Friday, January 17, 2014

Measuring Up

Does mom measure up?
In order to be in compliance with the homeschooling regulations for the state of Pennsylvania, our children need to take standardized tests when they are in 3rd, 5th, and 8th grades. Some people might find this to be too much regulation but I like the idea of knowing how the boys are doing. Our evaluator does the testing for a small fee. I like the fact that she uses the Woodcock Johnson Achievement test because it is an out-of-level test and gives me a better picture of where they are in their education.

Even though I like the idea of having them tested, I usually do some worrying before we go. My mind starts throwing out possible issues...

"What if they haven't made any significant progress?"

"What if our evaluator tells me that I'm failing as their teacher?"

"What if they embarrass me by misbehaving instead of taking the test seriously?"

These questions get added to the multitude of mommy worries that have plagued me from day one of homeschooling.

"Am I crazy to pull these kids out of school?"

"Will they grow up to be weird unsocialized homeschoolers?"

"What if they can't get into a good college because we homeschooled?"

"Will they have any friends?"

As the years have gone by, and my confidence has grown, I can usually toss aside my concerns quickly. I look at the successful homeschoolers I have met on our journey and realize we are on a good path. The boys are happy, healthy, and have friends, even though they are homeschoolers. But for some reason, the testing puts more fear in my heart than any other worry. Test results are just so final. They take the test and then you have those results, in black and white, judging you.

Once we had a date for the testing, I starting thinking about the boys' areas of weakness. JT has been struggling with his math work this year. EM is especially challenged by grammar and composition. I spent a day or two helping them brush up on their writing technique so they would be ready for that portion of the testing. Other than that, there was little I could do. Cramming wasn't going to work for this kind of a test.

When it was all over and our evaluator sat down with me to go over their results, it turned out I had no cause for worry. Both boys did extremely well in all areas of testing. JT and EM both made progress since the last time they took their tests. EM made the most dramatic improvement in the passage comprehension portion of the test. He has become a voracious reader in the last two years and it definitely showed in his results.

I know it's easy to worry when you step outside the traditional way of doing things. You can't always see where you stand because there aren't as many standards to see. This week I learned that we're doing just fine.

We passed the test.

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