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Washington annual home-school testing or assessment: update

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Every homeschool parent in Washington is required to give their children over 8 years old a yearly test or assessment. Test results can be used to help parents evaluate their child’s progress. Test scores are not submitted to the school district, but are for the parents’ purposes only.

According to Washington Home Based Instruction laws, testing in the state of Washington can take the form of:

  • Non-test assessments - an assessment of the student's academic progress is written by a Washington State certified teacher who is currently working in the field of education.
  • Standardized testing - a standardized achievement test approved by the State Board of Education is administered annually to the child by a qualified individual.

When choosing a test, be sure it will meet the needs of your family as well as meet the requirements of Washington State homeschool law. The Washington Homeschool Organization discovered that the Smarter Balanced Field Test that some Washington school boards have started using for their annual testing does not comply with Washington Home Based Instruction laws: http://www.washhomeschool.org/homeschooling/law.html#testing.

While it might be used for public schools, that test does not fulfill the requirements of RCW 28A.200.010(1)(c), as the related law specifies that the test must be approved by the State Board of Education, and the SBE specifies academic achievement tests that have been evaluated by Buros (WAC 180-52-070). Clear as mud? The bottom line is that while the school district may be happy that you’re participating in the test, it will not count towards your annual testing/assessment requirement.

Even if this new Smarter Balanced Field Test was an approved test, it could not be used since the school districts have made it clear that no results will be given out, and Home Based Instruction laws state that results must be included in a student’s record kept by the homeschool parent. So this year, if your child usually takes a test with the school district, you can opt to have your child take a different standardized test such as the SAT, ACT or CTBS, or choose the assessment instead.

If your school district is urging you to take this test, I encourage you to contact The Washington Homeschool Organization. They are asking homeschoolers to email WHOContact@washhomeschool.org with any letter sent from a school district asking you to take part in the Smarter Balanced Field Test. The law prohibits school districts from providing information to homeschooling families without being asked.

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