The ‘Testing’ Subject Surrounding Home Education

Myth busting Home Education: Why I think Standardized Testing Isn’t the Be-All and End-All!

In the world of home education, there’s a common misconception that home-educated children cannot sit standardized tests like GCSEs or A-levels because they don’t attend traditional school settings.

Today, I want to address this misconception head-on and shed light on the reality of testing in the realms of home education whilst also sharing my own views on why it’s not just a question of ‘if’ children should sit exams but also ‘why’

First and foremost, let me clarify: home-educated children absolutely can sit standardized tests, from baseline testing to A-levels. The options are open to all home-educated and homeschooled children. If parents believe it’s the right path for their child, they can access SAT revision packs and preparation materials from various sources, including CGP and online platforms. The process is accessible, albeit requiring separate payments for each subject which is paid for by parents and currently sits around £150 per subject.

Now, while the ability to sit standardized tests is available, the bigger question that I personally think we need to ask ourselves is whether these tests are truly beneficial for our children?

Many of our family and friends have chosen mainstream school as the educational choice for their children, because of this I have seen first hand how the pressure of standardized testing can profoundly impact young people’s mental health and well-being.

Funnily enough , because we use the CGP workbook range as part of our home education, this morning we were sent a complimentary SAT pack for our daughter’s age group.

As a parent of two young children who have never set foot in a traditional school setting, we have already made a conscious choice to steer away from standardized testing, particularly for children under the age of 10 or 12 and after peeking inside the pack that arrived earlier, I’m so pleased that we made that choice!

As an adult, it made my stomach churn!

Not only were many of the questions worded in an extremely unnecessary complicated way, I would have had a job to complete each question without serious thoughts, never mind a 10 year old!

I also questioned the reason why, in my 44 years young, if I had never needed to calculate these sums in this way, why on earth would a child need to!

So why am I against testing my own children? Simply because there is little evidence to suggest that standardized testing has a positive impact on children academically, mentally, emotionally, or socially.

In fact, standardized testing often places unnecessary pressure on young learners, instilling the belief that their worth is determined by grades on a piece of paper. This emphasis on test scores neglects the amazing talents, interests, and potential contributions of each individual child.

It also fails miserably in accounting for the development of the individual beyond their academic achievement.

For example, how can a test result tell us if a child is gifted in music or acting?

Does it reflect their personality in any way?

The answer as far as I can determine, is no.

While certain career paths may require standardized testing for entry, it’s important to recognize that success and fulfillment in life extend far beyond test results. Young people should be encouraged to explore their passions, talents, and interests, irrespective of standardized test outcomes and scores and grades on a piece of paper.

Thankfully, albeit a small one, there is a shift occurring in some educational institutions, such as the Open University, which will now take into account their decision to allow entry on an individual as a whole rather than simply over rigid test scores.

By encouraging this positive shift in academic behaviour and showing that we value the whole person instead of just a score which is realistically only valid on the day which it was achieved, we begin to nurture a culture of positivity, self-confidence, and resilience among young learners instead of a black and white answer.

In my opinion, the debate surrounding home education and standardized testing extends beyond the mere ability to be able to physically sit exams.

It’s more about reevaluating the role of testing in education as a whole and prioritizing the well-being of our children.

Let’s shift the focus from test scores to nurturing the diverse and unique talents and potential within each and every child. That, to me, really is the essence of a true education.

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