Q. When I filed my Notice of Intent, the school district offered to test my child in the spring with the Iowa test. They said not many homeschoolers use this free service. Is there a reason?

A. A few school districts, but not all, offer free testing for homeschooled students. They use the test they have available. There are several other testing options you may want to consider based on the following reasons:

  • Homeschooled students are required to take only the language arts and mathematics portions of a standardized achievement test. However, if your child tests with a local public school, all sections of the test, including history and science, will be given.
  • Your child will be in a new environment, and he may be intimidated by this new situation or the students he doesn’t know or an unfamiliar teacher—all of which could impact his concentration and test score.
  • The test results will go directly to the school, not to you. If your child should happen to score lower than expected, you will not have an opportunity to retest.

Homeschooling parents have several other testing options. First, parents may purchase ANY nationally normed, standardized achievement test–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, just to name a few. The law requires submission of the composite score or basic battery (language arts and mathematics), so only these sections of the test are administered.

Second, homeschooling parents may choose an independent evaluation or assessment, instead of an achievement test. If you choose this option, an evaluation letter must be completed by a person licensed to teach in any state, or by a person with a master’s degree or higher in an academic discipline who has knowledge of the child’s academic 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 for older students may also include a report card or transcript from a community college or college, distance-learning program, or home-education correspondence school.

If you’re wondering where to purchase tests, HEAV has compiled 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 our spring “Testing Update!”



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  1. Kasey James says:

    Even though I believe homeschool parents should be aware of all their options, I have had a wonderful experience with testing through the public school.

    My 2nd grader tested last year with Chesterfield Co. Pubic Schools. They ONLY tested the homeschoolers in language arts and math.
    Last year, the county used a location for all the homeschoolers to test, many of the test givers were educators that homeschooled their own children at some point. My daughter was completely comfortable and felt “special” that she got to do this for 3 mornings. She loved seeing how many other kids homeschooled in the county.
    It is true that I and the state both got the test scores back at the same time. My daughter did great, but even if she had not, then it would have showed me what we needed to work on for the next year.

    I like to share my experience because I feel that many of the counties in VA are reaching out to homeschoolers by offering testing and other services. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons why a parent may not want to use this free service but I hate to see parents not using services they pay for with their taxes because public school services are portrayed in a bad light. It is time to bridge the gap.