Does your state require you to complete a year-end homeschool evaluation? Are you curious about online homeschool testing? Would you like to get a sense of where your child is performing academically so you can determine areas of strength and weakness?
To test or not to test, that is the question I ask myself every single year.
We live in New Hampshire and we are required to either complete standardized testing or a year-end portfolio. (Are you wondering what is required in your state? Head to HSLDA.org!)
Every year, I hem and haw. Should I test them? Or, should I make a portfolio? Decisions, decisions!
There are pros and cons to each type of year-end homeschool assessment.
Portfolios can be difficult to maintain. You might start strong in September, but then come January you discover you haven’t really added anything in months. Papers get lost. Coffee stains abound. Projects disappear. Sometimes, you find yourself scrambling to throw everything together in June when you’d much rather be poolside in the sunshine.
Testing isn’t perfect either. In my previous life, I was a school psychologist and I would always remind parents that a test is just a snapshot of your child on one particular day at one particular moment in time. So many factors impact a child’s performance on testing, anything from hunger to fatigue to processing speed to daydreams.
Sometimes it’s nice to have that snapshot. I don’t know about you guys, but sometimes I want to cover all the bases. I want to be sure I’m not missing anything. If one of my kiddos is struggling in a certain area, I want to know about it.
In our homeschool, I maintain a digital portfolio. Every other year or so, I add in a test. I do this not because I think testing is the end-all-be-all, but for my own peace of mind. Plus, scores can be useful when planning your homeschool year.
This is a “test year” for us and I’ve had my eyes on the MAP test. I like that it adapts to each child and helps to measure individual progress.
So, when I was offered the chance to try NWEA ® MAP® GrowthTM Testing Services via Homeschool Boss, I jumped at the chance.
If you’re interested in trying this too, keep reading because there is a giveaway at the end of this post.
Online Homeschool Testing Can Simplify the Year-End Evaluation Process
*Disclosure: I received access to Homeschool Boss at no cost. I was not required to write a positive review. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. I only choose to share resources and products that I would use with my own family and those that I believe will help other homeschool families. I have paid for this service several times since the original review was published.
2020 Homeschool Boss update:
Keep reading for our full review, but I wanted to share a quick 2020 update…
The entire testing process was so smooth last year that my kids asked to do testing again this year. We recently completed testing and it was a breeze! I love that we can schedule a time that works for our family, that we can test in a way that works for gifted and 2e kiddos, and that we can test at home. I received the results in a couple of days and they are extremely detailed.
We plan to use online homeschool testing to end the 2021 school year, too!
The 2020-2021 homeschool year was total and complete bananas! This has been the most challenging homeschool year, by far, for our family. And I know I’m not alone.
I am thankful to have the choice, here in New Hampshire, to complete a portfolio or a year-end assessment. In years past, Homeschool Boss has made the year-end evaluation process so simple and so we will definitely be doing that again this year. If there is one thing we need in 2021 times, it’s ease and simplicity!
Online homeschool testing using NWEA ® MAP® GrowthTM Testing Services
We were excited to try out NWEA ® MAP® GrowthTM Testing Services through Homeschool Boss.
MAP Growth is a nationally-normed interim assessment by NWEA. This test is currently used in many public schools and now available to homeschool families.
MAP Growth is a computer-adaptive test. That means that it adjusts to your child’s performance as they take the test, whether they are working on, above, or below grade level.
MAP Growth testing usually takes 40–60 minutes per day for two or three days, but because it is an untimed test with unlimited breaks, some kids need significantly more time than that.
Because MAP Growth is tailored to your child’s learning level, it can precisely measure their academic performance and track growth over time.
Online homeschool testing with Homeschool Boss
Homeschool Boss offers hassle-free testing for homeschool families. I found the process to be super simple, from start to finish.
Before I dive into our personal experience, here are the details about MAP Growth Testing through Homeschool Boss:
- The first student is $60 and subsequent children are $45.
- Students can test in the comfort of their home from anywhere in the United States.
- You can easily book your child’s testing sessions online.
