3 Pros and 3 Cons About Achievement Tests for Homeschoolers

Here are 3 pros and 3 cons about achievement tests for homeschoolers. There is sometimes confusion and controversy over testing. Here are 2 ways to look at it.

3 Pros and 3 Cons About Achievement Tests for Homeschoolers

3 Pros and 3 Cons About Achievement Tests for Homeschoolers

Some states require periodic testing for homeschoolers. Some homeschool umbrella schools require the testing even if the state does not. These tests are usually standardized achievement tests such as the Stanford Achievement Test, Terra Nova, or the Iowa Test of Basic Skills.

Should you test your homeschool student? Just like the pros and cons (or yucks and yahoos) of homeschooling there are some pros and cons on the idea of achievement tests:


1) Achievement tests provide a standardized measure of results for each student’s homeschool program.

Standardized achievement tests provide results in percentiles. The percentiles compare your homeschooler’s scores to thousands of his peers’ scores. It gives you a comparative, standard tool to see how well things are going.

2) Test results provide a benchmark from which to compare success over time.

For instance, if you notice that Little Jimmy scored in the 80th percentile in Reading when he was in the 3rd grade, but only in the 40th percentile when he was in 5th grade, you would reasonably say something is going awry. You’ll then have the opportunity to discover if Little Jimmy felt poorly on test day, has not truly understood his curriculum, and/or the curriculum is teaching something completely different from what is being tested. Then you can adjust the curriculum (or not) as you feel led.

This is one of the reasons I achievement-tested my homeschoolers each year from grades 3-8. (If I see a significant dip in percentiles on a subject I deem worthwhile, I’ll beef up the curriculum. AND when my kiddo complains, I say, “It’s not MY fault- your scores dipped last year”.)

3) Decent test results help keep the relatives off your back.

This is the REAL main reason I tested my kids back in the early days. My mother was an educational psychologist and she wanted to know: Was homeschooling really going to work? The testing gave her something she respected to gauge our homeschool success.


1) Achievement tests don’t always test what you teach.

Especially in subjects like social studies and science, my homeschooling family rarely taught according to a standard textbook- for instance, we’d spend 3 years on Ancient History instead of 1 textbook year. We simply knew that there are times NOT to take the results seriously.

2) Achievement tests are not a good fit for some students.

Some students test poorly- they get test anxiety or simply reason in a manner that the tests don’t measure. Some students learn powerfully in multi-sensory formats, but achievement tests cannot measure this. Students with learning disabilities often cannot get accurate results on standardized tests of any kind. Actually, portfolios are SOOO much more accurate for showing actual homeschool success.

3) Achievement tests can NEVER measure the most important parts of homeschooling.

Achievement tests can never measure the wonder in a child’s eyes when he figures out a new concept for himself. These tests can never measure the understanding gained on field trips. They cannot measure the beauty of an art project or a song sung. They can never measure the power of a poem written or a prayer prayed.

Homeschoolers, make your own decisions about achievement tests if you can, but don’t take them too seriously!

One of the best ways to prepare for achievement test (or real life) is to read…a lot. Read alouds, reading for fun, audiobooks, reading for growth and more. Check out 7Sisters’ Literature Study Guides to help.

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3 Pros and 3 Cons About Achievement Tests for Homeschoolers




Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at 7SistersHomeschool.com, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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