By now, if you child took a standardized test in the spring, you should have the results back. Unlike a school test which gives either a letter grade or a percentage, standardized tests give several different grades. None of the numbers you see indicate a passing or failing grade. What do the numbers mean to you and your child if there is no pass/fail grade? You have to break down the numbers into meaningful information.
Understanding a norm-referenced test
The standardized test your child took is called a norm-referenced test. Norm-reference is a process that allows scores from all versions of a single test to be normalized into a meaningful score. For example if your child took the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) test at the third grade level, and your child’s test was version B and another child in a different city took the same level test but had version A, the scores would be different. Some questions on one version may be somewhat more difficult than questions in a different version. In order to normalize (norm-reference) the scores so that they accurately reflect an even playing field, the scaled/standard score is used. Why Do Standardized Testing Programs Report Scaled Scores (Tan, et al,) explains in detail how testing companies derive scaled scores.
Your test results will include a page that shows the breakdown of each test component, and a composite score. For each part of the test, there are four scores; SS, GE, NPR, and NS. Each score has a different meaning.
SS is a standard/scaled score. This score gives the actual grade received on the test. You can use this grade to see if your child is making improvements from year to year. However, this score is only meaningful if you take the same test every year. There is a scale next to your score that shows the proficiency level of your child. Most kids test at a proficient level. Some will score above or below proficient. Use the sub-test scores to find areas where your child excels and where they need improvement.
GE is the grade equivalent score. It is shown as a decimal. This grade does not tell you the grade level for your child. For example, if your fifth-grader has a GE score of 9.2 in math, it means that a ninth-grader in the second month of the school year would be expected to get a similar score on the test your child took. If the score was 4.9, then it means that a fourth-grader in the ninth month of school would be expected to get the same score. Use the GE grade to see if your child is performing at grade level or not.
NPR is the national percentile rank. This score shows where your child ranks nationally as compared to others who took the same test. Most kids will get a score somewhere in the 50 percentile. A score of 50 percent means that 50 percent of all students who took the test scored at or below this score. A score of 25 percent means that only 25 percent of all students taking this test scored at or below this score. A score of 80 percent means that your child did better than 80 percent of all students taking the test.
NS stands for national stanine. This is a single digit number assigned to your child’s score. The higher the number–the better the score. Nine is close to a perfect score.
Still confused? The powerpoint presentation Iowa Test of Basic Skills: A quick overview of score interpretation, gives a really simple and visual explanation of how to interpret scores.
Using test scores
Test scores are useful in helping you determine where your child is academically. The sub-scores in math and English will show areas that need improvement and areas where your child does well. Use the scores to develop a curriculum for the upcoming year that is exactly tailored to your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Standardized tests are just a tool. Use them to help you find the best curriculum for your child.
Don’t misunderstand the title of this post. I believe that the Romeike family should be allowed to stay in the United States. However, their defense attorney, Michael Farris, from the Home School Legal Defense Association failed to prove his case and now the family faces deportation. I would rather see the U.S. go after those who are in this country illegally, lets start with those in jail, instead of picking on a family who just wants to homeschool their kids. But, that is not the purpose of this post.
What everyone seems to be missing is that this decision is good for U.S. homeschoolers. It turns out that the press, especially Christian based press, which was claiming that homeschoolers in America would loose their right to homeschool if the courts ruled against the Romeike family, was wrong. In fact, the Romeike Decision strengthened parental rights in the U.S. You can read the entire decision by clicking on the link at the top of this post. It is a copy of the court document.
The Romeike’s appeal for asylum was denied on May 14, 2013. A unanimous decision of the Sixth District Court stated that “…the United States Constitution protects the rights of “parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control,” Yoder, 406 U.S. at 233; see Pierce, 268 U.S. at 534–35; Meyer, 262 U.S. at 400–01…”
So, although the ruling states that homeschooling is not grounds for asylum under political and religious persecution, the ruling reaffirms parental rights for U.S. residents. The Romeike’s lost their appeal, but U.S. homeschoolers won a battle – reaffirmation of homeschooling as a Constitutional right. Every time a court rules in the favor of, or supports homeschooling in a decision, it helps to keep our right to homeschool alive.
