Please STOP! You Are Using Placement Tests WRONG!

Are you wondering where your child is in math or reading?

Are you looking for which level to start them out in a curriculum?

If you answered “yes” to either or both questions, then you will want to keep reading.

What you are looking for is your child’s placement. Placement typically refers to the grade level that your child is working at in a given subject, and while it would be great if there was a universal placement level, the honest truth is that true placement is relative. Curriculum publishers have their own definitions of “grade level” placements, as do school districts, and teachers. It largely is defined by state and school standards.

The takeaways in all this are:

  1. Placement tests are a rough guide of approximate grade level placement. They are not set in stone.

  2. Please save yourself and your child the time, stress, and effort and forego the free placement tests.

You know the tests.

They are the ones offered by publishers like Saxon, Teaching Textbooks, and Singapore to place students within their curriculum. They are free and peddled by countless homeschool blogs, sites, and other well meaning homeschoolers as a way to measure your student's grade level placement in a given subject, like math or reading. These tests are great IF you are going to use the publisher's curriculum. However, they SUCK for general grade level placement.

I cannot tell you how many parents have come to me completely frustrated and confused after following this flawed advice.

A Word About Curriculum Placement Tests

Placement tests are handy and helpful, but only when you intend on using the curriculum the test is designed for. Please, please, PLEASE refrain from using a placement test to determine your child’s grade level ability in a subject. Curricular placement tests are NOT designed to measure general ability. They are, after all, PLACEMENT tests, meant for placement in a specific curriculum.

While it may seem like a great, cost effective way to determine your child’s grade level ability, I can assure you that it is not. In fact, using a curricular placement test to find your child’s grade level ability will likely result in confusion and frustration. Remember, the publishers have their own agenda and list of concepts and topics that they address which varies from publisher to publisher. If you are looking to get an idea of where your child is performing compared to his age and development peers, then bypass the free placement test lists found all over the web.

Alternatives to Free Curricular Placement Tests

An accurate and useful option would be to take a standardized test like the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) or a Stanford Achievement Test (SAT). Both tests provide grade level ability levels in primary subjects based on same-age peer performance.

The drawbacks to using a standardized test are that they are time consuming, not suitable for young children, and can be costly, not to mention the philosophical issues that surround standardized tests. They are not generally designed for students of color or cultures other than the US.

For families wanting a simple, accurate, and convenient way to determine their child’s ability levels, SpritelyMind offers a parent administered assessment that can be done in the comfort of your own home. It is suitable for all age, grades, and ability levels. Moreover, it is relatively quick to complete, and is un-timed.

Our placement test is truly designed for homeschoolers to use to help guide instruction and planning.

Learn more about SpritelyMind's Placement Test

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