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Old 10-05-2010, 08:29   #1
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To Test or Not to Test...

We are a cruising family with two kids (14 & 10) and have been homeschooling using a hodgepodge of various curriculum. My husband and I have been debating whether to test the kids with a state standardized test like the IOWA or Stanford. **I found a site online that will allow us to give the exam ourselves and at anytime during the year** Our thinking is that the testing scores may be a good way to officially 'track' the kids' progress should they need to merge back into a more conventional setting. We are less concerned about their scores, per se, as we feel the test is completely subjective.

Has anyone run into problems cruising with kids and getting back into the system? Has anyone done the state standardized test while cruising? What about seniors in high school and then getting into college?
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Old 10-05-2010, 08:47   #2
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I haven't done it, but have worked in the educational system. Most districts have some kind of alternative available for kids who, for whatever reason, didn't take the test or didn't pass it. For example, in our area, you can submit ACT scores to stand in for FCAT (there are limitations of course, but it does help some students).
If they do want to have scores for college, SAT/ACT are probably the only ways to go - colleges are a little more strict in their requirements. They are offered in every US state & territory, and a couple foreign countries too. Same for SAT II Subject Tests or AP exams - there's no substitute program for those.
If the scores are important to you for monitoring, it won't hurt your kids to take a test once a year. They'll probably still end up better off because you probably won't take the NCLB stance "the test is everything." But if you are only concerned about reintegrating, talk to someone at the district you would be returning them to - most districts have someone specifically to help families with special needs on the testing issues.
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Old 10-05-2010, 09:21   #3
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Ask yourself how long those kids will survive college if they've never sat for a test.
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Old 10-05-2010, 16:44   #4
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Well, if they've taken regular tests, they should be fine. Once you get into college, you're pretty much done with the hours- (or days-) long standardized testing. Certainly they'll need experience with regular end-of-chapter type tests, but the value to the actual student of the giant FCAT/Iowa Test/pick-your-favorite is debatable, at best.
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Old 10-05-2010, 16:56   #5
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Well, if they've taken regular tests, they should be fine. Once you get into college, you're pretty much done with the hours- (or days-) long standardized testing. Certainly they'll need experience with regular end-of-chapter type tests, but the value to the actual student of the giant FCAT/Iowa Test/pick-your-favorite is debatable, at best.
Yes, they've taken tests before during land-days and both kids scored very high. At this point, we just don't have a tracking system. It's Mom's word saying how much time we spend with each child and how well they are doing in each subject. I am trying to figure out a way to have their 'credibility' logged for the future. Hard to do when we live on the waves and without internet every day. With technology becoming so broad I just know there has to be a way! But maybe it doesn't matter... maybe taking the SAT or ACT or Compass for colleges is enough.
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Old 11-05-2010, 19:52   #6
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Are you using any of the homeschooling programs or just going it alone? Calvert is the only program I know by name, but there are lots of others. They end up with a diploma and everything that way. My roommate in college lived aboard & was homeschooled through one of these, she & her sister didn't have any problems with their paperwork.
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Old 12-05-2010, 02:25   #7
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It's not the test...

As a mostly ex teacher I've always used tests with a fair sort of suspicion.

If I set a test I always made sure that I taught what was in the test with a few broad hints. For an external test I'd do that and make sure my students had done as many past papers as possible.

So before you put your kids to the test make sure (as far as possible) that they have followed the set syllabus by ensuring that each part of the program has been signed off, then get them to do past papers until they can pass them in their sleep.

Not forgetting that some students get an additional allowance for being special needs. Maybe your kids would qualify for an extra boost?

There are probably a few extra tricks if I wrack my brain hard enough but you should get my drift.

And don't feel guilty about getting the absolute best for your kids. Scholarships and highly desirable courses are some of the best foundations for adult life.
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Old 12-05-2010, 08:13   #8
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Are you using any of the homeschooling programs or just going it alone? Calvert is the only program I know by name, but there are lots of others. They end up with a diploma and everything that way. My roommate in college lived aboard & was homeschooled through one of these, she & her sister didn't have any problems with their paperwork.
Before cruising, we used Calvert for my son's 4th grade and K12 for my son's 6th grade and daughter's 1st grade. We all loved the K12 curriculum... LOVED! However, it is internet based and now that my son is in high school he would be required to do some correspondence classes online with a webcam through K12 (I called them a few weeks ago to see if it was possible)... we don't have access to that kind of internet at anchor. It's a fluke we've been in Mazatlan as long as we have AND with wonderful internet. (I do miss that aspect of convenience!)

