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Is your child an

(Excommunicated from
public school)

Have you been told by public school employees that you have to homeschool your child?

Has your public school created an IEP for your special needs child that they are no longer following, and now they're suggesting that you should "take if from here?"

Have you been told that your child can not legally drop out but must homeschool until graduation instead?

Want to bet you aren't the only one in Indiana this is happening to?

Want some help and advice on homeschooling?

The Indiana Home Educators' Network has been Helping Hoosiers Homeschool since the turn of the century. Click on the help link on our home page; see if homeschooling can turn this curse from your public school into a blessing for your family.


standardized (state) testing

Dear FREd: We will be starting to homeschool soon. I would like to do some sort of yearly achievement testing (although, frankly, we're homeschooling because my oldest didn't do well enough on his achievement testing at school and it does not show his true ability. But still, maybe it would be nice to know he wasn't scoring lower than before or help me identify strengths/weaknesses. Do any of you do this?

What test do you use and how do you get it? I asked our public school if we could sit with their students for testing and the answer was no. I checked with a private school and they were willing to let us have any extra copies of their tests, but I would have to figure out a way to score it. A Learning Center offers testing to determine grade level in some subjects, but it's $250 per student. That just sounds very expensive! Any ideas on alternatives?


LEADER: There's a handful of places on the Internet, where you can get standardized tests. They are listed on the IndianaHomeschoolers YahooGroup, in the links folder [1].

Many tests are self administered and cost around $40 or $50. There's also a link to the Texas NCLB test which is free.

The tests you pay for will rank your child against the national norm and tell you how well your child does compared to an average kid at that point in school (even down to the month). The Texas test will tell you whether they would pass the NCLB test.

Personally, I think it's better to pay for the more complete results, but it can add up for large families. Ultimately, private schools, including parents who educate at home, are not required (not allowed actually) to take the Indiana NCLB state test -- ISTEP+ [2]. How you want to evaluate your children is up to you and for your own information. The state does not track test results and student information for non-accredited, non-public schools.

WEST: Testing is okay, but not really necessary. You will know whether your children are getting the concepts taught in schools or whether they need more work on them.

By being with them all day, you will know exactly what they have and haven't learned. If you really want testing, Bob Jones offers the Iowa Basic for about $50. As long as you have a 4 year college degree you can sign up with them to officially administer the test. There might also be a local homeschooling parent or support group who administers the test. You could check IHEN's Support Directory for that information [3].

However, based on what you said about your oldest, I wouldn't push testing. Many really bright children do not test well. The main thing the tests measure is how well a child tests, not how much they've actually learned.

PECK: You can download the Spring 2006 Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) tests in PDF format [4] if you are looking to just identify and evaluate weak areas in your child's education. Our family uses the tests to show nosey and skeptical relatives that our children really are learning something. As involved parents, we already know our children's strengths and weaknesses. Nevertheless, some people would rather see a score on a government test than take the word of the children's own parents.

BENNETT: What is a test? It's an evaluation. As a homeschooler, you're evaluating your own child and using a test as a tool to determine whether he or she knows the information he or she is being tested on. Well and good for the bean counters but we aren't tested in this way in real life. In real life, we're tested by our words and our actions. The best way to test people (student or adult) is to talk to and interact with them. You can usually tell in five minutes whether the teen you are talking with could pass a standardized test or not. "Man on the street" interviews where people ask simple questions and receive moronic answers are common entertainment on talk radio programs. Maybe to save embarrassment, we should ask participants what their ISTEP scores are, before interviewing them. But with a 60% failure rate... I'm afraid the "Man on the street" interviews would have to be canceled.

So how do you find out what your child knows? Talk with them. "Read a good book lately? Tell me about it."

Want to see if your child can write? "Maybe you should write your grandma a thank you letter for your birthday present."

Worried about math? "Hey... why don't you sit here and help me work out a family budget for this month."

Kids always know more than they could ever ever be tested for. The bits and pieces of knowledge that show up on tests, are only useful for taking tests. That's why we memorize, spit out, then forget most of everything we learned in high school.

Like in history, we are taught in school the WHEN of an event... but never have time to really look into the WHY. Why did the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor? Why was Hitler allowed to get as far as he did before he met resistance? Etc.

There is a long list of ways to assess the knowledge and education of a person. Filling in little cards with a No. 2 pencil is at the bottom of that list.

PECK: Actually, I've found that our annual exercise of achievement testing to be a total waste of time, as far as evaluating the children is concerned. The only benefit is that worried relatives have their fears that the kids aren't learning anything relieved and so there is more peace in the extended family than otherwise there would be. So far, administering the Texas test and telling them that, yes, the children take a standardized test every year and they passed it, has done wonders to ease their concerns. It's funny that even after they see and interact with our children and can see that homeschooling hasn't turned them into moronic monsters, they are still "concerned" until we show them the Texas assessment test scores. Sadly, too many people believe, "Approved by the Government" somehow makes everything okay.


Ask Fred

Ask FREd archives

Standardized (State)Testing [080125]

What are Ex-Schoolers?

Forced to Homeschool: Curse of Blessing?



Meg Leader
Rebecca West
Dan Peck
Ben Bennett

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Contact our FREducation column contributors via the Alt. Ed. Network:

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[1] IndianaHomeschoolers YahooGroup Standardized Testing Links Folder

[2] Indiana Dept. of Education ISTEP Scoring Guides (scroll to bottom)

[3] Indiana Home Educators' Network's Statewide Support and Resource Directory (or search the IHEN site at )

[4] Spring 2006 Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test

blogs of interest

Becki's HomeschoolHeartLine

Get In and Hang On!

The Hoosier Homeschooler


Okay Kids, Time for Bedlam!

Ask FREd is an advice column for autodidacts -- people who want to teach themselves. Helping people become self educated citizens by advocating and advising "free range" learning ideas is the principle goal of the contributing writers at

Ask FREd is a cooperative writing project of selected subscribers to the IndianaHomeschoolers e-list and volunteers with the Indiana Home Educators' Network; edited and published by The opinions and advice expressed are those of the individual contributors and may not be the opinions or positions of IHEN, IndianaHomeschoolers subscribers or the Alternative Educators' Network.

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