Q. How do I place my child at the correct grade level for the upcoming year? Can I use an achievement test?
A. Correct placement in the core skill subjects — language arts and mathematics – can be very helpful for a parent, but they are not always necessary. It will show strengths and weaknesses and identify learning gaps. I would not be as concerned about placement in history or science. Some curriculum providers that offer a complete program may provide placement tests. Another option would be Essential Learning Objectives (ELO). ELO offers a quick, inexpensive, online assessment for math and language arts for grades 1-8.
A standardized achievement test, which many homeschool parents choose to provide evidence of progress, will compare your student with other students who are the same age, but the data are not very helpful for grade placement. Being strong in one subject doesn’t mean a child should be placed in a higher grade, and being weak in one subject doesn’t mean he should be in a lower grade. However, it will help you know how to adjust your curriculum and zero in on the areas that need strengthening. It would be better to use an achievement test at the end of the year for assessment, rather than placement at the beginning of the year. Remember, if you find that the level you are teaching is too difficult or too easy, you can change your curriculum at any time.