Thursday, October 24, 2013
STANDARDIZED TESTING (WA STATE)
This standardized testing stuff seems really complicated and difficult at first, but it can be really easy. There is no required testing in OR, so when I first moved to WA I was really freaking out. Especially about hiring a proctor and having Kendall be tested in a strange house with someone we don't even know staring at her while she takes an important test. No thank you! Another homeschool family told me how they do their testing - through a company called FLO. We've been doing testing through FLO ever since, and it is really simple. I will walk you through it!
The first thing you need to know is, the standardized tests (no matter how/where you do it) are not turned in - to anyone! I am not kidding. You do not turn your scores in to the State or the School District. You do not turn them in to anyone. I am serious! Nobody keeps them, not even the proctor (if you use one). They do not need them and they will not ask for them. The scores are primarily kept for your personal records. You are required to keep these records in case you ever need to prove that you’ve been doing the tests (and therefore providing education), but unless something like that actually comes up (like, say you had a custody dispute and had to prove in court that you were providing education) nobody ever wants to know about these scores except you. I am not joking about this - it seem outrageous, but really, you do not turn them in to anyone!
WHEN DO YOU TEST? In Washington state you are required to do annual testing. There isn't a set date it needs to be completed. We usually do ours in June when public school is out, just because it represents the end of the school year (even though our family continues to homeschool through summer).
HOW DO YOU GET THE TEST (AND WHERE DO YOU TAKE IT?) WA state requires testing to be done through an approved test administrator who assigns a proctor. And only certain types of tests ‘count’. There are proctors that you can hire, but I never liked the idea of paying a stranger to watch my kid take a test. FLO is who we go through. They are a homeschool organization that is based in WA – this is their website: www.familylearning.org
The way FLO has it set up is that they act as the test administrator and assign the parent as the proctor. You sign a form saying you’re administrating the test to your own homeschooled child and that you’re not going to cheat, etc. and then you’re a proctor. Its that simple. And its legit. YOU DO NOT NEED TO HIRE A PROCTOR - IT IS LEGAL TO GO THROUGH FLO AND PROCTOR THE TEST YOURSELF. I PROMISE!!!!
If you order your test through FLO, you pick the date you want test and they mail it to you then (or as close as they can). They send you a test book and answer sheet. Then you have 2 weeks to complete and return the test in the mail (or there is an additional fee). Its kind of nice to have 2 weeks to work on the test because you don’t have to do it all in one day. They don’t send you the answers to the test, just the questions and a sheet for the student to mark their answers. After you mail the test back, you get the results in the mail in about 2 weeks. They do not keep the results, it is your responsbility to keep the test results in your own records.
So basically they’ve gotten around the need to hire an outside proctor by assigning the parent as a proctor. It sounds like its kind of a loophole in the system, and maybe it is, but its totally approved by the State. They’ve been administering tests like this for 20 years. You can read more about it at the website. Everyone I know who homeschools in WA does their testing through FLO. I have done it 5 times now, I think. It is the easiest and cheapest way to go. And its the easiest on your student, too.
WHAT TEST DO THEY TAKE? CAT-5 (California Achievement Test, 5th Edition – Complete Battery) is the test we always use – its one of the approved tests that WA State accepts and its one of the few that FLO administers. Every homeschool student I know of uses this test. They have the CAT-5 test available in editions for all grades, K-12.
As far as cost goes, the CAT-5 is $37. I don’t know how much of a profit FLO is making off administrating the test, but I’m pretty sure its still cheaper than ordering a test through a proctor and then paying the proctor to, well, proctor. If I remember right, I think proctors charge about $50 for proctoring and I don’t think that includes the cost of the test itself. I’d rather just skip the middle-man and do the proctoring myself!