May 14, 2014 Edition 

Annual Testing         

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Mercy Every Minute   

The Wuehler Family

To test or not to test annually 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 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. Here are five reasons for testing:


  1. Testing can be used as a gauge to guide us in curriculum and subject choices. It helps answer the questions: What is lacking? What have you done enough of? What should your focus be for next year?
  1. Having children tested can give the child a sense of confidence in their strong areas, and motivation to work on their weak areas. It also confirms what we already know as their teachers (where they need more help and where they excel.) 
  1. Testing can become a confirmation that no matter how poorly we think we have done as teachers, our children have most likely excelled or advanced despite us. It encourages us as we continue on the journey by taking something we are uncertain of, and making our children's progress firm in our minds and on paper.
  1. Tests are beneficial for any legal activities that may arise from homeschooling. Tests results can be valuable (or required) for our children's portfolios.
  1. Children learn how to take tests now so that they will be prepared for tests that come in their academic future.

Aside from assessing whether we are in right standing academically, we should also 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 for 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) Test everything, and hold on to what passes 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 wisdom. Let's not forget to assess both of these things in our children's lives as we keep them Home Where They Belong.





P.S. If you want to know how homeschoolers test across the board, go to www.nheri.org and get one of their free fact sheets here.



Tools. We use them every day. Think about it. Not a single day goes by without using a tool of some kind. Doctors, painters, mechanics, teachers, engineers, pilots, policemen, writers, chefs, farmers--each one has a specific set of tools without which they could not do their jobs.  Used properly these tools are an invaluable resource not only for the person wielding them but for what they provide to the person(s) who benefit from their use.  And so it is with technology--technology is a tool.  We use it to entertain, communicate and yes ... to educate.


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While we acknowledge the potential dangers of such a powerful tool as technology, and pray for God's wisdom and discernment as we guide our children in its proper and godly use, at the same time we thank God for such a blessing in our day--the opportunity to give our children an education that not only prepares them academically, but one that also glorifies the Lord.


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Dew Learning is the first Christian K-8 curriculum developed for the iPad and accessible on any web-enabled device. The curriculum combines first-rate academics, sound pedagogy, and state-of-the-art technology, grounded in biblical truth and centered on Jesus Christ. It is a robust curriculum in an easy-to-follow academic framework. Lessons include hundreds of videos and thousands of engaging activities.


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The Familyman     
Todd Wilson
Annual Testing thoughts in a nutshell.


1. If you legally don't have to test annually, then DON'T. You're the homeschooling mom, and you know how they're doing without a test. Don't do it.

2. If you do have to test annually, then DO, but don't show the results to your children and try not to look at them yourself. If the test scores are good, it might make you feel proud. If the test scores aren't good ... it doesn't mean much and they might make you feel like a failure.


Here's the test score truth: tests only measure how well a child does on a test. It doesn't measure how much they know. I did great on tests but didn't know much. I was just a good test taker. The inverse is also true. You can be a bad test taker and still know lots.    


Besides, even if a child isn't good at math ... or spelling ... or whatever, they're that way because GOD MADE THEM THAT WAY. Your job is to teach your children to their God-given bent and prepare them for life. You know a lot more about that than some office dwelling, test giver. Believe me, your child is a masterpiece!

On a much happier note, I've taken all the guesswork out of getting your husband a stellar Father's Day gift. This year I'm offering a cool Familyman T-shirt/cap deal. Let the world know that your hubby is a FAMILYMAN. Order the Father's Day combo today while our supplies last and check this one off your to do list.   


Be real,

PS. I'll be speaking at the Michigan Homeschool convention (INCH) this weekend. First person to come to my booth and welcome me to "Pure Michigan" gets a free audio CD. See you there.



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Josh McDowell

Can your teens defend their faith? Send them to a
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Raising Real Men    
Melanie ran the group testing program for our support group for many years. About this time every spring, the calls would start, "What do all these numbers mean? How is my child doing? How am I doing?" 

It's that last part that's the real kicker. Somehow these tests seem like a referendum on us! We need to remember:


You know how they're doing already. You are the one who teaches them and answers their questions. You know where they're struggling. Don't be thrown when the test agrees with you!


If your children are young, understand standardized tests aren't really reliable for younger students. The research really doesn't support testing early elementary students with multiple choice paper tests.


Remember it's just a snapshot. A test like this can only tell you how your child did on that particular test on that particular day. It can't measure their diligence or determination, their capacity or their character.


So what do all those numbers mean?


National percentile tell you the percent of kids in the norm group your child did better than. The norm group is just the group they tested before they released the test to know how to grade it, like a sample group. So, a 55th percentile isn't a failing grade, but merely an average one.


National stanine is just a shortcut way to show where you are on the bell curve. The average score of the norm group was assigned a five. Four, five and six are solid average scores landing in the center of the bell curve. One, two and three are below average and seven, eight, and nine are above.


Grade equivalent score is a little trickier. If your child scored 12th grade equivalent does that mean he can go straight to graduation without finishing the 4th grade? Sorry, nope. All it means is that he scored as well as a 12th grader would have on the 4th grade test - that doesn't mean he knows a thing in this world about algebra! Grade equivalents are only accurate within a year or so, other than that, it just means he did really badly or more likely, really well.


But, what do you do if your child really didn't do as well as you'd like?


Consider the situation. Were they sick? Or distracted? Or anxious? Do you think this was a good indicator of how they're really doing? If not, just ignore it. If so, time for some changes.


Change it up! The wonderful thing about homeschooling is we're not bound by what everyone else is doing this year. If your children are stumbling on math computation, then introduce timed fact sheets--or do more of them. If it's grammar, add in some more practice. We can grow and change and adapt to meet our children's needs. That's worth a whole lot!


Here's to a great year--next year!  


Your friends,

Hal & Melanie


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Do you have future college students or are you looking for online learning options? Check out two helpful directories in the May/June issue of TOS magazine: College/Higher Education and Online Learning for great resource ideas. For other helpful homeschool resources view the Schoolhouse Directories in the 2014 Print Annual Book.

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Contest Corner 

For the month of May, 2014  


Writing Fiction in High School by Sharon Watson


Whether teaching writing skills to a high school student or reviewing existing skills, the process of teaching writing skills can be daunting. Sharon Watson, a veteran homeschooling mom, co-op teacher, and literary workshop facilitator, has taken the dread out of polishing up those writing skills. Schoolhouse Review Crew members had the opportunity to use and review two of Sharon's premium curriculum items: 


The Power in Your Hands: Writing Non-Fiction in High School

Writing Fiction in High School


Through the Writing with Sharon Watson curriculum, students find a conversational-style instruction that turns writing from a subject of dread to a subject of delight.


Writing Fiction in High School is written in the same conversational-style as Watson's non-fiction curriculum. It is designed to help teens who love to write stories and want to influence the world as Christians learn to be more powerful and effective writers. Student's learn about and have the opportunity to practice with the various literary elements involved in storytelling and experience critiquing their own stories and stories of others. There is even a manuscript tract for students who have already written a short story or novel manuscript to be able to edit and improve on that existing work. The student workbook, containing over 300 pages of instructional text and activities, is available for $25.05; and the, teacher's guide is available for $19.95. Read the Crew reviews here!


You can WIN Writing Fiction in High School!


TO ENTER: Email Heather with your name, mailing address, and phone number for contact purposes, with the subject line, "
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