Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Should You Test Your Homeschooler

Assessment Testing and Homeschool
Assessment Testing and the Homeschooler
To test or not to test is becoming the burning question. Let me first start by saying that this is a heated topic and no matter what the facts you have to make a decision based on your lifestyle and your personally convictions from God. Only God knows the future for your particular child. Testing produces and meets a very different academic and creative objective than making the decision not to test at all. Lets start with how it all started...

The Origins of Intelligence Testing and IQ
So where did IQ testing start? The idea of measuring intelligence is rooted in the view of nature suggesting that all humans can be measured by the same standards. However cognition is a spontaneous process with humans learning through repeated patterns of stimulus and response while building cognitive maps all along the way. Consequently there is substantial debate over the practice of intelligence testing and the routine of scoring students against one another arguing that a successful score is often rooted in conformity, culture and social status motivating some to create alternatives to the traditional intelligence tests such as Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Survey. Although the idea of measuring intelligence in some way existed from the foundations of the study of psychology the United States military was the first to begin using intelligence testing around WWI, demonstrating the practicality of doing so and moving it into common practice. The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale is the most commonly used instrument for the determination of an Intelligence Quotient, referred to as an IQ score, however the practice of IQ testing may not be the best instrument available to psychologists today should he or she want to determine how to best meet the needs of an individual student. A traditional intelligence test such as the Stanford-Binet measures intelligence based on factors such as memory, abstract reasoning and psychosocial development whereas a test of multiple intelligence measures areas of personal strength such as special ability or logic by way of total score rather than norming.
Challenges to the Definition of Intelligence
The Stanford-Binet is a normed referenced test that compares the test population against others of the same age group assuming that all test takers are equally knowledgeable and of equal social status and culture. So then, when this test is given to any population someone must score in the bottom of the curve as well as the top. Are you starting to get the picture??? In addition to the problem of normed reference and scoring, another problem with IQ testing is that an individual may not demonstrate his or her abilities until a task requires it making proper measurement virtually impossible.  Consequently, it is essential that environment such as school or home life require an individual to form cognitive maps before such time as that individual could be expected to demonstrate knowledge for the purpose of testing so then if said individual is in an environment consistent with low socioeconomic status then it is quite possible that the person will lack the opportunity to form cognitive maps producing a low IQ score.
Measuring Multiple Intelligence as an Alternative
In the case of determining individual intelligence and predicting the best learning environment for each child, Garner’s Multiple Intelligence Survey may be the best tool. Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Survey measures intelligence using a total score in eight specific areas: Linquistic, Logical-Mathmatical, Musical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Spacial-Visual, Interpersonal, and Intrapersonal. So whereas one may not test strong on a test in both verbal and mathematical abilities by way of standard achievement methods, by Gardner’s theory this individual is not considered weak in a specific area but rather strong in his or her area of intelligence. Furthermore, by using a total score method rather than normed reference one is merely competing against one’s own abilities.
Whatever your decision, to test or not to test, I hope that you will feel much more informed about the process. I also hope you will consider learning more about your child's areas of strength as well as his or her personal learning style. I personally have chosen minimal testing. Yes, we do test some so that our children will learn how to test, however each child is a unique creation with God given abilities and strengths. We want them to grow and flourish in that creativity. After all, isn't that what you homeschool for?
You may also want to read Teaching to Your Child's Learning Style.
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