TestingBuild experience with testing, satisfy requirements, and track progress
While teaching writing is the focus at Write Worthy during most of the year, when spring arrives, we also assist local home schooling families by offering achievement testing.
We’re sorry, but we will not be offering testing this year.
Reasons to Test
An achievement test checks progress in the 3 R’s and shows a student’s ranking on a national level. Having your student tested accomplishes several goals.
- Give the student experience and practice with taking a test in a structured setting
- Satisfy the requirement in Oregon that home school students test at the end of grades 3, 5, 8, and 10
- Confirm and document that the student is making good academic progress
- Conclude the year by marking the student’s graduation to the next grade level and aiding plans for the year ahead
About the Test
We use the Terra Nova Second Edition / CAT 6, Survey Plus. This test is accepted by the State of Oregon to satisfy the home school testing requirement. It was published prior to the existence of the Common Core. Three subjects are covered in six test sections: reading (Reading, Vocabulary), language (Language, Language Mechanics), and math (Mathematics, Mathematics Computation). The test has about 150 questions, total.
All questions are multiple choice. In grade 3, students fill in circles to mark their answers directly in the test book. Students in grades 4-12 cannot write in the test books; they mark their answers on an answer sheet.
The test is given in a small group of up to eleven students in our teacher’s home classroom. On test days, the desks are set up with privacy barriers between students and all test materials are provided. While an achievement test is a formal time, the Christian home and friendly teacher help ease the experience. When administering a test, Mrs. Williams opens in prayer, gives test taking tips along the way, and assists students as needed.
When students arrive, they store their shoes and snack near the front door, then have a seat in the classroom. Meanwhile, parents check in with Mrs. Williams to register their students and pay for testing.
During the test, each section of the test is timed, with sections ranging from 10 to 40 minutes each. Before each section, verbal instructions are given by Mrs. Williams and students do some sample questions. If a student finishes a section early, they are encouraged to check their work in that section. There is a break mid-way, when students can eat a small healthy snack that they have brought. The total time needed for testing is about 3 hours and 45 minutes.
At the end of the test, students turn in all test materials and meet their parents to be picked up.
Test scores are mailed only to parents, about two weeks after the test (or after your family’s last test date). Included are two copies of the scores (one to keep and one for parents to send to ESD if needed) and a diagnostic profile.
The report of scores includes an explanation to help with understanding the scores, and parents are welcome to contact Mrs. Williams if they have any questions. The diagnostic profile is an additional report that shows the type of questions covered by the test and which questions the student missed. It groups the questions by learning objective and shows an assessment of the student’s level of mastery on each objective. This report is provided at no extra charge, as the additional detail on the student’s performance is especially helpful to home schooling parents.
When preparing students for testing, it’s important to keep in mind the nature of an achievement test. An achievement test is designed to measure what a student has achieved at a certain point in time. It has a mix of easy and hard questions over material that is typically covered in reading, language, and math. The goal is to see how many questions the student can answer correctly, based on what they’ve learned so far. It provides a good tool for determining how well your curriculum is working, and it provides a snapshot of the student’s current level of achievement.
On the other hand, an achievement test is not like most tests we see in school, where a student is expected to have mastered everything on it and potentially give all correct answers. So, ideally, preparing for an achievement test does not mean “studying” for it.
5 Tips for Test Preparation
1. Prepare for testing throughout the school year.
- Choose quality curriculum, and do your best to stay on track.
- Give your student as much experience with testing (of any kind) as possible. Use the tests provided with your curriculum to test them in various subjects, frequently throughout the year. Work on test taking strategies along the way.
- Help your student be familiar and comfortable with working within time limits. When there are five minutes left in a section of the test, they should understand what that means in terms of how quickly they need to read, or how many math problems can be done in that amount of time.
2. Schedule the test date strategically.
- Ideally, a student should take the test while still in the flow of the school year, with all they’ve learned still fresh on their mind. (Not, for example, after a week at camp or just prior to an eagerly anticipated vacation.)
- Schedule testing after the student has completed 80% or more of the year’s curriculum. The year-end test is designed to be administered after March 1.
3. Help your student know what to expect and give them test taking strategies. For this test, students should…
- Know that the test has a mix of hard and easy questions, and not be discouraged by the difficult items, nor over-confident with easy ones. They should simply do their best on each question.
- Read the questions and all answer choices carefully.
- Only choose one answer for each question. If it looks like more than one of the choices could work, choose the best one.
- If the answer choices are similar, be sure to see the differences before choosing.
- When finished with a section, if time allows, check the work. (Some students benefit from coaching on how to check their work, and practicing these strategies.)
- Do not skip questions (do not leave any blank).
- Use time wisely. Work steadily until the section is finished and checked.
4. Only prepare with a practice test if it’s really needed. Most students do not need to use practice test materials. Ideally, we want the results of the test to show the effectiveness of your curriculum, without interference. However, practice materials may be helpful for:
- Students who need experience with multiple choice questions or marking an answer sheet
- Students who are less nervous if they practice with the test format in advance
- Parents who need a reference, to see the type of questions and content the test will contain
- (If you choose to use a practice test, the Test Practice workbooks in the Spectrum series are recommended. Keep practice sessions light and upbeat, and stop the activities if practicing increases the student’s anxiety about the upcoming test.)
5. On test day, nurture a calm heart and clear mind.
- Pray with the student and remind them of God’s loving presence.
- Help the student get a good night’s rest.
- Stay positive about the test and testing experience.
- Provide a nutritious and peaceful breakfast.
- Send a small healthy snack for break time during the test.