IF YOU CANNOT AVOID STANDARDIZED TESTS...
...then just invalidate the results.
Here is a short piece from the February 2000 issue of Home Education Magazine's online newsletter (from the days when online newsletters were used). They unfairly called this "Sandra Dodd Cheats on Tests." I never did! I'm simply and subversively recommending that in the absence of the opportunity to avoid them altogether, the second best option might be invalidating them.
On the topic of testing: I have a very serious suggestion which will seem like a joke, but I'm absolutely soberly recommending this:
Don't cheat to get a better score or a worse score. Just invalidate the test either by taking too long, or making a pattern with all the answer marks in odd-numbered sections, or using dice to decide anything for which the answer isn't absolutely obvious to the child.
If the parent and child both know in advance that the scores could not POSSIBLY actually begin to attempt to reflect the child's "actual" knowledge or intelligence or aptitude or value, then that number will lose its juju and its ability to harm the child-parent relationship.
Of all the things I believe strongly, one which has changed my life as profoundly as any one other belief is my personal knowledge that test scores can and do (can't fail to) affect the treatment a child receives at his parents' hands. High scores, low scores, average scores--no matter. Parents cease to treat the child as his original, known self and color him soul deep with that number.
Copyright © 2000, Sandra Dodd.
My life would have been different. My husband's life would have been different, without those 5th and 8th grade ITBS scores. I venture to say without even knowing who is reading this that your life would have been different, and specifically I believe your life would have been better, had not you been branded with a number on your "permanent record" (there's a big mean scary joke, the "permanence" and important parts) as a young innocent ten or thirteen year old full of potential, at some unknown point on a learning curve which might soon be at its settled-out point, or might just be beginning.
Subj: Re: [Unschooling-dotcom] How to satisfy State requirements with an unschooling approach.
Date: Monday, January 6, 2003 . . . .
> I am interested in knowing how "unschoolers" handle the requirements
> of their state in regards to end of the year testing or evaluations.
> Have many people joined a private organization to handle their legal
> requirements or do many use an evaluator? I am homeschooling my only
> child who is 6 years old. I fully agree with an "unschooling"
> approach, but I am uncertain about the best approach when it comes to
> the State.
Depends on what the state requiremnts are. Here in VA we must provide results from a test every August. There are several ways round that for the creative mind. Parents can buy and administer the test
then send it to the company to be marked. All the state wants is a piece of paper with results on above the 23rd Stanine. They get that bit of paper but I don't test my kids.
We can also put our kids in whichever 'grade' we feel is appropriate and test accordingly. Mine are always in Grade 1 and last year we had a blast filling in the grade one tests, making a pattern with
the circles. Each test had a different pattern on the score chart yet each test scored in the 60th centile. Not bad :-)
POSSIBLE test sources. If you're required to test and can self-administer, you might try to get one from these sources (info from various people and unverified):
Try Family Learning Organization at http://www.familylearning.org/ I think
the CAT runs about $35.
IF you have to test and can test at home and must use a standardized test, use google.com to find a test. Enter one of the organizations or sites above, and the word test and I hope your task isn't too hard. Whenever you read this, there might be more and better options than there are now, and I don't want to give outdated information as fact on something I really object to anyway.
I found a site that offers a test when I thought I was going to have to go
that route. Hope it helps. http://www.baysideschoolservices.com
Seton school also has them, and you don't have to have a Bachelor's degree to give it. Seton is also cheaper I think and has no time limits on when you have to have it back to them. Last I heard, they will send it to you, and score it for you for $25. I'm not sure but I think the website is www.seton.org ?
In the days when New Mexico required tests people could batch-test kids in a meeting place, or individually at home, but they only had one option on home-testing, and that was to get the test from Bob Jones University.
I'm not naming the name of this person, but the story is well worth reading:
I had written, in a discussion:
More on Tests
I don't think you will treat her the same way afterwards, whether the
score is low, medium or high, and that's a shame. But that's how people are.
When I was 9 (in 4th grade) we took an IQ test and my parents would not let
me see the results. All of my friends knew their scores, but I didn't. I was
so mad that I wasn't allowed to know! I was sure my best friend scored
higher than me (she always did), so at the time I just wanted to know how
close I got to her score!
Years later I found the IQ test results in a folder my mom kept of all of my
achievements and I asked her about why they wouldn't let me know the score.
Turned out that they didn't want me to brag or have a big head about my
score because it was (what they considered) high. I don't remember it now
but I don't really think it was even all that high, not genius level or
anything. Surely they already knew I was "smart" by age 9? So a high score
should not have been a surprise. I"ve always wondered what that was about.
At the time though, I thought it was because I hadn't scored well enough and
they were disappointed. I thought they were protecting me from my failure.
From then on I had an internal voice telling me I was not good at test
taking. Therefore I became not good at test taking. If I did well, I figured
the test must have been easy if even *I* could score well on it! If I scored
poorly, I wasn't surprised, since I was not good at taking tests. (I think I
still knew I was smart, but somehow was OK that no test could accurately
I was a wreck by the time I had to take the SATs! Top that off by having to
take it in a strange town (where my cousin was getting married) at a strange
school far from home. I didn't know my way around or know anyone there and
was so completely nervous about that, plus the actual test, plus the
wedding, plus the knowledge that all of my friends were standing around
together before taking their tests at our school. The whole thing was
So I scored over 1000, but nothing impressive. I thought I should have done
better and blamed it on the extenuating circumstances. Plus the known fact
that I am just not a good test taker. ;p