Thinking About Standardized Testing?
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Now that we've entered the spring semester, it's time for me to start thinking about whether or not I will do any standardized testing with my children this spring. Since I live in Texas and my state does not require formal testing, this decision is based on my family's preference. Other states require yearly standardized testing, so it's best to verify what your state requires you to do each year.

This year, I plan to give my children standardized Iowa Assessments. I can order this through BJU Press Homeschool or a HomeWorks Consultant. Before placing my order, I must determine which format I prefer my children to use: online or paper tests. The content and time restrictions are the same using either format. One of the key differences between the two formats is who the test administrator will be. The online option uses an approved test administrator from the BJU Press Testing & Evaluation office. In contrast, the paper-based test requires me to become an approved test administrator or find a local approved test administrator to test my children. This will vary state by state.

Are there any benefits to giving your children the Iowa Assessment?

One benefit is that I can see strengths and weaknesses from an objective party. While it is often easy to recognize when we have crossed a giant hurdle in math or finally reached a pivotal point in learning how to read, sometimes it is harder to recognize when we have made gradual progress or have had a slight decline in a subject. The Iowa Assessments allow me to step back and let my children show off what they have learned. Once I get the results back, I will have a clearer picture of how my children have progressed through the year. This will also give me an idea of how to adjust for the next school year as we continue cultivating our strengths while providing more opportunities to strengthen our troublesome areas.

How do you prepare for the Iowa Assessments?

Good news! They have been preparing for the Iowa Assessments all year by doing their daily lessons so that we will not do any last-minute cramming or studying. My goal is to get a good snapshot of their capabilities, not make sure they get a perfect score. I want this to be a stress-free, no-stakes testing experience. On the test day, I will show them how to fill in a scantron bubble, ask them to do their best, pray for them, and then start the test.

When should you order the Iowa Assessments?

If you decide to use the Iowa Assessments, you'll want to order the tests at least six weeks before your desired test date. I usually aim to order about two months from my test date.

If you want to test using the online testing format, you'll be limited to the dates/times the BJU Press Homeschool Testing & Evaluation office has available when you place your order. This is something to keep in mind if you hope to test in May/June when many families are wrapping up their school year.

How do I know which level of the Iowa Assessments to order?

The BJU Press Homeschool catalog and website have done a tremendous job helping take out the guesswork of which "level" to order. If you are testing at the end of your school year, you'll want to order based on the grade your children are finishing. So, if you have an eight-year-old finishing 3rd grade, you will find "Grade 3," which shows "Level 9".

If you prefer the paper format for testing, use this link to find the level you would need for your student:

If you prefer the online format for testing, use this link to find the level you would need for your student:

How long will it take to get the results from the Iowa Assessments?

Typically, Once BJU Press receives your completed tests and required paperwork, results will generally be available to you online within ten business days. (Please allow two extra weeks in May and June.) They will send an email to you as soon as the results are posted online to your account at to view online and print out as needed.

It is important to remember that the intention of the Iowa Assessment is not to tell you which grade level your child should be in next year. This test compares where your child is performing in relation to his or her peers. Grade equivalency measures academic growth year by year. It does not indicate grade placement. It simply tells if the child has mastered the material at that grade level. This will allow us to see where adjustments are needed for the next school year.

Test interpretation guides are accessible via your account under "My Test Scores" when you receive your student's test results. This guide will assist you in understanding your child's test scores.

If you choose to use the Iowa Assessments annually or semiannually, you can also compare their growth from year to year. This will provide an even better picture of their progress as they move through their years of homeschooling!

Meet the Author

Megan Hutson - HomeWorks by Precept Consultant


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