I feel that both kids are getting great reading (all kinds of books and they each have E-readers), writing and math... Spanish... geography and geology... ECONOMICS (do they even teach that anymore in school? They should!)... and of course the marine life, fishing, snorkeling, kayaking, how to be a good little swab... I could go on! Simply, we have no "official transcript"... if you will. I thought that if we had them 'tested' it might give us some sort of paper trail... some sort of PROOF that they are not morons?
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Old 12-05-2010, 08:25   #9
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Originally Posted by Boracay View Post
As a mostly ex teacher I've always used tests with a fair sort of suspicion.

If I set a test I always made sure that I taught what was in the test with a few broad hints. For an external test I'd do that and make sure my students had done as many past papers as possible.

So before you put your kids to the test make sure (as far as possible) that they have followed the set syllabus by ensuring that each part of the program has been signed off, then get them to do past papers until they can pass them in their sleep.

Not forgetting that some students get an additional allowance for being special needs. Maybe your kids would qualify for an extra boost?

There are probably a few extra tricks if I wrack my brain hard enough but you should get my drift.

And don't feel guilty about getting the absolute best for your kids. Scholarships and highly desirable courses are some of the best foundations for adult life.
Thank you... I DO get your drift.
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Old 12-05-2010, 08:32   #10
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How about at the end of high school taking a trip to the land base to take the high school equivalency exam and the sat/act battery.

That should get them into college and think what a great entrance essay they will have to offer.
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Old 12-05-2010, 08:43   #11
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Well, not with getting my kids back into the system, but with getting myself back into the system - yes.

How do you know they will want to come back? And if YOU do want them to come back, what will you do if they say NO?

I would not take my kids cruising; if I would, I would not worry in advance about how to re-insert them into the s.c. society (meaning the Babylon). Sort of like contradictory messages (to me).

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Old 12-05-2010, 21:26   #12
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There is no doubt that - IMHO - you kids are getting a much more useful and valuable education that what is available in most public schools. I have seen kids on boats and after having "graduated" from boat life and universally have be impressed by their knowledge and sense of responsibility and ability to achieve their goals.
- - However, documentation is important in this modern world to minimize the grief of making the transition back into the "main stream" of life on land. The established "home schooling" companies like Calvert and others provide that documentation "link" to ease the transition. Without that you will need to be creative to get accredited documentation from various testing organizations mentioned by earlier posters. Don't forget the GED - high school equivalency test available to anybody who did not graduate from a mainstream high school. Getting into a college/university is a bureaucratic paperwork exercise of providing what they want to see or mutually agreeable work-arounds. Once the kid is in college/university then "performance" is the criteria for staying in.
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Old 19-05-2010, 20:56   #13
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Currently, we are scheduling a COMPASS exam for our son the next trip we make to the US through a community college where my father-in-law lives in AZ. This will allow him to begin his 'basic' college level courses without a high school diploma. The SAT will be required, too, but not right away. Thought I would pass the info along. Thanks to all for the advice.
PS. The administrator at the community college was extremely helpful. I was shocked. He took a lot of his personal time to give me ideas, offer solutions, etc... and I can't tell you how appreciative I am. Thanks to all!
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Old 29-07-2010, 05:43   #14
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You might want to consider having them take a practice SAT/ACT, starting off with some of the prep materials. If you can get a 14 year old to get a ~1300 on an SAT I can't see anyone knocking you for not teaching them enough. Yeah it's not all encompassing but if you want an exam that's recognized throughout the US, there you go.

Practice tests and study guides are available pretty cheap via Amazon:

Amazon.com: The Official SAT Study Guide, 2nd edition (9780874478525): The College Board: Books

You can also just do module by module, but doing practice tests for what's probably the most significant test of their lives (excluding boards and bars if they go that route) is only going to help and will have real results as far as them being able to clobber the real test and get a great score.
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