Choosing Standardized Tests
An Overview of Testing Options
Standardized test publishers regulate the use of their tests closely in order to protect the reliability of their norms. Thus, they usually do not sell tests directly to the public, including homeschool parents. Standardized tests are available to homeschools in a variety of ways. However, they must guarantee the test publishers that certain conditions are met.
Which Test Should I Use?See below for a description of several different tests. The Virginia homeschool law allows homeschoolers to use any nationally standardized achievement test, not just the ones used by the local school district. Your choice will most likely depend upon what is most available to you. The scores are more helpful if you consistently use the same test from year to year. The different tests vary somewhat in the sub-scores they give you. One test may give language sub-scores in mechanics, spelling, and expression. Another may give scores in capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and usage. If you prefer one set of categories over another, you can choose which test you want to use on this basis. The actual content (the subject matter and skills) covered by the tests in the elementary grades is quite standardized. The selection procedures, involving input and consensus from curriculum specialists and teachers, tend toward uniformity. Content is checked against widely used textbooks. Textbooks have the same standardizing pressures and don’t change much either, therefore, the major tests are not much different from one another in content.
This is a nationally normed test available for grades 3-12. There are not any requirements as to who can give it, so parents may administer it to their children. The BASI covers math, reading, and language (it does not cover science, social studies, or study skills). It is a timed test, and takes about two hours to administer.
While anyone can use this test, it is especially valuable for students with special needs. The test is a long, in-depth test, but very thorough and helpful in goal setting. Public and private schools routinely use these tests to develop an IEP; parents can use them to develop objectives for the next year and to develop their own student evaluation plan. Parents are allowed to administer the test. The Yellow Brigance covers birth to developmental age 7; the Green Brigance covers grade levels Pre-K through 9.
This test is popular among Christian schools and homeschools because it contains more traditional values and because there are no qualifications necessary to administer it. Parents can administer the test and return it to the company for scoring. The CAT is a timed test.
Some test suppliers no longer carry the CAT/5 version of the California Achievement test because it is considered an older test–first published in the 1970s. The CAT/5 has outdated vocabulary and pictures to which many young students cannot relate. The demand for the CAT/5 is now so low that the publisher no longer prints and scores that particular version of the CAT.
Some test suppliers have purchased the license for the CAT/5 and provide their own scoring. The test is normed every two years. They have also converted it to a timed and untimed online version. Computer-generated score reports are provided soon after the test is completed online. Be sure to follow the ordering instructions for this older CAT/5 test since they differ from newer tests.For this test only, you should order the test level for the grade your child will be going into next year, not the grade he is completing.
Many suppliers have changed to the CAT/6, normed in 2005 and now known as the TerraNova 2nd Edition. It is the same test as the CAT/6. You can expect to see fewer references to the CAT (California Achievement Test) since the TerraNova name is replacing the CAT name. There is also a TerraNova 3rd Edition, normed in 2011.
The CAT/5, CAT/6, and TerraNova tests are used by homeschoolers and accepted by superintendents. The law does not refer to specific norming dates.
Classic Learning Test
Classic Learning Test offers online exams for students in grades 3 through 12. The exams assess reading, grammar, writing, and mathematics skills and focus on critical thinking and logic skills throughout all sections. CLT is not aligned with Common Core but instead looks at foundational educational skills while presenting students with reading content drawn from classic literature and historical texts. It is suitable for students of all educational backgrounds.
Exams for grades 3 to 10 are proctored at home by a parent or other responsible adult. CLT, the official college entrance exam for grades 11 and 12, is also taken online, at home, but proctored remotely by CLT staff. The exams must be administered on published dates throughout the year, but testing times are flexible. Each exam lasts approximately two hours, and scores are available within 1-2 weeks along with comprehensive analytics reports. Pricing ranges from $39-$59, depending on the exam.
HEAV members receive a 25% discount.