Adaptive tests like the Smarter Balanced Assessment and iReady are inappropriate and contraindicated for a rigorous college preparatory program. There are two main reasons I’ve heard why parents and educators like the idea of testing. The first is as an assessment of what a child knows. The second is to prepare the child for testing […]
One of my preconceived notions about homeschooling was that there is no “test security”. If parents give tests and grades, how does anyone know that kid actually completed the tests alone? Wouldn’t the parent just give the kid an A on everything?
I realized that grades in school are meaningless, too. Parent complain if their kid isn’t getting the parentally-approved grade. How many coaches, parents, and kids have “reminded” a teacher of the academic eligibility rules to play a sport? So, when report card time rolls around, how many teachers just nudge up a kid’s grade a little (or maybe more) to avoid another phone call? Is that really fair to another kid whose grades are not being patrolled by various adults. And let’s not even get into the variations between the assignments graded by different teachers teaching the same class and who gives extra credit and for what.
In my home education endeavor, I give a few tests. We have a weekly spelling test, a math test at the end of a topic, a science test at the end of a unit. I check them, but I don’t record a grade. I want to see that the important details stuck. If there are mistakes, we go over them and fix them, just like we do with all work. The school district review people like to see test, so that’s what we give them.
I guess if I do high school at home, we are going to have to keep grades for a transcript, but we’ll cross that road when we get there.
I started my home educating plan with what I knew: school. I started by making a weekly schedule that allowed so many hours to each subject. The school system gives suggested weekly amounts of time for the “specials”: music, art, and gym. Ironically, they don’t tell you how much time to spend on the academic subjects. I sat down to figure that out from my son’s previous elementary years and a couple of homeschooling advice books. There was quite a range and none of it seem to fit neatly into my plan of 8am to 2pm school days.
Well, the hourly schedule was never used. It went out of the window the first day of our school year because I had to take the car in for service. So, I packed up the kids and took the planned work with us on the road to the car place. The schedule would have failed on a few more days that week because we had activities in the morning.
Instead of a schedule, I write all of the work for the day on the dry-erase board. As things get done, they get wiped off. Are we spending the “right” amount of time on everything? I keep a log of the “specials” to show that we spend about an hour on music, art, and gym each week. As for the other subjects, I realized that it is absurd to put a time requirement on them. Who is to say how long it takes to read a science section or complete a math worksheet? How much language arts does it take to fill an hour and do I subtract the bathroom breaks and other interruptions? So, instead, I make up assignments for the week and post them everyday. I’d say 90% of the time, everything gets done on the day that it is assigned. Sometimes, we need more time on a particular activity (or life gets in the way) and then, I adjust the plan for the next day. I only plan one week ahead.
I still struggle with the thoughts of doubt. Are we doing “enough”? It is really hard to tell because in the last couple of years, I rarely saw the work that happened at school. In kindergarten and 1st grade, a million useless pieces of paper came home every Thursday. But then, it dwindled to near nothingness. So, with homeschooling, I can see the work. I file everything neatly into binders and take photographs of the art projects. When I doubt myself, I can see the paper trail.