– Frequently Asked Questions (with answers!)
law pertaining to assessments for homeschoolers changed with the enactment of
Senate Bill 206 during the Spring of 2003.
Here are some questions people are asking about the changes. If your question
is not answered here, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or WHVEA’s US mail
address. We promise to answer promptly.
I have my child tested and also provide a portfolio review?
According to the law, one academic assessment must be done yearly. Testing is
one such academic assessment. Portfolio review is a separate means to fulfill
the assessment requirements of the law. However, some standardized tests do
not assess in all the required subjects (reading, language arts, math, social
studies and science); people who use these tests sometimes submit a portfolio
review for the missing subjects.
I have my child tested this year but do portfolio review next year?
It is acceptable to have the child tested one year, have his portfolio
reviewed the next, test the next year and submit some other means of academic
assessment agreed upon by you and the county personnel the following year.
I notify the county in advance of what assessment I plan to use?
Some counties do ask for this information, and it’s fine to tell them what
you expect to use, but you are not obligated to tell them, nor to use the
assessment you specified. One exception: If you plan to test with the county
schools, notify the county office and the local school as early as possible in
the school year to make sure they have the testing materials available for
standardized test must my child take?
children can take any standardized test that has been nationally normed within
the past 10 years. The law no longer specifies certain tests. The only other
stipulations for this type of assessment are that the student’s knowledge of
reading, language, mathematics, science, and social studies must be assessed
and that a parent cannot administer it. WVHEA’s testing service will
continue to use the TerraNova (Form C), but there are many other tests
homeschoolers can try. The SAT-9, the Iowa, the CAT, and the MAT are a few of
the well-known tests that are available, but you might also want to consider
individual achievement tests such as the Woodcock-Johnson. One resource to
check is www.gomilpitas.com/homeschooling/articles/010499b.htm
for information about tests and testing services.
law says my child’s average test score has to meet or exceed the 50th
percentile, or show improvement from the previous year. What if this is my
child’s first year testing and his score is below the 50th?
discussed this question with the WVDE’s Karen Larry, and it was
agreed that the child’s first test score can serve as a baseline against
which all future scores can be compared.
if my child’s average test score is below the 50th percentile?
How can I show that his score has improved from last year?
are some ways to show improvement:
mean of percentile scores of at least 1 percentile. For example, if your
child’s mean percentile score is 35 one year and 36 the following year,
acceptable progress has been demonstrated.
next grade level with equal or greater mean score. If the percentile mean is
35 one year and 35 the following year on the next grade level exam, then
acceptable progress has been demonstrated.
mean scale score on the same test series. The scale score is calculated by
adding up points for correct responses, with more points given for more
difficult questions. The scale is progressive within a particular test series
(like the TerraNova or Iowa), so that, for example, 15 out of 20 correct on
the third grade test will result in a higher scale score than 15 out of 20
correct on the second grade test. Because of this, an increase in the mean
scale score from one year to the next indicates the child has made progress
during the year, even if the percentile score (which depends on how the norm
groups at the different grade levels performed) has not increased.
mean normal curve equivalent (NCE). The NCE provides an equal-interval scale
ranging from 1 to 99, coinciding with the percentile scale at 1, 50, and 99.
Unlike the percentiles, the difference between two successive scores on the
NCE scale has the same meaning throughout the scale, and it means the same
thing no matter what test or level was used. This property allows you to make
meaningful comparisons among different achievement test batteries and among
different tests within the same battery. So the NCE score could be used to
compare scores from two different tests your child takes — say, the
Terra-Nova one year and the Iowa the following
year — and an increase would document acceptable progress.
that the SAT-9 will no longer be given at WV public schools, can homeschoolers
still satisfy the annual assessment requirement by testing in the schools?
The part of the law pertaining to annual assessment was written to allow
homeschoolers to comply with the annual assessment requirement by
participating in the public school testing program. As most people know, the
SAT-9 has been retired from use in WV public schools and replaced by the
Westest. The new test will be given in all WV public schools next year
(2003-04). The Westest has been in the works for a long time, and we (WV
taxpayers) paid a lot of money for it! The test is a mixture of questions
written to coincide with the WV Instructional Goals and Objectives and
questions purchased from the CTB/McGraw-Hill TerraNova series. This
combination will give administrators two kinds of scores: a
criterion-referenced one that shows how the students and schools measure up
against the state's stated objectives, and a norm-referenced one that shows
(like the SAT-9) how they measure up against a national norm group. Whether a
student has made acceptable progress will be determined by the current
guidelines of the state testing program.
do I arrange to have my child tested in the public schools?
counties send out a letter to homeschoolers each year notifying them about the
deadline for requesting testing. Some counties have developed good procedures
for administering tests to homeschooled students – a homeschooler in Jackson
County has described very well-run and friendly testing experiences at her
local school board office. Other counties may not have as much experience with
testing homeschoolers. It’s best to talk with the county school board well
ahead of testing time and find out where and when your child will take the
test. If testing will take place at a school, make sure the school expects
your child. It’s good practice to have verification of the testing
arrangements in writing and to confirm them with a phone call shortly before
the testing date.
want to use a portfolio review to assess my child, but the wording of the law
has changed for this type of assessment. What do those changes mean in terms
of how my child will be assessed?
important change is that the person who conducts the review must be a
certified teacher and the teacher must provide his/her certificate number.
Another significant change is that the teacher must evaluate the child’s
progress in reading, language, mathematics, science, and social studies and
make note of any areas in which the child shows a need for improvement or
remediation. Homeschool consultant Linda Campbell, who reviews portfolios for
many homeschoolers, says that the new legal specifications conform to the way
she currently conducts reviews, and they will not alter any part of the review
process. What does change is the way the review is reported; it must now refer
specifically to the five named subject areas and indicate whether progress
commensurate with the child’s abilities has been made in each subject. For
more information about portfolios, see About
is an “alternative academic assessment of proficiency”?
alternative assessment can be anything that you and the county superintendent
agree is acceptable. To find out more, read Alternative