- Results are delivered the week of testing and the score reports are extremely detailed.
- Students can take the MAPS test using a laptop, iPad, or Chromebook. (We used our PC desktop, a Chromebook, and a MacBook.)
- MAP Growth testing usually takes 40–60 minutes per day for two or three days, but testing is untimed and multiple breaks are allowed so timing may vary.
- If you have more than one student, you can choose to test them at the same time (using different devices), or with back-to-back sessions. We tried both options, more on that below.
- Tests are administered remotely, over the phone. You call the number provided on the day and time that testing is scheduled for and you can start testing in minutes.
- Your children take the test on two different mornings (one session for reading, one session for math) and results are emailed to parents on Friday.
- If you have a gifted child, Homeschool Boss can accommodate your testing needs by transitioning your child to a higher level early. You can read more about this process here.
- The report you receive is extremely thorough and designed specifically for the needs of homeschool parents. It includes the specific skills your child demonstrated in the test, what they are ready to learn next, and where they stand compared to current academic standards. (This report is 30-60 pages in length. You can check out a sample here.)
Gifted students and online homeschool testing with MAPS and Homeschool Boss
One of the problems with standardized testing is the ceiling effect. It is not super helpful to test gifted students with grade-level material if they are performing above grade level. Sure, it might feel good to know that your kiddo is performing above the 99th percentile, but what does that tell you? Not a whole lot.
(If you are unfamiliar with the ceiling effect, a frequently used analogy is a 5-foot measuring stick. If you want to measure the height of students in a classroom with this stick, it is only a useful measurement for those students whose height is five feet or below. It does not help measure students who are more than five feet tall.)
I like that Homeschool Boss can accommodate your testing needs by transitioning your child to a higher level early.
I was able to test all three of my kiddos on a higher level and this gave me more information about their current academic performance.
As a result, if I choose to test later this calendar year or next year, I will be able to see each kiddo’s unique academic progress. These scores can be incredibly useful when planning your homeschool year.
(You can read more about the Homeschool Boss process for testing gifted students here.)
Before I dive in and share our experience using online homeschool testing through Homeschool Boss, I want you to know about this…
I’m not a huge fan of testing and my kids don’t love it either. That said, it’s a necessary evil and part of life. I love how Homeschool Boss makes the process easy… because it leaves us with more time to enjoy our favorite homeschool things.
At the top of that list is gameschooling. Play-based, interest-led learning is one of my favorite homeschool things. Play is the language of childhood. When children are engaged in play, they learn more. And gameschooling is the intersection of play-based learning and homeschooling. With gameschooling, you can incorporate play-based learning into your homeschool routine and make it “count” for those year-end homeschool powers-that-be!
Add more gameschooling to your daily routine by joining Never Board Learning
Never Board Learning is a private online community for creative parents and educators who love play-based learning and gameschooling.
With a private community forum, guest speakers, Q&As, day-in-the-life family spotlights, exclusive promos and giveaways from some of your favorite companies, and an ever-growing printable resource library including documentation resources, challenges, and print-and-play activities and games.
Join Never Board Learning today and have more fun tomorrow!
Now, back to Homeschool Boss and online testing…
Our experience using Homeschool Boss for online homeschool testing
This process was a breeze! Truly.
First, I picked the dates and times that worked for our family. Testing must be completed in a one-week period. I chose a Monday morning and a Thursday morning. I entered details for each of my children.
Then, I received a confirmation e-mail with the following information:
- Details about best testing practices
- What to expect during testing
- Instructions for the day of testing
- A link to a practice test
We chose to test during the last week of January (during that arctic blast that had us all hibernating).
On the morning of testing, I followed the instructions and called Homeschool Boss when it was time to start testing. We were set up in seconds.
Testing took place on two separate mornings and each of my kiddos finished in approximately one hour. Kids who needed the occasional break.
I like that there are flexible options for testing siblings. You can choose to have your children take the test at the same time on separate devices, or you can elect to have back-to-back sessions on the same day.
