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About Testing With WVHEA

by Mary Ellen Sullivan, WVHEA Testing Service Coordinator


WVHEA’s testing service takes up a huge chunk of this organization’s attention. We have been offering this service since 1991, and it has evolved over the years to best serve West Virginia homeschoolers. It is the only service that we contract out to an outside professional to coordinate.


Many people have questions about large-scale testing, and homeschoolers tend to be more inquisitive than the average consumer.


Does the law require annual testing?

No. WV homeschoolers can choose from four assessment options, and two of these involve large-scale tests. WVHEA’s testing service is designed to comply with one of these, option D(i), the standardized achievement test option.


What test is used?

WVHEA uses the TerraNova, published by CTB/McGraw-Hill, but other nationally normed standardized achievement tests like the Stanford and the Iowa are also acceptable under §18-8-1.


Does the law specify details of test administration?

Yes. It says it must “be administered under standardized conditions as set forth by the published instructions of the test.”


What are “standardized conditions”?

The instructions vary with each test, but in general, standardized conditions ensure that the tests are administered exactly the same way they were administered to a reference group (called the “norm” group) that took the test during its development.


Why is standardized administration important?

Scores on standardized achievement tests are reported as percentiles, a comparison to the norm group’s performance. That comparison would not be very meaningful if everyone took the test under different conditions or with different directions.


Can students use calculators during the test?

No. WVHEA has always had a policy that calculators cannot be used for the TerraNova for any levels.


How much does it cost to test with WVHEA?

The basic fee per test is $35. Discounts are available for early ordering and payment, and for WVHEA members. Additional fees are added for late orders and private testing.


How do I order tests?

A testing order form/brochure is mailed each November to everyone on our mailing list: not just members, but also those who have tested with us in the past or requested information. Detailed instructions for ordering are included in the brochure. Click here for a brochure.


What are the deadlines for ordering tests?

Order deadline is February 28 (2/29 in leap years). No tests orders are taken during March and April; that’s when actual testing takes place so it’s a very busy time. There are discounts for early-bird orders and late fees are assessed for orders after early February. See the current testing order form/brochure for this year’s schedule and how to avoid late fees.


When will testing take place?

The actual testing will be scheduled some time in March or April. Your area test coordinator will notify you about the time and place of group testing. Our service works best when people test in groups during the regular testing season, but if you’ve missed the deadlines and need testing during May or June, WVHEA will help you arrange this. Area coordinators do not agree to do late testing, so contact them on time!


When must tests be returned?

To avoid additional fees, testing materials must be returned by the date in April noted in the test order form/brochure.


When will we get the test scores?

You’ll receive test scores by mid-June.

Where do I send our order?

The ordering process works through a series of area coordinators, who volunteer to collect orders from their area and forward them to the state coordinator. This system encourages homeschoolers to work together to ensure there are enough qualified testers to carry out the testing in each part of the state, and it eases communication.


Can’t I order directly through a central office?

WVHEA does not have an office. In certain circumstances, as where there is no coordinator in your area, individual orders are accepted, but an additional fee is added to cover costs. It’s still necessary to have a qualified tester, which is easier to find if you’re part of a group.


What makes a tester qualified?

TerraNova’s publisher recommends that each tester be trained specifically in administration of standardized tests. To comply with that request, WVHEA has conducted tester-training workshops throughout the state since it began its testing service. Every tester must have completed training in standardized test administration within the past five years.


What if there’s no coordinator in my area?

You can volunteer to coordinate testing for a local or area group. If you are willing to donate your time, work with others to make sure testing goes smoothly, and keep things organized and on time, you’re qualified! Area coordinators get a 50% discount on all testing fees for their own children.


What if I don’t have time for all that?

Some areas succeed in working together for testing. One person might take the calls, another the mail-in orders, one can work on finding and scheduling a site, another can work on finding testers. Try a cooperative system where you are!


Are there other ways to help?

You may find that your small children make it hard for you to help on testing day, or that you just don’t feel comfortable being a test administrator. You may be able to help your area coordinator by helping with child care, doing paperwork or phone calls, or helping arrange the test site. If your kids are being tested, you can and should help in some way.


Testing hundreds of homeschoolers in a responsible manner in a spread-out state like ours is a challenge. WVHEA realized that right from the start, and voted to make a testing service one of its priorities. This service exists to help homeschoolers comply with the law, and not to provide income for the organization.        


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