I feel for the Romeike family. My heart goes out to them. Having to live with the possibility of losing your children must be awful. But this is out of our hands. The family can continue to fight the court’s decision and face possible deportation, they can look for another country to take them in, or they can return to Germany. The latter would be the worst option for them if they decide to continue to homeschool. Losing their children to the state is a very real possibility for them. But this is how it is in Europe. Most European countries have very strict rules regarding homeschooling.
In the United States, we are fortunate to have a Constitution that recognizes individual rights and freedoms. The recent decision against the Romeike family supports and reaffirms our rights as homeschooling parents. Justices of the Sixth District Court did an outstanding job. They found that the Romeike’s defense did not prove their case, but the Justices also managed to protect the rights of parents in the U.S. to homeschool their children. It was a good decision. I wish the Romeike family peace and happiness in their quest to find a place to homeschool their children.
What is up with the U.S. Government? In a case that I find mind-boggling, the Department of Justice is looking to deport a German family who came here under the promise of political and religious asylum. After being granted asylum in 2010, the Romeike family moved to rural Tennessee and continued to homeschool their children. They are law abiding people. The kids are good kids and they don’t get into trouble. Uwe Romeike supports his family by giving piano lessons. And yet, the Government says they should go back to Germany. Wow.
This is not a political blog. I have enough on my plate dealing with breast cancer and getting my high school senior ready to enter community college in the fall. I really am not in a mindset to take up a cause. But, this situation should scare every homeschooler in the United States. Why? If the Romeike family is deported, we all could lose our right to homeschool our children.
Is homeschool a fundamental right?
The U.S. Attorney General’s position is this situation is that the right to homeschool is not a fundamental right. That is why the Justice Department is trying to deport the Romeike family. Our Government is claiming that the Romeike family does not have the right to raise their children as Evangelical Christians in a homeschool environment. They say that in Germany that homeschoolers are not a recognizable group because not all homeschoolers are Christian and not all Christians homeschool their children. Since when do you have to be part of a group to seek asylum?
What happens to homeschoolers if the Romeike family is deported? It sets legal precedence that homeschooling for religious reasons is not a fundamental right. Get that–not a fundamental right. It removes the protection under the Constitution for us to homeschool our children.
Michael Farris and the HSLDA have an alternative agenda
Many people, especially those who are not Christian, feel that Michael Farris does not always have the general homeschool population’s best interest at heart. Sometimes this is true. He follows his path of very conservative Christianity—he is not secretive about that. Other times, he is dead on and this is one of those times. This is all about the possibility of losing our rights to homeschool and to raise our children as we see fit. Check out Glenn Beck on the Romeike Family situation
A brave new precedence
Our legal system is a set of laws that are interpreted by precedence. We get to homeschool legally because judges across America interpreted the U.S. Constitution to protect homeschooling under personal freedoms and fundamental rights. This case, brought against the Romeike family says that homeschooling is not a fundamental right. That overturns precedence and sets a new one. The next time a school district says that parents allowing their kids to be truant or that a divorced parent says their kids must attend public school against the other parent’s will, our homeschool kids will be going to public school if the Department of Justice has its way.
I am still confused as to why the U.S. Government would force a family back to Germany where they are sure to lose custody of their kids to the German Government. How is ripping a family apart a good thing. Got to the HSDLA’s website and sign the petition. Yes, it is that important.
–off my soapbox now
Testing packets have been mailed to all registered homeschool families who have students in grades 3 through 9. The packets were mailed out on February 8th and you should have them by now. If you have not yet received your packet contact the testing office.
As always there are several options that will meet mandatory testing.