On our first day, I had my kids take the test at the same time. One child who shall remain nameless does not like to take tests and that child created a bit of a ruckus. It was all fine in the end, but it was a bit distracting. Because of this, I elected to have back-to-back sessions on the second day of testing. (Go figure, there was no ruckus that day but at least I was prepared!)
I had results by Friday and they were super in-depth. (In fact, they were so in-depth that I only printed the first page for our portfolios. I wanted to save paper, so I saved the results to my computer!)
I would definitely use this service again. I found the process to be simple and the results were useful.
Tips and tricks for year-end homeschool portfolios
Maybe testing isn’t your thing. That’s okay! I also have resources for year-end homeschool portfolios. You can check them out here:
Now that we’ve chatted about year-end homeschool testing, are you ready for some homeschool professional development?
Do you want to add more fun to your homeschool day, but you’re worried about crossing off all of those homeschool “must-do” boxes?
Your homeschool vision didn’t include workbooks, power struggles, and tears. You thought it would feel, well, easier. You thought it would be –gasp!- fun. You imagined hands-on learning and engaged, happy kids. You wanted to make memories together. To create a family culture of joyful curiosity and learning.
But it hasn’t exactly worked out that way.
Nope. You spend your homeschool hours sweating over math and wondering how you are going to fit in alllll the subjects while your kids bicker over their textbooks and waste time looking for the perfect pencil. Most days your best-laid plans fall apart before you’ve finished your [lukewarm] coffee.
Every night, once the kids are in bed, you tell yourself that tomorrow will be a better day. But every day feels like Groundhog Day lately.
You feel stuck and don’t know where to go from here. You find yourself awake at 3 am, worrying that your kids are behind. That you’re failing them. That they’ll never get into college. You wonder if they’d be better off boarding that big yellow bus. You’re usually an optimist, but you’re beginning to doubt your ability to do this thing. That you could actually be the calm, confident, fun homeschool parent with the happily engaged kids- instead of being constantly plagued by self-doubt, worry, and homeschool checkboxes.
Here’s the thing…
Homeschooling shouldn’t feel super hard or complicated.
You can cultivate a family culture of curiosity and joyful, lifelong learning, and cross off those academic must-do boxes. And it doesn’t need to look anything like the public school of your past!
If the 2020-21 school year has taught us anything it’s that now, more than ever, we need outside-the-box thinkers and doers. Are you ready to shake things up?
We’ve been homeschooling for seven years and we’ve had our share of ups and downs over those years.
I’ve learned firsthand that there are a few super-simple elements of the homeschool day that make a HUGE difference when it comes to cultivating a family culture of joyful, lifelong learning.
I’m over-the-moon thrilled to share my 3 tried-and-true methods with you. I promise each of these methods can have an immediate impact on your homeschool TODAY. More joy and less overwhelm, my friends!
THE LAZY HOMESCHOOLER’S GUIDE TO UNIT STUDIES
Do you want to raise curious, joyful, lifelong learners?
Unit studies can help!
Learn how to create super-simple, effective, and completely engaging unit studies that the whole family will love. Each lesson includes actionable PDFs and printables to help you get off and running.
Embrace those rabbit holes and surrender to delight-driven learning while crossing off those nagging homeschool must-dos.
GAMESCHOOLING 101 ADD MORE PLAY TO YOUR HOMESCHOOL DAY
We all know play is an essential part of child development, but how do you fit it in when you have a huge homeschool to-do list?
Homeschooling can be almost all fun and games. Gameschooling is the intersection of play and homeschooling and it can change your entire homeschool atmosphere for the better!
Play can boost connection, fuel learning, and revolutionize your homeschool routine.
HOW TO ROCK THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR HOMESCHOOL DAY
Reading aloud is the single most important thing you can do for your child’s future academic success. (And we have decades of research to prove it!)
Your daily read-aloud also offers a host of non-academic benefits. Plus, reading aloud makes lifelong family memories!
Learn how to start your homeschool day with the most important thing. Find a read-aloud routine that works for your unique family and fuel learning throughout the day.