End of Year Testing Takeaways

I’ve been blogging for 12 years now which is wild. Having babies, then toddlers, then preschoolers, and now bigger kids along the way and getting to share life’s ups and downs in this space has made a huge impact on me and I’m grateful for the connections I’ve made here and what I’ve learned through your input and friendship.

It’s been a challenge at times to navigate what to share and what to keep more private. I’m a fairly open book by nature, and I’ve realized that’s fine when I am discussing things that only have to do with me. If what I’m sharing involves others, I understand that many times its not my place to talk about. That’s one reason I didn’t share a lot of about the emotional extremes of dealing with my dad’s illness. He was an avid blog reader and I didn’t want for him to have to read about the depths of my pain, because he said the hardest part of what he was going through was seeing the impact it had on us.

Similarly, discussing H and K has evolved over time. It’s easy to share early food adventures and napping schedules and moments I lost my cool with them when they were little, but as they navigate their way through adolescence, less of their story is mine to share openly. I still feel comfortable sharing my experience as a mom, but not so much the details that pertain to just them.

This is the longest winded way in history to say… we got our end of year testing results back! Huh? Haha, yup. That was the point of this. I wanted to share how much I appreciate this annual academic check in and some takeaways I got from it this year, but without going into detail on exactly how the kids scored on each section, despite my desire to brag on them and/or ask for input.

At the end of our homeschool year the girls take the Woodcock Johnson exam through a wonderful woman who proctors the exam in our area. I adore this exam because it serves as a check in for me to see if I have a good read on how well I’m steering their academic path. I’ve been super pleased that their results have continued to line up with what I feel are their strengths and struggle points. It’s immensely reassuring to trust that I do know my children so well and incredibly helpful to get personalized expert advice on how to better provide what they need to continue to learn and grow.

What is the Woodcock Johnson Exam?

The Woodcock Johnson Test includes 18 tests for measuring general intellectual ability, broad and narrow cognitive ability, academic domain-specific aptitudes and related cognitive functioning. The exam takes 60-90 minutes to administer with a trained proctor.

I’ve come to really appreciate this kind of examination of the girls’ academic and intellectual strengths and weaknesses. It gives me so much insight into how they have progressed each year, which areas they are thriving in, and which areas we need to focus in on more the next year. This information is invaluable, as one reason we love homeschooling is to be able to tailor the education to their specific needs.

Elizabeth, whom I refer to as my personal guru, gives the girls their exams and is a wealth of knowledge. She provides not only detailed feedback on how they performed but specific recommendations for materials to use for areas they need more assistance in. As I’m organizing our materials for next year, I use her recommendations to make necessary adjustments.

Here are a few takeaways from this year’s tests. First, for Hailey.

  • Switching to E-Singapore has been hugely beneficial for Hailey. It’s taken the stress and drama out of math lessons by breaking it into bite-sized lessons to do more frequently. Short lessons help her digest and implement the material more effectively, as the progress she has made proves. We will continue with this for the upcoming year, as it goes through 5th grade. Then… who knows; we’ll figure it out next year.
  • Reading comprehension and writing are her strength. She has an innate creativity that serves her well with writing and we will continue using IEW SSS to further develop her technical writing skills.
  • On Elizabeth’s recommendation, I’m going to pick up some Life of Fred books as a fun way to introduce or review math concepts for children that enjoy stories.

And a few take away points for Kaitlyn:

  • Additional work in phonics will be helpful for Kaitlyn, so I am debating between purchasing the All About Reading program or Explode the Code with teacher manual. We’ve done the ETC workbooks before but feel I need the teacher’s guide to better guide and assist. I know that becoming a strong reader is such a great base for all of education and life in general and am excited to focus in on this area with her. While we are in our “school light” summer phase, I’m also going to give her some additional play time with Fast Phonics.
  • Math reasoning is a natural for Kaitlyn, a gift from her dad (and Mema who was a college math professor) no doubt! We will continue with E-Singapore for her as well, though I’ll be following along more closely and offering some extensions to further challenge her.
  • Getting this child to slowdown and focus is always an adventure, so I’m going to embrace her energy and plan on adding in more more hands-on experiments in our lessons. We will be using Gather ‘Round for the first time this year and my understanding is that there are a lot of additional crafts and experiments available to add in to the units. We are really looking forward to some theme-based learning this upcoming year!

I have played around with having them take some standardized tests just to get them comfortable with that style of testing, but Elizabeth recommended the middle school years as a good time to introduce that, so I think I’ll hold off for at least another year. For now, the Woodcock Johnson results offer me the personalized feedback I’m after. Though I don’t know exactly when we’ll start our 5th grade and 3rd grade year, I’m already looking forward to it!

Any questions about any of this? Or any input on phonics or otherwise? I’ve gotten some of my best tips from you! Also, does anyone else geek out over understanding more about how their child’s brain works and how they learn best? To me it’s one of the most fascinating things about this homeschool journey.