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Testing in PA, All You Need to Know

The PA Home Education law requires that "in grades three, five, and eight results of nationally normed standardized achievement tests in reading/language arts and mathematics or the results of Statewide tests administered in these grade levels" be included in the child's portfolio. 24 P.S. §13-1327.1(e)(1)

If you are you planning on having your child tested this year in compliance with the Pennsylvania Home Education Law, here is some useful information:

* For compliance with the law, it doesn’t matter when you test, fall or spring. Some find personal reasons for doing it at specific times.

* The law allows home educated children to take the PSSA/PASA tests. If you wish to have your child take the PSSA/PASA, please contact your school. English/Language Arts and mathematics are usually offered in the spring.

* Home educated children do NOT have to take the PSSA tests. This is a test that is administered in an environment that is naturally foreign to homeschoolers, by a teacher who is unfamiliar to them, and in a group that has been ‘taught to the test’ by the public school teachers. The added stress on the child rarely gives an accurate picture of their knowledge.

* The Pennsylvania Department of Education has provided a list of 11 tests to choose from. They vary in scope and time length. See list below.

* The only restriction on who may give the test to the student in grades 3, 5, and 8 is that it cannot be the parent. Any other family member or friend may administer the test to the child - many families use a neighbor, relative or an older sibling. No one verifies the test administrator.

* Computerized testing is not administered by the parent, but by the computer, and therefore acceptable without further persons involved.

* The parent determines the grade of the home educated child, not the school district.

* The parent determines which test the child takes and the level of that test. The law only states that in grades 3, 5,and 8 results be included in the portfolio. For example, it does not state that a child who is 8 years old must take a 3rd grade test; they may take a lower or higher level test.

* Only scores in reading/language art and math testing are required. Any other subject areas are optional and results are beyond the law.

* Anyone may order an achievement test from the test companies. Not all suppliers have the same requirements for test administrators.

* The testing provided by homeschool service providers or evaluators is not superior to the tests that a parent may order on their own, nor is participation in large group testing required by the Home Education law. There may be reasons to have a test given by a professional, but that is based on the child.

* Studies have, in fact, shown that students do better being tested in familiar surroundings, and for homeschoolers, that would be home.

* There are no "acceptable" test scores. The law only requires that the results be included in the portfolio. The school district never sees the results; only your evaluator looks at them.

Please do not stress over testing. This anxiety is transferred to your child and can be upsetting. Testing is only an educational tool.

Current List of PDE approved tests (as of 02/01/2017)

1. California Achievement Test

2. Comprehensive Testing Program (CTPIV)

3. Iowa Test of Basic Skills

4. Measures of Academic Progress (MAP)

5. Metropolitan Achievement Test

6. Peabody Achievement Individual Test – Revised Version

7. Stanford Achievement Test

8. Terra Nova

9. Woodcock-Johnson Revised Tests of Achievement III

10. Woodcock-Johnson IV

11. Wechsler Individual Achievement Test III (WIAT-III)

Reprinted with permission of the author, Maryalice Newborn

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