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 out 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 individual child and helps to measure individual progress.
So, when I was offered the chance to try NWEA ® MAP® GrowthTM Testing Services via Affordable Homeschool Testing Services (AHTS), 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 Affordable Homeschool Testing Services at no cost and was compensated for my time to write a review. 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.
Online homeschool testing using NWEA ® MAP® GrowthTM Testing Services
We were excited to try out Affordable Homeschool Testing Services (AHTS) NWEA ® MAP® GrowthTM Testing Services.
MAP Growth is a nationally-normed interim assessment by NWEA. This test is currently used in many public schools and now available to the 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 Affordable Homeschool Testing Services
Affordable Homeschool Testing Services (AHTS) 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 AHTS:
- 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, AHTS 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 AHTS
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 a classroom with this stick, it is only a useful measurement for those students whose height is five feet or below. It’s not helpful for measuring students who are more than five feet tall.)
I like that AHTS 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 AHTS process for testing gifted students here.)
Our experience with Affordable Homeschool Testing Services
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 AHTS 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.
Affordable Homeschool Testing Services Giveaway
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, it’s your turn. Tell me: Do you need to complete online homeschool testing each year? What has been your experience? Share here!
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, Scary Mommy, GeekMom, and many others. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram