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Our week was primarily occupied with standardized testing.

Standardized testing isn't required in our state, but John and I both feel that the best way to prepare for high-stakes tests like the SAT is to be totally comfortable with standardized tests from a young age. We want our kids to have a positive attitude about standardized tests, and to view them as a fun challenge. It's also possible, depending on their development and interests, that they might wind up taking out of band tests as early as age 8.

The test I picked for this year is the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. I had a choice between the Level 5 and the Level 6 -- one is intended for kids who are in Kindergarten, and the second is intended for kids in the first half of first grade. Since the level 6 test is normed for kids who have completed 7 months of Kindergarten through kids who have completed 7 months of first grade, and Erika is an older Kindergartner who is doing a fair amount of "first grade" work, I decided to have her take the level 6 test. I wanted to make sure the test had some questions on it that she did not know the answers to, and I also wanted the test to have a reading section, which the Level 5 did not have at the time I ordered it in February.

Anyway, I went into the week prepared for the possibility that I might wind up thinking the test was a waste of time, but I actually learned a lot in the testing process.

The kids are supposed to use a marker to keep their place in the test, but Erika didn't want to, and asked if she could skip that part. I was impressed with her self-awareness, as I realized when she asked that needing to manipulate the position of the marker was likely to distract her from actually answering the questions.

During the actual test, I found it interesting how much trouble she had paying attention to the questions, which I was required to read out loud. She took the test together with a friend, so I was able to see how much harder it was for Erika. The other girl simply listened to the question and marked her answer. Erika fiddled with her pencil, pulled up her pant leg to poke at her band-aid, stood up, etc. while I was reading the questions. Then she'd realize it was time to mark her answer, and rack her brain trying to remember what I said. Most of the time, she succeeded in remembering the question and marked a correct answer, but there were definitely times when she couldn't remember. I'd say that she probably missed 10% of the questions on the non-reading portions of the test because she didn't succeed in paying enough attention to the question. She also missed about 3-5% of the questions because she didn't know the answers.

The reading section was really easy for her, since she could read the questions for herself!

I'm sure that the actual scores on the test will be fine, so if I hadn't administered it myself, I don't think I would have learned anything useful from the process. It was really watching Erika's behavior during the test that provided me with useful information.

The one down side to administering the test myself is that Erika had trouble remaining silent during the test. Each section was about 15 minutes, and she had a lot of trouble not talking to me for that length of time! Based on her behavior with other adults, I'm sure that wouldn't have been an issue if someone else had administered the test.

Other Stuff

We intentionally didn't do our regular sit-down schoolwork this week, but life does go on!

At her co-op this week, Erika listened to a story and painted a scene from the story. At science class, the kids learned about plant growth and started an experiment involving sprouting beans. Both of my kids opted to study whether the amount of water the beans get impacts their sprouting and growth.

Erika also:

  • Participated in her Shakespeare rehearsal -- the performance is next weekend

  • Went to the last class in her Karate session. I feel that she's making really good progress!

  • Went swimming

  • Did some reading

  • Did a bunch of pages on mapping in a workbook

  • Wrote a story:

    Little Dog 1

    Little Dog 2

    Little Dog 3

  • Did some math and reading with a friend (the friend was doing her schoolwork)

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entirelysonja

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