A Mom’s Anxiety About Academic Testing
Monday, 13 May 2019

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I will never forget when my husband asked me if we should do a standardized test for our kids. His question sent shock waves through me as it brought forth all sorts of anxiety about how well I was teaching our children. Yes, I knew we were learning and making progress, but I was scared. The doubts poured in. Were we on grade level? Were there gaping holes? Had I selected the right curriculum? Was I doing enough? Was I doing too much? Even though my children would be taking the tests, I felt that their scores would really be a reflection of how I was doing. Does any of this sound familiar?

It wasn’t easy, but I admitted to both myself and my husband that I was anxious about having our kids academically tested. I was afraid that perhaps I wasn’t the best teacher or that I was somehow failing them. Further, our oldest was in public school through 4th grade before we began homeschooling, so he had already taken a couple of standardized tests. With him, part of my fear was that I had set him back through our homeschooling. After all, our first year had a few bumps along the way as we were new to homeschooling.

How did we resolve this issue? First, I spent a lot of time praying about my anxiety and my own insecurities. Through this process, and with encouragement from my wise husband, I realized the goal of testing the first time was really to get a baseline of where our children were. It would be a baseline for all of them, no looking back. Without knowing where they were academically, how could we determine if we were on the right path educationally?

Our first year, we tested the oldest two, our 6th grader and 2nd grader. We selected an online option for testing. I proctored the tests and battled with myself not to hover and not to help answer the question if they weren’t sure of something. I’m pleased to say that I managed to let them actually complete the tests without mom. (But, it wasn’t easy!)

What did I learn from the tests?
Through this process of testing, I was reminded that my children also had a stake in their own education. The attitude and effort they brought to schooling each day would be reflected in these tests. It wasn’t simply a reflection of my teaching. Two years after our first test, we tested again. This time all 3 were tested (8th, 4th and 1st grader). We used the same online test. We chose not to test every year as our children were scoring well academically and above grade level. Had we had academic challenges, I would have tested every year.

How did the testing impact my curriculum selection?
We were using BJU Press Homeschool for a couple of subjects when we tested the first time. The subjects we were completing with BJU Press were our highest areas in terms of successful test results. This eventually encouraged us to shift to all BJU Press materials.

How do I feel about testing now, 7 years later?
I am much less nervous about testing now. I no longer see it as a judgment of my abilities. I know I am using a quality and rigorous curriculum with BJU Press. I know we are schooling and completing our lessons each year. The longer I homeschool, the more confident I become in all of our abilities.

Today, our testing looks a little different. Once in high school, our oldest shifted to ACT preparation and testing. We put more of a focus on that versus continued grade level testing. Our middle son took his last grade level test at the end of last school year (8th grade). He has shifted to ACT preparation and testing as well.

Our daughter, 6th grade, will test at the end of this school year. She will then test her 7th-grade year. I am in the process of debating what we will use for her testing.

In Iowa, where I live, we have the option of testing at the local public school. I can also become an approved tester through BJU Press. Do I want my children to test in a traditional setting to mimic what ACT testing looks like? Or do I want to provide the same test used in the public schools, but in the comfort of my own home? Either way, I know we will continue testing.

My Final Thoughts
Testing does not have to be a negative thing. Whether or not the results are what you expect or hope for, testing gives you the option to improve your homeschooling continually. It allows you to focus in on areas that need additional support. Further, testing in the elementary and junior high years can help prepare a high school student for college entrance exams by helping to remove testing anxiety for your children.

For more information on becoming an approved tester with BJU Press, click on the link below.
You can also click this link to locate a test administrator through BJU Press, click on the link below.

Meet the Author

Deb Schroeder, blogger at Jesus is My Hashtag