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The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

To Test or Not to Test                          March 30, 2011


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Nancy is off this week, but you can check out her blog at






Deborah WuehlerMercy Every Minute
Deborah Wuehler, TOS Senior Editor

To test or not to test is really up to the state you live in and/or the administrator of your private school (in many cases that would be you or your husband). If your state's laws mandate yearly testing, then you have no choice. If your husband would like to see how your children are doing, then you should honor that as well.


Some families decide that having their children tested often gives them confidence that they are on the right track, as well as evidence that their children are succeeding academically for any legal purposes that may or may not come up.


Some use it as a gauge before high school to guide them in their curriculum and subject choices for the higher learning years. What is lacking? What have you done enough of? What should your focus be? Secondly, it has become a confirmation that no matter how poorly we think we have done, our children have for the most part excelled despite us. It encourages us as we continue on the journey. Third, our children learn to take the first of many tests that may come in their academic future. (Our first child went to take an assessment test at the local junior college when he was 15. He circled the answers instead of filling in the bubbles, so at the end of the test, the instructor had him re-mark all of his answers on a new sheet. That was a little embarrassing for all of us, and a heads-up to teach the kids how to take a test beforehand.)


Our family has decided that we don't need to formally test our children until they are in junior high or high school. And then, they will take the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, the California High School Proficiency exam, and/or the local junior college's assessment test.


Aside from academics, where we can gauge whether we are in right standing, we should also should test our hearts to see if we are in right standing before the Lord. The Bible has some good perspectives on testing that we would do well to adopt:


1) God tests our hearts in hope of our obedience.


"And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove (test) thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no." Deuteronomy 8:2


2) We hold on tight to those good things that pass the test.


"Prove (test) all things; hold fast that which is good." 1 Thessalonians 5:21


Man's tests measure knowledge; God's tests measure character. Let's test both.



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Gena Suarez

Hey from Gena

Gena Suarez, Publisher of TOS   


Should you regularly test your homeschoolers? That's up to you. I did it when my oldest kids were young and I was always discouraged with the results. Turned out I wasn't really teaching to the tests (whatever those were). So I stopped testing (hey, there's a solution, LOL) and we managed to get Paulie and Luke through (graduated). Then they both enrolled in college. Paulie (now 21) is a 4.0 GPA (never anything less than an earned A) and same with Lukey (19) except he did get one B in a history class in college. Both boys have had loads of A's on tests - in college. But when they were in 3rd grade trying to test, epic fail. Wonder why? Who cares.

I have a friend whose husband built a house. Took them about a year and during that time she felt guilty because their oldest kid (homeschooled, maybe 2nd grade or so?) didn't do much that whole year in the way of academics. Funny thing was, fast forward a year later, the kid was testing right at grade level even though he hadn't done too much "textbook schooling" the previous year. Now he's in his teens and completely brilliant. Plus he has (at least) a little house-building experience, not to mention, good character because of all that time he spent with his dad. Epic success.  

Test - or don't test. That's up to you. But if the results aren't so good, don't fret. Just keep surrounding your kids with enriching experiences, good books and loads of conversations between you and them. Do the academics, pursue excellence. And then test later (maybe in college, heh heh) like I did.

Bottom line - yer the mama. You know if he/she is advancing, and to what degree. It's all good; keep walking.




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Everywhere we look, our toxic culture is eating away at the fabric of the family and the Christian faith, but what to do about it? Athanatos Christian Ministry's upcoming /online/ apologetics conference contends that defending the family defends the faith and defending the faith defends the family. April 7-9



Todd Wilson The Familyman
Todd Wilson, Familyman Ministries


So the question at hand is whether to test or not to test. DON'T DO IT!*


Tests don't measure actual learning and will either leave you and your child feeling like failures or give you a false sense of achievement. You homeschool, and your child is progressing just as he should.


If your son is 10 and just now starting to read . . . great! If your daughter can't solve an algebra problem to save her life . . . that's fine. Some kids can, and some kids can't. Standardized tests do nothing but identify those who do well taking standardized tests and those who don't.


Besides, "they" came up with the standard, just a group of people who needed a standard because they were teaching millions of children. It is arbitrary and based on what "they" think children need to know (or what paid teachers need to teach in order to get paid).


Their standard shouldn't be your standard. It certainly isn't God's standard.


Mom and Dad, God made you smart enough to get your child ready for adulthood. Don't use anyone else's educational standards, because every child's educational standard is different.


