In Indiana, according to the following article, the testing bandwagon is in full swing.
The News~Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 9 December 2006, Achievement oriented Standardized exams give parents, students feedback
In a time when standardized test scores can dictate the success or failure of a public school, parents who home school their children are increasingly testing their children as well.
Standardized testing is a way for our large education organizations to weigh and measure output as a whole. The modern trend for verifying the effectiveness of the information transfer to the learners is usually some kind of pen and pencil test to provide data to justify funding.
This article contends that a new concept of education finance has emerged in response to substantial alterations in the U.S. education policy environment. The major distinction between modern and old is that the latter was principally concerned with arrangements of inputs in K-12 schooling. The former, modern-era education finance, is concerned with relationships of inputs to schooling outcomes. This modern education finance paradigm provokes a need for (1) research and data extending into the operations of education itself, not just financing; (2) far more fine-grained information than now exists regarding education inputs, throughputs, and outputs; …
By the evidence of the Indiana article the method of the large bureaucracy that is supposed to be answerable to The People, who pay for it, is also being used by people who are privately paying for their children’s educations. The model for the billion-dollar national education industry is being used for the hundred-dollar cottage education trend. The quantification of “inputs, throughputs, and outputs” is being applied by parents to their own children.
Objections to this model are not new.
New Hampshire Politics, Pennsylvania history, 1992, Letter from Norma Young
July 16, 1992
Dear Mark and Helen [Home Education Magazine],
The “professionals” seem to want to hoard the information, releasing it to those deemed worthy. They have created a game involving secret access codes (ACT,SAT, ect. [sic] ), little clubs (fraternities, sororities) and most professions even have their own special languages. … Children have a basic right to be free from fear, whether from physical harm or emotional harm. And parents need to be free to decide what is correct for each child’s individual needs. … Why do I need an affidavit to take care of my own child? Why do I have to maintain records? Nothing sucks the joy out of a spontaneous learning experience quicker than the cry of “Let’s document this.”
The use of a test as one qualification factor may be justified when standardized tests are used to winnow the field for qualification for public-fund grants or college loans. For everyday use, with no public monies involved, the practice may merely be setting an example for families who are new to providing an independent education to their children.
The News~Sentinel …
Testing home-schooled students is “really for the parent’s own information,” Slatter [of HSLDA] said. “A lot of parents want to see how their children are developing.”
Many parents who were educated within the public system are used to being quantified, but it seems strange to hear that without the validation of a standardized test some people don’t know whether their children are developing properly or not.
The sheer size and amount of influence the national education industry wields guarantees that its influence will outweigh that of individual homeschooling families who have little national voice, and no national funding base upon which to rest.
Assuring onlookers that non-tested children are competent and well-developed continues through childhood and into adulthood. It could almost be a joke that precedes the punch line, ‘who are you going to believe, this test or your lying eyes?’ I’m reminded of a man my dad knew when I was ten years old. My dad was retraining from one Air Force career field to another and Sergeant Olson was his trainer. My dad said he was embarrassed because he outranked Sergeant Olson and the man was training him. It seems that Sergeant Olson didn’t test well, and the Air Force promotion system was (is?) heavily test-based. The man knew the job backwards and forwards but couldn’t get promoted because he apparently froze up when faced with a pencil and paper test. Sergeant Olson was also an avid stamp collector which is why I remember him so well. He lent me his large collection of duplicates and said I could have whichever ones I liked. I didn’t so much as collect those stamps as pick them out of the file box and ever so carefully apply the stamp hinges to paste them into my first stamp book, making me the envy of the 5th grade stamp club. Sergeant Olson also introduced my dad to the Columbia classical record club and for years I was lucky enough to grow up listening to my dad playing records from the club and learning exotic names such as Grieg, Tchaikovsky, Dukas, and Khatchaturian. The man who couldn’t get promoted graced our family in ways that still resonate almost fifty years later.
Opinions about testing vary among homeschooling parents. Even a reference such as the one in the News~Sentinel article, “While there are ‘no concrete stats, the majority of home schoolers do give some form of testing,'” doesn’t paint a full picture because the organization providing this non-concrete “stat” represents perhaps between just ten and fifteen percent of American homeschooling families. Perhaps the majority of the organization’s members test their children, but, given the variety of practices within homeschooling, that opinion can’t be extrapolated to homeschooling in general.
Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents, Ontario, Canada, 1998, A brief look at comparisons of standardized test results for home educated students and public school students
It must be noted that not everyone is in agreement about the validity of such testing. The National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest), an organization of parents, educators and policy makers in the United States, has expressed their concerns since 1985.
posted by Valerie