Well, my children (all except Boy #4) have finally taken their first nationally normed standardized exams, the California Achievement Test. It is a change to our homeschool routine necessitated by Ohio law. Well, actually, it won’t be necessary until next year, but I wanted them to have experience with such exams before one came that counted. Even in Texas and Missouri, I was hoping to add standardized tests to their experience, I just didn’t think it could come as a necessity any time soon,
It went really well. I was able to proctor the exam myself, which was a strange experience. Not that it was strange because I have never proctored standardized tests before. Quite the contrary — both as a school teacher in Texas and as an actuary, I’ve administered my share of such exams! And, as I explained to 13-year-old Boy #1, I, personally, have taken approximately 13 billion such exams, myself. So in that sense it was not a novel experience. But the last exams I administered were actuarial exams which, once they got started, were full of vast amounts of time (really, hours) in which I, as the proctor, had nothing to do but listen to the scratching of pencil on paper — and, of course, to the weeping and wailing of those who discovered they had not prepared adequately. (Sure, the weeping and wailing is in their heads, but having been there myself I could hear it. 🙂 )
In these cases, each portion of the exams is relatively short — 10-20 minutes — so there is more interaction. Also, Boy #3’s exam was at a lower level, which required even more interaction. With his exam, a new sample problem is reviewed immediately before problems of that sort are tested, so, for instance, on the math computation you do an addition sample together before the addition problems, a subtraction example together before the subtraction problems, etc. For Boys #1 & #2, there was no such requirement. Actually, even though Boy #1 & Boy #2 had different tests for different grade levels, the instructions and timings for their exams were exactly the same, which was a pleasant surprise.
I think they were intimidated by the thought of doing the exams, so going through this first one was a great opportunity to realize that these kinds of exams “ain’t nothing but a thing.” If anything, I think they are a bit more confident about what they know, having gone up against a national exam and realizing, “You know what? I actually know things!” So it was a good experience.
Now the long wait for the results!