Out of level testing

Iowa Test of Basic SkillsI know that standardized testing can be a controversial topic…especially when testing younger children.  Many say that the results can be unreliable due to short attention spans and others say that there is little valuable information to be gained from testing.  But, I think that for many (especially first time?) homeschoolers it can be reassuring to give your child a standardized test and find out when the results arrive that you are not harming your child. 😉

If you have a Bachelor’s degree, then you can sign up with BJU press to become a test administrator.  The sign up process is very easy…as long as you have access to your college diploma.  After your paperwork is finished, you are free to order any IOWA test that you please. 

Why did I want to test?  I am always paranoid that something will happen to both my dh and I (we are skydiving instructors after all) and my dd’s guardian will have no idea where she is academically.  I do a rather poor job of keeping up a portfolio and I wanted something that could give a quick snapshot of her skills.  Plus, being able to administer the test myself turns testing into a very low stress activity.

So, this past October I signed up to be a test administrator with the goal of giving my dd the IOWA basic skills test.  I spent a bit of time trying to decide what level test I should give her and eventually went with level 6 (late  K/early 1st).  I wanted to give her a test that challenged her, but yet wouldn’t be too difficult as she tends to give up if she feels that she cannot do something well.  Levels 5 and 6 are untimed and mostly read aloud by the administrator while levels 7+ are longer and include subsets for social studies and science (here is a good overview of the test and the breakdown of each level). 

The IOWA test is rather long for young children.  Level 6 is broken up into several subcategories that each take about 20-30 minutes for a total of 2 hours.  For the younger grades the accompanying paperwork suggests that you only do one subtest per day.  I heartily concur with this suggestion.  There were several times that my dd wanted to continue on to the next session, and when we did so her stamina would start to wane in the middle of the second subtest.

What were the scores like?  Well, the reults were easy enough to interpret with the informational brochure that was sent along with them.  I was actually surprised that her vocabulary score was a bit lower than the rest, but that may have been one of the subtests that was completed when she was tired.  Note to self: keep a record of any unusual stresses or fatigue during the next testing session.  And drumroll….I am not harming my dd by keeping her home….and I have the test results to prove it. 🙂

Just a few weeks ago, my dd asked when she could take a test again.  So, it looks like testing will be held annually in October.  Some time in September I will decide if we should ask for the level 7 or 8 test.

Have you given an out of level test to your child?  If so, how did you go about deciding what level to give and have you found the information to be helpful?


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