever helps your child to be and feel the most successful is important in deterring the best options across the board for what you select.
The narrative is a written progress report of sorts that provides the parent, child and assessor an overview summarizing all that the child has learned within a given homeschool year. It can be as in-depth as as the assessor and/or parent agree. Content areas are listed with concepts that were learned within the year. The narrative may contain goals for the upcoming year, challenges and strengths for the child, as well as additional items the child needs to work on. There is no score provided for these narratives. Demonstrated mastery may be shared with the assessor based upon items that have been completed by the parents, for example a graded workbook, math worksheets, etc. may act as a demonstrated sample of student content area mastery.
There are so many options to choose from. Theses tests can be administered through their local school district, a testing center, or can be administered through a licensed assessor. Read the test administration criteria if you choose to order standardized tests through a website such as the ones included in this blog link. Additionally, an alternative assessment is available through your school district. You would not need to pay for anything your school district supplies, only those assessments you secure on your own outside of the school district.
Ultimately, an assessment provided for you and your child should not cause stress for your family, but should provide a clear snapshot of what your school year achieved. Remember, ask questions of your assessor or your school district and be proud of all that you and your child accomplished. Embrace the journey and celebrate the process!