Saturday, July 27, 2013

Test Scores are In

Two years ago we joined a charter school. We were reluctant to make this change because we liked our freedom to homeschool as we choose. Living where we do, things are very expensive and we decided the funds that the charter school would give us would allow the kids to have classes that we wouldn't be able to afford otherwise.

So far this decision has been a good one for us. The school has more or less let me do what ever I want as far as curriculum. They just won't pay for any books or classes that are religious. But the kids have been able to have piano lessons, gymnastics, science labs, and their online classes paid for by the school. I even have used the funds to buy art supplies and science kits for the kids to use. I try really hard to only use the school money for things that I won't have to return or are considered consumable!

In return for these funds I have to meet with an Educational Specialist once a month and fill out the attendance sheet. I also have to write up a brief explanation about what was covered each month. Each semester I have to turn in an example of their work in each of six required subjects to form a portfolio for each child.  At first this was annoying and I found myself doing things just so I would have something to turn in to the school.  But as time went on I realized that because of this accountability to the school, I was getting more done and not letting as much slack off. Before, we would get lazy and spend an entire semester skipping our science or not doing much more than read and talk about books.  So, even though I do still find it annoying to have a monthly meeting and report to write up, it has been good for me.

One other requirement we have to endure in order to be a part of this charter school is standardized tests. Sophie and Ian had to take the STAR test the past two years. Henry took his first round of these tests this Spring.

Last year Sophie's score on the math section was below where they would like students to be and this really made her feel "dumb at Math". It took a lot of convincing to help her see that that wasn't the case and that she had never taken a test like that before. This year after doing Teaching Textbooks math most of the year she came out of the test and again felt "dumb at math."  She told me there were all sorts of things they asked her that she hadn't even studied. After this discussion we switched her to some Math Mammoth, topic specific math workbooks that covered those math concepts she recognized were lacking.

The test scores for the STAR test, the three kids took this Spring, arrived this week. Sophie's score in math was in the "proficient" but on the more detailed scores she scored low in the sections we covered after the test with Math Mammoth. So she was happy and no longer feels like a dunce in mathematics. She was thrilled to see she scored very high, "advanced", in English and Language Arts. She was well above the range they marked as proficient and at the top of the state's target.

Ian, I am happy to report did excellently in both LA and Math. Math especially was strong for him. He score high in all but in the basics. Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division were only "proficient". I guess he needs some more drill in the basics. He seems to get the concepts of math quite easily. His Language Arts score showed he is "proficient" in the subject.

This being the first year Henry took these tests I didn't expect much from his scores. They came in as I expected. He is "proficient" in math and low in LA. Considering this boy hates writing anything and does as little as possible.  I am not shocked by this score.

So what do these scores tell me? Well... Sophie is doing great with LA so I don't need to focus too much there. We switched to Saxon math for her and hopefully the drill will be good for her. Ian too made the switch to Saxon. I think the level we got him is a little below where he could be but I think we will stick with it and cement those basics into his mind a little stronger. Ian and Henry are going to focus more on LA in the coming year. There is going to be a lot more writing and composition and even some grammar.

None of the kids took the science or history portions of the STAR test this year but I am pretty confident they are fine in these subjects. They are favorites around here so I don't need to make them the focus. They happen without me having to make much of an effort. I just need to remember not to forget them entirely.

I guess I need to get serious about planning our our next year. School starts again in a few weeks. YIKES!

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