How Kain's school prepares for standardized testing-
-making curriculum choices that will maximize test performance
-doing practice tests at school
-sending home packets of practice worksheets every week so that he can practice at home
- giving us a website where we can print off even *more* practice tests
-dangling carrots in front of the teachers- there's been talk in the papers of giving teachers financial rewards for good scores from their classrooms.
How we prepare for standardized testing-
-"Hey Maria, you remember how to fill in those little bubbles on that test you took last year, right?" "Uh-huh."
Homeschoolers in Arkansas are required to take the ITBS in 3rd-10th grades. Last year, since it was her first time taking such a test, we did a couple of "dry runs" so that she would be comfortable. By mid-first grade, she'd had enough experience with "real school" tests to be pretty darn nervous about it. I really did plan to do more that first year, but didn't get to it. I was a little concerned because she was struggled with reading and spelling. She still scored better than the state average. I think this will only improve as she goes on too. Our curriculum is pretty gentle in the early years and slower to progress in certain subjects than the public school's. But it's a well thought out curriculum and starts to pick up the pace right around 3rd-4th grade, and by the junior high years it is pretty darn tough....as good a college prep program as I've ever seen. I like the balance. I *want* the early years to be fun and enjoyable with lots of time for learning through play, and I *want* the curriculum to also be solid enough that my kids go on and do whatever they want in life. I know I could raise her test scores in this "in between" time by teaching to the test the way the public schools do, but I refuse to do that. I refuse to waste one iota of my precious school time by worrying about these silly tests. It's just one of my many prerogatives as a homeschooler. I tell Maria that the test is made for public schoolers and the books that they use, that different books teach things in different grades, and to just do the best she can and not worry about it. I make sure she knows how to actually take the test so that she doesn't miss problems for not coloring the circles properly or something like that. I give her a good night's sleep and a good breakfast. And then I let it go.