February 23, 2013

Standardized testing at age 4


I'm not a fan of standardized testing. However, my kids eventually get subjugated to them. When I first started to homeschool, it was through a public school district. I was new to the homeschool landscape and followed their curriculum, which included a standardized test each year. I thought it was good for them to get used to it.

Then I abandoned the school district entirely. And with that, all standardized tests. I understand both sides of the issue with standardized tests. But I feel they do more harm than good. They exclude certain students who do well learning, but not performing for a test.

Today, kids prepare for standardized tests -- either school teachers prepare them, wasting valuable school time, or parents sign their kids up for expensive courses. This is especially true for college entrance exams. My homeschooled kids had to study for the ACT exam to get into BYU. I bought a program so they could learn how to test with success. Parents do what they have to do for their kids.

But how early do these tests start? Before kindergarten, at age 4? In New York City public schools, administrators found that the number of 4-year olds passing the talented and gifted tests for kindergarten were doubling. And this was troubling. Parents are enrolling their 4-year olds in classes where they learn how to score high. Some schools have wanted to change the test. They are thinking -- maybe kids are not gifted -- just learning how to give the right answers.

As quickly as they change the tests, test centers begin marketing the new one to parents who want the best for their kids. I understand we all want the best.  I read with interest the New York Times article, but was thankful that I had circumvented these problems long ago when I decided to homeschool. My child gets the education that all those parents are competing for. Without the tests.

My last son just started college courses as part of his senior year of high school homeschool. I had to tell him about scantrons -- "don't forget to put down your name at the top, and fill in the bubble."

He later told me, I first started to circle the letters, and then I remembered -- "oh, fill them in." He got 100%. And we both got a good laugh.

Deila Taylor is the mom to five and blogs at Eve Out of the Garden.

1 comments - Add a comment below -:

Andrea said...

In Washington state your kids have to be evaluated at the end of the year (unless they are supervised by a certified teacher). Most parents choose to do a $40 standardized test because it's the most cost effective for them. I am not a fan of standardized tests and we have chosen to do individual assessments for $99 per child even though it costs us more money. No one checks if you actually do them (I know some families don't do them) and the results are only sent to the parents.

Sadly our state is considering changing the age of required homeschool testing (and other requirements) from eight to kindergarten.