As we are wanting to finish grade 6 early and jump straight into 7th grade, I wanted to do some homeschool testing with NWEA mapping tests.
I know I have an incredibly bright child, that is one of the reasons I decided to homeschool in the first place. But actually, I have no idea where he really sits with his peers.
Please don’t get me wrong, I have not decided to do map testing to compare Freddie with anyone else, as neither of us needs that level of validation. The reason we actually decided to do a homeschooling test was that I know when he gets to college he will have to start testing, and I wanted to get him prepared now!
I have heard from lots and lots of other public school moms who tell me that certainly here in Florida they basically just learn to test, and they have tests every week! That to me is ridiculous, but I think going forward we will continue to use these mapping tests once or twice a year. Probably when we think about going to the next grade.
**There may be affiliate links in this post. If you make a purchase (after clicking one of my affiliate links) I’ll earn some coffee money, which I promise to drink while supporting your journey. You do not pay a higher price. You can read my full disclosure at the bottom of the page.**
We opted to do all the subjects, so math, reading, English language, and science through Homeschool Boss. I think going forward we will continue to do all subjects annually but leave science out if we test again in the year.
We are in Florida which is a relatively easy state to homeschool in, we have the following options for our annual evaluation:
- An individual evaluation by a Florida-certified teacher of your choice.
- Any nationally normed student achievement test administered by a certified teacher of your choice.
- A state student assessment test.
- A psychological evaluation.
- Any other method mutually agreed upon by the parent and the superintendent.
I didn’t opt for these homeschool tests to use for the end-of-year evaluation, however, I am now thinking I will. I will be contacting the district this week to see if it falls under option 2 or 5. Homeschool Boss has a certified teacher on staff so they believe it will be sufficient. But I will update you later, if not we will be choosing the individual evaluation by a Florida-certified teacher. If you are not sure about what requirements there are in your state check out HSLDA.
Benefits of Standardized Testing for Homeschoolers
Now, this massively depends on the child, as although for us there are the following benefits, there are plenty of disadvantages too which I will discuss afterward.
- College preparedness. The main reason we decided to do standardized testing.
- Helps with planning homeschool curriculum.
- Identifies areas that need more focus.
- Ensures children are meeting educational standards.
- Can be used for year end homeschool evaluation depending on your state.
- If you can use as your homeschool evaluation another benefit is you don’t need to keep a really detailed portfolio,
Cons of Homeschool Testing
- Puts a lot of stress on children.
- It is not entirely accurate as it is just one test on one day, and we all know that things can change day to day.
- We didn’t prepare at all for the test, but if we had a disadvantage would be teaching to test (as they do in public schools).
- Does not instill a natural love of learning into children.
NWEA Mapping tests are the best-standardized adaptive tests and are the most up-to-date.
The mapping tests are administered remotely over the phone via Homeschool Boss. You call the number provided on the day and time that testing is scheduled for and you can start testing in minutes. (What I also loved is they sent me about 3 emails reminding me of the tests, and detailed instructions.)
They are taken at home on your own computer or IPAD and are not timed. The average time to take each of the tests is 45-60 minutes, however, Freddie took 1 hour and 47 minutes to complete grade 6 math and significantly longer for reading. If you want to know what our 6th grade homeschool curriculum looks like take a look here.
There were approximately 53 adaptive questions for all four subjects. He did have a few breaks with all of the tests. On the first day of testing, he definitely got a little stressed out, but he calmed down after the first say 10 questions. By the time it had finished and we got his raw results he was completely fine, in fact, he enjoyed it. Although he did call me once to tell me that he must have got a question wrong as the question he was working on was too easy!
They recommend not doing testing on the same day, and so we opted for Monday – Thursday for our tests. We also went for the earliest time, as Freddie works better in the morning.
Homeschool Boss and NWEA Mapping Tests
When the adaptive test is complete you will get your basic results. The raw results are just that. Homeschool Boss does give you the NWEA Research 2020 Comparative Data, however, at first glance, I didn’t get it. In fact, I was concerned that he had done really badly. I emailed Homeschool Boss and within 10 minutes she had put our mind at rest, and he was where we would have expected, above grade level.
Within less than 24 hours of completing each test, we received a DETAILED report showing how he did. This was so helpful to decide what areas we needed to work harder on. But also it confirmed to me that he was ready for the next grade. Now when I said detailed I really meant it, the report is roughly 40 pages per subject! Of course, I didn’t print it all out for our records, in fact, I only printed out 5 pages (for all 4 subjects).
Below is a sample score report that you will receive.
The graph below shows how your child compares with other students in their grade.
Testing with Homeschool Boss was very easy, and the communication both via email, telephone, and the online chat was excellent.
The mapping tests are not cheap though, it costs $60 for math and reading, plus an additional $10 for English language and an additional $20 for science. This is the option I took, however, I think going forward I will pay for the yearly subscription which is $162. This includes 3 x reading and math tests plus an additional $10 for English language and $20 for science.
If we can use this as our annual homeschool evaluation actually it is not that bad. Our other option would be to pay for a certified Florida teacher which would cost roughly $50. I will let you know what our county says when I request this option. However, if you are considering this in your state (or even in Florida) I would recommend reaching out to your superintendent to check.
Standardized Testing Preparation
On our first mapping tests that he has just taken we did zero test preparation. This was intentional, I wanted to know how much information he already knew. If I am honest it has just been Christmas and his birthday so I didn’t want to overwhelm him. However, when we come to test again (we are going to do this at least twice if not three times a year going forward.) we will “revise”.
There are a number of ways you can do this:
Test Practice Workbooks these are from Spectrum, if you have not used their workbooks before you have been missing out. They are absolutely excellent. We have used lots of them for different grades and subjects, so I am also confident these test practice workbooks will be as good. They have these books in all grades from grades 1 – 8.
Khan Academy for math – you type in the RIT scores in and it gives you questions that match your child’s level.
Last Updated on 11 January 2022 by homeschoolof1