Be diligent, keep plugging, and teach your children while you enjoy them, and everything will turn out hunky dory.


I'm not kidding on this one . . . don't test.


Be real,



P.S. Don't write me mean letters telling me I don't have a clue. Instead, write Nancy Carter and rebuke her for letting a shmoe like me on staff.


P.P.S. I'll be in Cincinnati at the Great Mid-West Homeschool Convention. First mom to my booth who likes my stance on testing (or doesn't) gets a free book of her choice.


*(unless the law requires it . . . and then move to a different state.)




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It's Just Common Sense

Ruth Beechick, Curriculum Specialist 


Debbie Strayer, Homeschool Consultant 


Testing is one piece of information about your child's performance. Other information, such as his work, his effort, and his character, count just as much as academic achievement. As an evaluator of homeschoolers for 20 years, I can say if you can keep this in mind, then the information you gain from testing can be more useful. If you see test results as a yardstick measuring your success, then I would say be careful. The labels you place on yourself or your children from test results, either high or low, may try to dissuade you from following God's plan in their lives.


If a student struggles, a parent may think that someone with more experience or knowledge should teach him. A tutoring-style homeschool is most effective for a struggling student. God is faithful, and He will send the resources and support you need. If a student excels, parents often think they need to go to great lengths to challenge their child more, the way a school would attempt to do. The best environment for accelerated learning is not a classroom but the pursuit of individual interest with relaxed, supportive parent guides.


But then there's the philosophical problem of whether we should be comparing our children with other children. If your child is struggling with reading, do you really need a comparative score, or it enough to know that you and he are doing the best you can at the present time? Or if the child is an excellent reader and loves to read, does someone need a high score as a feather in his cap? You may need it to fend off your critics of homeschooling. About all you can do with test results is to notice in which areas your child is lower than you would like, so you can plan to emphasize those areas in the coming year.

          Ruth Beechick, The Homeschool Answer Book


~ Debbie 

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Contest Central  

For the month of March, 2011   

Opposites Are Fun!


A high-quality hardcover book and CD, Opposites Are Fun! introduces children to the world of opposites. In its 40 pages, the book covers 58 opposites. The CD has two songs that cover most of the opposites contained in the book. The opposites range from simple pairs, like "up" and "down," to more challenging concepts, like "plain" and "fancy." The book is colorfully illustrated with bright pictures that will hold a child's attention and help him understand each opposite presented.

The sing-along CD is also a great tool. Its sweet and simple songs cover the opposites in the same order as they appear in the book. The songs are catchy and make remembering the opposites much easier. I have heard a few "learning" CDs in my time, and some of them are terribly annoying! This one isn't; it is very easy on the ears and almost relaxing.

This set is designed for 3- to 8-year-olds, which I believe to be an accurate recommendation. My 5-year-old just loved it. After reading the book and listening to the CD three or four times, he knew all but a few of the 58 opposites. And learning them didn't hurt a bit! My 8-year-old also enjoyed the book and CD, even though she already knew most of opposites. (. . .)


Read the rest of the review here. Win this book for your family!



Email Deb with your name and mailing address and the subject "Opposites are Fun" for a chance to win* this book! 


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*Disclaimer and Legal Notice:
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC ("Company") is sponsoring the March Contest Central contest running from March 2, 2011, to March 31, 2011. You must be 18 years of age or older and follow all rules to participate. Entering the contest constitutes full and complete acceptance of, and a warranty that the entrant has read, understands and agrees to, all contest terms and conditions, including without limitation all of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC Contest Rules ("Official Rules") and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Writer Guidelines
 and Terms and Conditions for Submitting Queries. All Official Rules apply. Entry also constitutes full consent and unlimited permission for Company to print, publish, broadcast and use all intellectual property and personal information submitted as part of the Contest entry on the Internet and in any and all Company publications in accordance with the Rules. Entries become the sole property of Company and will not be returned. Employees and independent contractors of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, Contest sponsors, individuals or entities furnishing Contest prizes and their family members may not participate in this contest. Company reserves the sole, discretionary right to determine contest winners and to cancel, terminate, modify, or suspend the contest or the Rules at any time with or without notice or cause, subject to applicable law. See Official Rules for details.
No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law.

For a full copy of the Official Rules, please send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine: Official Rules Request, PO Box 8426, Gray, TN 37615