1) Register to have your child take the test at one of the many test centers. This option is free, the state of Arkansas provides the testing materials.
2) Test with an approved local homeschool group. There is no fee for this option.
3) Test through one of the three approved outside agencies: Seton Home Study School; Bob Jone University; or Brewer Testing Services.
4) Qualify for an exemption. This is usually reserved for students with learning disabilities.
This year you can register for testing online. You will need the information off of the green sheet in the testing packet that was sent to you in the mail. If you are using an outside agency for testing, the white form must be filled out an emailed or snail mailed in with the proper paperwork. For families claiming an exemption, documentation supporting the reason for the exemption must be mailed in to the office. The last day to register for testing is March 7, 2011. Testing sites will not have extra materials and will not admit students who did not register.
During a discussion at park day today, confusion seemed to reign about the wording of the homeschool law and how is a homeschool defined. According to Arkansas Law 6-15-501.
“Definition. As used in this subchapter “home school” means a school provided by a parent or legal guardian for his or her own children.
History. Acts 1985(1st Ex. Sess.), No. 40, 2; 1985(1st Ex. Sess.), No. 42, 2; A.S.A. 1947, 80-1503.5. ”
This means that any type of education provided by the parent qualifies as a homeschool. If the “school provided” is a neighbor, relative or co-op it is still a homeschool unless the school is a public, private or charter school registered in the state of Arkansas. Here is a link to the actual law so you can read it and make your own determination. Another link of interest is the Arkansas Homeschool Rules and Regulations.
I hope that this clears up any questions about who can teach your kids if you homeschool.
Arkansas State Senator Gilbert Baker (R), will bring what is known as the “Tim Tebow Law” to the State Senate when they resume sessions in January 2011. The bill SB 842 , if passed, will allow home schooled students in Arkansas to play and compete on public school teams. This includes sports, band, choir, debate and other types of competitive and intramural clubs. The basis behind the bill is that home-schoolers pay taxes to the local school district and their children should be allowed access to the school’s activities. Another reason for the bill is that Arkansas schools may be losing out on talented individuals who are currently banned from participation solely due to their home-school status.
Home schooled students who choose to participate in public school activities covered by SB 842 will be required to adhere to the same academic and behavioral standards as public school kids. Norm-referenced test scores for tests taken within the prior 9 months are required to prove academic standing. Parents must pay any participation fees if the same fees are required of public school participants. Homeschool students may participate in activities at their base school, the school assigned to their residents.
For more information, see Senator Gilbert explain the “Tim Tebow Law” in this video clip:
“Tim Tebo Law Explained”
I think that this is a great opportunity for all homeschoolers. Read the bill by clicking on the link above. This bill gives homeschoolers a chance to participate in public school activities without adding undo burdens on homeschools that do not wish to participate. Let me know what you think. Discussions are welcome.
Families planning to homeschool for the 2010-2011 school year are required to file a Notice of Intent and Waiver Form with the local Superintendent of School’s Office no later than midnight on August 15, 2010. According to Arkansas Homeschool Law, first time homeschoolers must hand deliver the forms to the office. Returning homeschoolers must mail the form or drop it off at the office.
Homeschooled students in grades 3 through 9 must take mandatory standardized tests every spring. Testing is free, the dates are as follows:
April 4 through 8, 2011.
April 11 through 15, 2011.
Testing packets will be sent out in February 2011. For more information see the Arkansas Testing Website.
Many public school officials are anti- home school. Copyright David Altman
Arkansas Legislature to begin study on changes to home school law
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There are several important deadlines for homeschoolers that are coming up soon.
July 31: is the last day to renew memberships with the Education Alliance.
August 14: although the homeschool law states all notice of intent forms and waivers have to be in the office by close of business on the 15th, this is a Saturday. I would recommend that all homeschoolers file in time to get the paperwork in by close of business on August 14, just to be sure there are no problems.