Q. Our son is working below grade level on some subjects, though he tested fine on the end-of-year, grade-level test. After I submitted his results, the school district indicated he should test at the next higher grade level. I don’t think he’s ready. Do I have to test at that higher grade level this year?
A. It’s not unusual for homeschool students to work on different levels—that’s the beauty of individualized instruction. However, it’s not typical to send in the same level test if the child successfully completed that level the previous year.
The only way to use the same level test is to retain your child in the same grade. This is not a decision to make lightly. Is he struggling generally or having difficulty with language arts (reading, writing, and spelling) or mathematics? These two subjects are the core, foundational subjects. If he is struggling generally or with these core subjects, you may consider several options.
The first thing you may want to think about is changing your curriculum. Because progress in language arts and mathematics is important, what you are using may not be working for him.
In order to test him on the same level, you would need to retain him (repeat the same grade). When thinking about his academic success, make sure you are considering only the composite score, not each individual score. The composite is made up of the scores for language arts and mathematics. It should be in the fourth stanine or higher (23 percentile or higher) or you could use an evaluation instead.
Since he must have scored well on last year’s test, you may want to give him the next level test early in the spring (April or May) to see how he scores. If he scores in the fourth stanine or higher on the test, he’s fine. No questions will be asked. If his composite score is not high enough, you will have time to re-test or use an evaluation.
The law does not require you to ask permission to retain your child in the same grade. Neither does it require you to notify the superintendent that you have retained him. It requires you to submit test scores or an evaluation by August 1 each year.