Evidence of Progress – Standardized Testing

Option (i) of the Home Instruction Statute (§22.1-254.1 C) provides an objective means of meeting the evidence of progress requirement. A composite score in or above the 4th stanine (23rd percentile) on any nationally normed standardized test must be accepted as evidence of progress by the Superintendent.

To read the complete text of the law: §22.1-254.1 Declaration of policy; requirements for home instruction of children

What test can I use?

Any nationally normed standardized test can be used to satisfy the evidence of progress requirements. A nationally normed standardized test is a test that has been given to large numbers of students at specific grade levels and whose scores make up the norms which make it possible to compare students.

Examples of nationally normed standardized tests include: the California Achievement Test (CAT), the Iowa Test (ITBS), and the Stanford Achievement Test (also known as the Stanford 10 or SAT-10).

Which test you decide to use will depend on your goals for the testing. Do you just want to test to satisfy the state’s requirements? Do you want to test to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your child?

If you have questions about what test to use, it is best to consult experienced local homeschoolers. They can give you information on the different tests so that you can choose one that meets your needs. See Virginia Homeschool Groups for a list of statewide and local homeschool groups.

Also check with the test providers for more information about what the tests cover. For a list of test providers, see Homeschool Test Providers and Services. Note: Inclusion on this list does not constitute an endorsement from VaHomeschoolers.

NOTE: In 2014, there were some changes in standardized testing options being offered to homeschoolers. VaHomeschoolers looked into these changes and summarized our findings in Changes in Standardized Testing Options for 2014.

For what subjects do I need to test?

The law does not define what subjects should be covered in the evidence of progress. Some nationally-normed achievement tests cover only math and language arts, while others include additional subjects. Parents may choose the test that is best for their child, as long as it is a nationally-normed achievement test.

Where and how do you test?

Where and how you test depends on the publisher or the test provider. Each has its own rules. Some providers allow the parent to administer the test in their home. Others require an independent administrator. It is best to check with the test provider to find out the requirements.

A few Virginia school divisions offer Stanford 10 testing to homeschoolers at some or all grade levels. Testing through the school is free and is often offered in the spring (March or April). Scores will be sent directly to the school rather than to the parent.

When can I test?

A parent may test or have a child tested at any time during the school year, so long as the results are submitted by August 1st. Most parents test in spring or early summer. When determining when to test, keep in mind the option of re-testing or finding a different method of evaluation if the test you have chosen turns out to be a poor indicator of your child’s abilities.

Remember to allow adequate time for sending tests and test results through the mail.

Can my child receive accommodations for special needs?

Accommodations are defined by the publisher or test provider and it is best to contact them to find out the details. Usually, you will be required to show a letter from a doctor or school specifying the child’s disability. Contact your test provider for complete details on complying and specifics on the accommodations permitted.

Two things to keep in mind when testing if your child has special needs or a learning disability: the statute requires progress, not mastery and there is no legal requirement that a child be “at grade level.”

If your child does not test well, you may want to consider using an alternate form of evaluation. For more information on additional evaluation options, see Evidence of Progress Option (ii): Evaluation or Assessment.

What is a stanine, percentile, or norm?

For an explanation of testing terminology, see Interpreting Test Scores and What the *Bleep* is a Stanine?

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