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Got questions about homeschooling? Get Answers from HEAV's Yvonne Bunn, director of homeschool support and government affairs!

Achievement Test Level

Q. How do I know what achievement test level should I order for my child’s proof of progress?

A. When ordering an achievement test, HEAV recommends following the publisher’s recommendations for the appropriate grade level. Typically, you would choose the grade level that would  correspond with the child’s age and grade if attending  public school. For example, if your student would be in third grade in PS, then you would order the test for third grade.

There is some confusion created by the use of an older online version of the California Achievement Test (CAT). This version of the CAT was normed about 50 years ago. It is no longer published or scored by CTB/McGraw Hill. It has been purchased by a private company and made available at a reduced price for online testing by homeschool students. In the 1970s when this test was in wide use, it was the publisher’s policy to give the test to students at the end of the year who were “going into the next grade.” Therefore, students completing third grade would take the test designated as the fourth grade test because it showed preparation for the next grade. This is no longer the standard procedure for test administration. Choosing “the grade the student will be going into” applies only to this early online version of the CAT.

Although Virginia’s homeschool statute does not limit norming dates for standardized achievement tests,, the 50-year-old norming date for this particular CAT test may raise questions with some superintendents.. Parents should also be aware that test contents have changed in the last 50 years ago. Experienced test administrators consider the math portion for some levels of the older CAT to be more difficult than recently normed tests. The English portion for some levels may refer to things with which today’s student may be unfamiliar. For example, on the older version of the CAT test, the correct answer for what to use when searching for a book at the library would be to choose a card catalog cabinet. Today’s student may miss that question because he is unfamiliar with the contents of what appears to be a piece of furniture. He is only familiar with libraries that are equipped with computers for book searches.

When choosing the appropriate test level, if you have concerns that your student may not obtain the minimum acceptable composite score  of 23 percentile , HEAV suggests you choose an alternative method of showing adequate progress–an evaluation.

Something else to consider: if you feel your child has done poorly across all subject areas and needs to repeat the grade, you have the option to retain him. In this case, you would repeat the same level test. Be prepared to explain your decision if asked by the superintendent. This link provides more information on that option: https://heav.org/blog/2017/05/17/withholding-child/

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