Getting back to "In Their Own Way" by Armstrong, finally! I've finished the book, but have debated writing about testing.
First I'll digress a little. Basically I feel testing required by the government schools from homeschooling parents is wrong. I'll tell you why. Homeschooling is an acceptable alternative to compulsory attendance at a government school, in Virginia, just as private or parochial school is. Private and parochial schools do not need to notify the government schools of how their students have done on a test at the end of the year. All they need to worry about is that the parents of their students are happy with the results of the year's education provided by that school. There are laws pertaining to these private/parochial schools--one of which (I believe) is that they meet for the same number of days/hours as government school. I don't know what the others are, but they certainly aren't reporting back to the govt on how they (the school) did, or how the students did individually.
My position is that we have a similar situation with homeschooling. We are (I shall repeat in case you missed it) an acceptable alternative to compulsory government school attendance. No level of education is guaranteed by the govt schools, by the way. They can't possibly tell you that each child will have an equal education, that each child will learn all the things that are being taught, etc. "Education" would have to be fully defined for that to happen, and they just can't do that. However, the Virginia home instruction statute requires parents to submit:
either (i) evidence that the child has attained a composite score in or above the fourth stanine on any nationally normed standardized achievement test or (ii) an evaluation or assessment which the division superintendent determines to indicate that the child is achieving an adequate level of educational growth and progress.
This seems a reasonable request, but why is it necessary, really? As the parent, I have to be happy with my child's education and progress, just as I would if he/she were attending a private/parochial school, or I have the ability to make a choice and change the educational methods being used.
A huge problem I see is that as a homeschooling parent, I may determine, all by my lonesome, what course of study my child will follow for the school year. The superintendent may not judge the content. For argument's sake, let's say that for the next school year I will plan a course of study that will include Italian language and literature, Italian history, Ancient Roman history, art, architecture and science for the last thousand years in Italy, Italian imports and exports, system of government, geology and geography, natural resources . . . (you get the idea). Well, when time comes to show proof of progress, the school division will look for language arts and math progress, according to the grade level your child is in--another arbitrary label.
So I just don't see how the two things, my course of study, and their progress requirements, can mesh. I know my kids will progress in those two areas no matter what we study, but what if one year we concentrate more on the humanities and less on the hard sciences and math? And the next year the kids really want to dive into several years worth of math. Probably they'll still do fine on any tests I give them. But to me it's the principle of the thing. I have the right to teach what I want to. I shouldn't then have to prove anything to the government. Unfortunately the law says otherwise. But that doesn't mean it makes any sense at all.
Ok, so I never got to Armstrong's chapter on tests. That'll just have to wait for another day.