Testing in curriculum - HOD/CM approach to this? Start when?

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Testing in curriculum - HOD/CM approach to this? Start when?

Post by homeforhim » Fri Aug 21, 2009 7:17 am

Hi Ladies,

I am wondering how to handle testing as Cathy Duffy suggests that in upper elementary we should be starting to develop some study skills in our young students as this is a necessary skill in the high school years. I know there is much dislike of testing in homeschool circles and really haven't done any in my homeschool except for spelling and math. However, I myself know that I still remember things that I had to memorize for tests - its not all bad! It also does serve to cement things in our memories because of the review involved. We may never foramlly go back and look at our year's work otherwise! What does Carrie, Julie and others here see as good preparation for high school? When should we have tests in the areas of science and history, for instance, and does HOD forsee this as part of the later guides for junior high?

DS 15 M2MM
DS 12 M2MM
Enjoyed Preparing, CTC, Res2Ref, & Rev2Rev

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Re: Testing in curriculum - HOD/CM approach to this? Start when?

Post by my3sons » Fri Aug 21, 2009 9:37 am

Good morning, Rachael! This is a great topic - and one I've become passionate about over the years I must say. I'll let Carrie address your question about testing in subsequent guides, but I can chat about the current ones. First, let me say, that Carrie and I have had multiple conversations on this topic. We are constantly discussing which assessment will be best for each skill our dc are learning. This discussion started a LONG time ago for us - and it really heated up about when we did our masters together I guess - maybe 10 years ago or so? WOW - time flies! Anyway, when we were doing our masters, a key component was assessment. So we spent many years paying attention to this within our own classrooms and with our own dc and doing a lot of follow-up presentations, summaries, discussions, etc. with our professors about this. This is a DEEP topic! When we gave quizzes and tests (of the formal type) in ps, we found that dc studied for the tests and then promptly forgot what they'd "memorized" when the test was done. Weekly testing really didn't end up helping the students with standardized testing - they either knew it at that point, or they didn't - there was no "saving" them when test time came around. We weren't surprised by this, since this fit OUR own pattern of memorizing for tests when we were younger and in school. :?

So, that led us to trying to find better ways of assessment in the day to day of teaching. After a great many years of trying out different assessments that hopefully produced longer lasting results and higher development of skills then the "memorize and forget testing" (Carrie's taught 20 years now and I've taught 14), we found CM! It was not love at first sight, but we were intrigued enough to read, read, read about her methods and slowly try them one by one to see what kind of results they produced. We were astounded! They worked. Better than any other assessment we'd tried - they worked the best! Not right away though, no - CM methods look simple but are deceptively hard, which meant the results took some time to see. I've been a slower convert than Carrie - probably because she researches things to the hilt, and I struggle with change more. :wink: But here are some things I've found that may (or may not) be helpful as you consider your thoughts about this - pretend YOU are the student here and decide which is a harder assessment to do well on...
*Skill: reading comprehension
First method of assessment: Read a short story of approximately 1 page length. Circle the correct answer in 10 multiple choice questions.
Second method of assessment: Read a chapter of a book. Close the book, and without looking back, give a detailed summary of all that you can remember from what you've read.

The first method is a typical assessment in ps. There are multiple problems with this assessment (IMO) - the length of the reading is short, children often can look back to find the answers, children can guess at the answers and still get them right, children can look at other children's answers, little thinking is done about the story, and every child's answers should be the same so there is no individually responding to the story.

The second method is a typical assessment of CM. This type of assessment is harder! It takes truly thinking about what was read, involves sharing a summary from memory, encourages a personal response to what was read - there is no way to guess or cheat your way out of this kind of assessment. It's obvious if you don't know it. That's why our dc may give one sentence narrations at first - because it's HARD, and it's a skill to be developed over many, many years.

You may say, but the typical assessment on a standardized test is more like the first method. True. But, dc with excellent reading comprehension do well on the standardized test - no matter how the questions are asked. :wink: O.k., here's another example:

Skill: Spelling well within own writing
First method of assessment:
Study a list of spelling words each week. Take the test on Friday.

Second method of assessment:
Study a passage of dictation each day. As it is read to you, write it perfectly with correct punctuation. Redo it the next day if you didn't get it completely right.

