Q. I received a letter from my school district offering testing in April for my homeschooler. Is this a good option? What are my other choices?
A. Homeschooling parents are required to submit the results of a standardized achievement test or independent evaluation by August 1 each year if they have complied with §22.1-254.1 of the Virginia Code by filing a Notice of Intent or sending a letter to the school division.
A few school districts may offer free testing for homeschool students, but this is not your only option. If you test with a local public school, all sections of the test (language arts, mathematics, history, science) will be given, and the test results will go directly to the school, not to you. If your child should happen to score lower than expected because he is in a strange environment, or he is intimidated by a new situation or teacher, you will not have an opportunity to retest.
Parents have several other testing options. First, parents may choose ANY nationally normed standardized achievement test from a variety of tests such as the Stanford Achievement Test, the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS), the California Achievement Tests (CAT), the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS-TAP), Science Research Associates (SRA), or the Woodcock-Johnson Educational Battery, to name a few. Costs range from $25 to $50.
If you use a standardized achievement test, only the composite score for language arts and mathematics (the basic battery) must be submitted. The composite score includes all sub-tests for language arts and mathematics. Science and history test sections are not required. The student’s composite score must be in the fourth stanine or higher (23rd percentile) in order to continue homeschooling.
For students who may not do well on an achievement test, parents may submit an independent evaluation or present a portfolio to the division superintendent instead. If an independent evaluation or assessment is chosen, the evaluation letter must be completed by a person licensed to teach in any state, or a person with a master’s degree or higher in an academic discipline who has knowledge of the child’s academic progress. It must state that the child is achieving an adequate level of educational growth and progress. With an evaluation, the division superintendent or his designee will determine if the child is achieving an adequate level of educational growth and progress.
An evaluation or assessment may also include a report card or transcript from a community college or university, distance-learning program, or home-education correspondence school.
If you’re wondering where to purchase tests, HEAV has put together a list of companies offering tests for homeschoolers. We’ve also compiled a page listing counselors, testers, and tutors who have expressed an interest in working with homeschoolers.
Watch for more information in the spring in our Testing Update!