Q. How do I know if a particular test complies with end-of-year testing requirements?
A. I know testing can be intimidating and confusing, but the statute gives a good explanation of what is required. §22.1-254.1(C) requires all parents who have filed a Notice of Intent to provide evidence of academic achievement by August 1 following each year of home instruction—regardless of the time of year you began homeschooling.
There are several ways to meet this requirement: provide the results of a nationally normed standardized achievement test; or an equivalent score on the ACT, SAT, or PSAT (for high school students); or provide an evaluation.
A nationally normed standardized achievement test should meet the following criteria:
- The test must be nationally normed. It must have been given to a large number of students of the same age/grade across the country providing the norming data on which the scores are based.
- It must be standardized. This means the test is the same for all students regardless of where the test is administered or who administers it. Students are presented with the same administration procedures, allotted time, format, questions, order, and scoring procedures.
- It must be an achievement test. It must measure a student’s academic performance in skill subjects such as math and language arts.
- It should include evidence of a composite score. A composite score is derived from a formula (not an average) that usually measures the basic skills–the math and language arts portions of the test. A stanine ranks the student’s achievement on a scale from 1-9 based on the norming data for that test.
Virginia students who take a nationally normed standardized achievement test must have a composite score in or above the fourth stanine in order to continue to homeschool. The fourth stanine begins at 23 percentile.
There are many good tests that measure different aspects of learning. However, not all tests meet Virginia’s statutory requirements for evidence of progress.
For example, you may be familiar with the MAP test used in some public schools. The MAP test is an online, adaptive testing program that can be given two to three times each year to a student. It measures a child’s academic progress and is used to adjust a student’s goals and curriculum. The test questions are changed according to each child’s individual answers. If a child gets a question correct, the next question is more difficult. If he gets it wrong, the next question is easier. Thus, instead of using standard questions for everyone, it uses a standard process for determining what kinds of questions the child will answer next. Because of this, the MAP test is not considered a standardized test.
Further, although the MAP test is nationally normed, it is not nationally normed as a standardized achievement test and cannot provide a composite score. The composite score is made up of the student’s math and language arts scores or a stanine ranking to report to the superintendent. Therefore, although the MAP test is a good test that can be used for evaluation purposes or curriculum adjustment, it does not provide the information required by the homeschool law.
If a parent would still like to use a test that does not fully comply with the homeschool law, they should contact their superintendent directly, prior to testing. Do not rely on hearsay but make sure an alternative test is acceptable. Documenting the superintendent’s response may be helpful.
To see a list of tests that are often used for evidence of progress, please see Choosing Standardized Tests.
Use this resource to find where to order tests.