The first method of spelling doesn't take into account that some dc know all the words already the first day, and some dc fail the test on Friday but then move on anyway. It also doesn't encourage spelling correctly within writing (which is the ultimate goal of spelling). Short of making a grocery list, how often do we write a list of single words? :shock: Anyway, the second method is CM's idea of assessment, and it is harder to do. She also encourages dc asking "Does it look right?", which is what my ds did during his standardized testing for the spelling portion. I actually heard him say that out loud a bunch of times as he took his test - he'd have a little giggle and say, "Well, that word just doesn't look right." :lol: This is also an area of struggle for my ds (as he had to have speech therapy for 2 years and was 2 months premature).

CM had an uncanny ability to assess in ways that require dc to use multiple skills at one time. She also allowed for dc to respond individually within their assessments - which ultimately leads to better retention. :D HOD tries to follow that sage CM advice. For example, what will dc remember better when doing a timeline? Removing the sticker off the back of a timeline picture and applying it to a pre-made timeline or, coming up with their own drawing to represent a timeline entry, writing the caption and year themselves under it, and making their own timeline? This requires more thinking, drawing and writing, and lets them put their own individuality into the assignment (so my ds Wyatt's timeline will look different from my ds Riley's timeline). Carrie and I have both tried the expensive timelines already printed, we've bought the stickers/cutouts, etc. and we've realized that this has less retention than the dc making their own timelines. That's just one example of how much we enjoy talking about assessment. As you can imagine, we love talking about each and every little assessment for each and every little assignment in the HOD guides. In fact, we spent our entire planning trip (five days' worth) discussing these types of assessments for the new guide last month. :D So, you are a fellow HODie after our own heart here, Rachael! :) We LOVE talking about assessments and fine-tuning what is best for each and every area of school, and we have often found the answer is not in traditional assessments. :wink: I am so glad you asked this, and I'll link you to some past chats we've had about assessment just for fun reading:


If you have any other thoughts or comments or questions - I'd love to chat more about them! Thanks for this question! Oh, and Carrie's dc and my dc have all received 98%-99% averages for their cores in standardized testing. I share this because it is a "standard" measure. Our dc aren't rocket scientists - they're just average Joes that have had some pretty tough assessments with HOD. :wink: :D :D :D

In Christ,
Enjoyed LHTH to USII
Currently using USII, MTMM
Wife to Rich for 25 years
Mother to 3 sons, ages 20, 17, and 13
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Sister to Carrie

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Re: Testing in curriculum - HOD/CM approach to this? Start when?

Post by gotpeace91 » Fri Aug 21, 2009 2:44 pm

Wow, I'm glad you asked this question. And, Julie, I'm glad you answered. What a detailed response. It was very informative and solidified in my mind two things that I already knew:
I Love HOD!
I am grateful for all the research you and Carrie do on our behalf!

Leah :D
Wife to the Man I Love since 1994
DS 15 Missions to Modern Marvels
DD 14 Resurrection to Reformation

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Re: Testing in curriculum - HOD/CM approach to this? Start when?

Post by jenntracy » Fri Aug 21, 2009 6:51 pm

i am glad you asked that question, too. the CM method makes so much more sense to me. i am so glad to have been able to start with HOD for my kids. i know we are headed the right direction. What a peace of mind to see how well kids do on "tests".

and Julie, thanks for taking the time to write those examples. i do well in understanding when i have examples.

Jenn D.
Mom to 4 Blessings
DS 14.5 yrs World Geography
DD 13 yrs MTMM
DD 10 yrs CTC
DS 7 yrs Bigger

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Re: Testing in curriculum - HOD/CM approach to this? Start when?

Post by rni'smommy » Fri Aug 21, 2009 7:05 pm

In college there usually isn't much multiple choice on the tests. However there are lots of books to read and reports to write, as well as essay tests. I think that our dc will be more prepared for college by using CM than multiple choice assesmets.

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Re: Testing in curriculum - HOD/CM approach to this? Start when?

Post by homeforhim » Sat Aug 22, 2009 3:57 am

Hello Ladies,

Thank you, Julie, for such a detailed response. I am breathing a sigh of relief. I was considering making up quarter tests for the science (gasp!!!) as a place to start and now I don't have to do it! I am looking forward to putting all the CM methods in place this year as we begin CTC and Preparing. Thanks again and I am so glad it was of help to others :)!

DS 15 M2MM
DS 12 M2MM
Enjoyed Preparing, CTC, Res2Ref, & Rev2Rev

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