Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Testing, Testing

The kids in the schools around town are in the middle of the ISTEP tests. These are statewide standardized tests, administered in the fall. They are expensive, of questionable worth, and a source of ongoing controversy. Yet, as is the case each fall there have been calls for homeschoolers to have to take part in the testing.

In honor of this fall ritual, I am resurrecting an item from my old blog:

There have been several public calls recently to increase the regulation of homeschoolers in the state of Indiana. The idea mentioned most often is some sort of standardized testing.

Often, to those who don't homeschool, this is a common-sense suggestion. They figure that tests will surely show us who is doing a good job and who is not. An often heard statement is, "You would welcome testing unless you have something to hide."

This shows a fundamental lack of comprehension about how and why many parents homeschool. Some homeschool because they disagree with what is taught in government schools. Some do it because they would rather have the flexibility to pursue learning in a manner--and an order--that works best for their child. Some do not believe that government schools are rigorous enough, and pursue more demanding courses of study. And some delay much formal academic work until age 10 or so as advocated by homeschool pioneers Raymond and Dorothy Moore.

Many different homeschool styles are not compatible with standardized testing. Those who pursue a classical education model often are not on the same timetable as the schools. Many homeschool families choose to do more in depth study of a couple of subjects for a year, rather than a broad overview. In our own family part of the reason we started homeschooling was our recognition--without a standardized test--that our son needed something different than the standard classroom experience. Trying to teach to a test would have derailed us completely.

Then, too, there are the practical questions. Where would the money come from? What would happen if the kids don't pass? It seems kind of laughable that a government which cannot ensure the success of the kids that it is responsible for would try to usurp the responsibility of parents, who have a far greater interest in the success of their own children.

And we won't even go into the dubious reliability of standardized testing.

1 comment:

Jana said...

Here in PA we are required to test our kids in third and fifth grade (and maybe after that - I haven't gotten there yet). The really ridiculous thing is that no one cares what the scores are. They just check off a little box to make sure you have the test results in your portfolio at the end of the year. And I have to pay for the test, too. Talk about a waste of time and money!