Personal Reflections 2017 – 12 – What about annual testing?

annual-testing-catMany state home school laws require some sort of assessment either annually or during specific grades. Even if it is not required, it can provide you with additional helpful information. Most Teacher Consultants of Family Academy / Academy Northwest’s provide standardized assessments and / or non-test assessments because Washington State’s home school law requires home school students to have either a standardized test or a non-test assessment each year.

Standardized testing usually requires the student to fill in circles on an answer sheet. Scoring is according to norms (sample group of students) and produce grade equivalents, percentiles and stanines relative to that sample group of students. This requires that the test be given under specific guidelines prescribed by the test makers. Examples of these standardized tests include: California Achievement Test (CAT), Stanford Achievement Tests (SAT – not to be confused with the college entrance SAT of College Board) and Iowa Test of Basic Skills.  These tests take 2-3 days of testing.

In the Washington homeschool, a non-test assessment must be administered by a certified teacher currently working in the field of education. However, the law does not define that assessment. Therefore, when looking for a test provider, be sure and ask what the process entails and what kind of information the parent will receive. These assessments usually are only one session.

Our learning center administered group testing of California Achievement Tests for many years. We also provided one-on-one settings for SAT and ITBS. Further, we offered non-test assessments in person for years and continue to provide non-test assessments via Skype.

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Personal Reflections 2017 – How did Academy Northwest look after 10 years of having its own graduation ceremony?

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Graduation, 2006 – Academy Northwest’s graduation program tells the story. All over Western Washington we have “learning centers” operated by Teacher Consultants. Our title, Teacher Consultants includes two of our functions. We teach classes to our students and we consult with their parents. Our model forms a triangle; each part has responsibilities and benefits.  Visit our website to see the “Family Academy Way” which illustrates how our affiliate school, Academy Northwest, operates.

The Family Academy Way

Here is an excerpt from that page:

The Family Academy Way includes, but is not limited to:

  • Learning within meaningful relationships
  • Accountability
  • Individualized learning plans
  • Professional guidance
  • Documentation of completed work (transcripts)
  • High standards (raising the bar)
  • Personalized help
  • Academic and personal excellence
  • Reinforcement of family values

 

Personal Reflections -2017 – 10 – What part do field trips and libraries play in homeschooling?

library-conservatory

If you ask the students, I would venture to say that field trips played a big part in their learning. Over the years we often visited the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum and then we would go across the street to see the Botanical Conservatory. The Karpeles had rotating exhibits on many topics – always interesting and sometimes they fit right in with what we were studying. Then a stop to see exotic plants at the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory in Wright’s Park in Tacoma topped off the day.

While our students needed to visit the public library for much of their research we did provide them with a lending library that grew over the years. When we moved to Oklahoma, much of our library found a new home in Arrow Academic Center, another Academy Northwest learning center in Bothell.

Some of our activities included a group of students and other included one-on-one studies.

Using Assessments to Unlock Learning Potential

Working hard to assess individuals….now scheduling from August and beyond, 2017!

Gender and exploration (2)

At this time of the year home educators begin to think about annual assessments. Some state laws (including Washington’s) set that as a requirement to access a “second opinion” regarding your children’s academic progress. Keep in mind that this annual assessment does not look at other factors that you believe to be important.  (See www.AllAboutLearningPress.com for their graphic: Important things that tests can’t measure…)

Unlocking Learning Potential offers a number of options for getting

that “second opinion” via video conferencing:

1. Non-Test Assessment (one of the options given in the Washington State law, but helpful for any parent).  Read about this assessment.
2. Brain Training Assessment – some parents choose this assessment if a child has learning challenges. Using the neurodevelopmenal approach our learning specialist assesses the child and then designs an Individualized Neurodevelopmental Plan which the parent may do at home. Additionally, they may choose to add ongoing support with our Brain Trainer.  If a parent is not sure, they can choose the non-test assessment and then within a month may do an upgrade at a discount.
3. NEW – online assessments available as of February 1, 2017 – Structure of Intellect Assessment. Following the Assessment a Training Module(paper) with CD is compiled for the student. This would be an excellent follow on to the Brain Training Assessment.  

Schedule a Free 30 Minute Consultation via Video Conferencing
to help you decide which option is best for you.
maggie@centerforneurodevelopment.com
Use code: MC1-2017

Introducing: Structure of Intellect

Background and History of Structure of Intellect

  • Dr. J. P. Guilford – During WWII given the task of determining why 35% of Air Corp pilot training candidates who were healthy and had an IQ of 120 or more were washing out.
  • Guilford used a set of job descriptions for pilots, navigators and bombardiers to construct a test.
  • Then he compared the scores of successful trainees with unsuccessful trainees. He kept those test items that were consistent with the outcome and threw out the rest. This new test was a better predictor of success.
  • The attrition rate dropped below 10%.
  • Dr. Mary Meeker and Dr. Robert Meeker have taken this “work place” model and developed an educational SOI.
Structure of Intellect Model –a different way to look at and measure intelligence.

Combination of Three Main Areas = 24 Learning Abilities
I.  Three Hemispheric (Dimensions) Learning Styles – Right, Left and Mid- sides of the brain.
A. Figural – concrete; can touch, see, and hear directly. (right)
B.  Symbolic – abstract; shorthand for concrete. (mid hemisphere)
C.   SeMantic —  concepts and ideas. (left)
II. 5 Ways of Thinking – (ReCognition, Memory, Evaluation, Convergent and Divergent Production)
III. 6 Units of Information (Units, Classes, Relations, Systems, Transformations, Implications)

Each ability takes one of each of the three main areas – using  a letter from each – get a subtest and an ability – MFU.

How does this differ from achievement tests?
  • Achievement tests – lack of success without a cause.
  • In medicine: Taking a temperature fever, but without a cause.
  • “A diagnostic-type test (blood panel) leads to a treatment plan (in medicine).”The SOI test is like a blood panel. Measures:
  • 24 abilities that relate to basic learning.
  • Analyzed and interpreted in light of the learning problems … leads to a treatment plan.”
  • SOI uses Training Modules (paper & / or CD).
  • p. 37 Inservice Manual
  • www.soisystems.com

Personal Reflections – 2017 – 9 – What happens when Monet, Copernicus, Newton, Bunyan, Boyle and Mozart to come to visit?

copernicus-1998

Our students learned about different historical figures through reading biographies.  Also, they gained public speaking / acting skills. You probably notice that we had a broad range of ages, 7th – 12th, in our learning center during those years. It is great to know that biographies are available at different reading levels so each student could work on his own level and participate with the class.  Some students could have a low reading level, but still presented well in class.

Summer Enrichment and Remediation Through Family Academy Online and Center for Neuro Development

 

  • Want to use the summer for great benefit and also provide a change of pace for your child?
  • Want to have a Teacher Consultant to help you plan and be available throughout the school year?
  • Want to see if there are underlying learning challenges that affect the way your child learns?

Family Academy Online Offers

Scientific Learning’s

Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant

One parent who has had their children in the program since February, 2013 reports, “My child has taken off with reading.” Another likes the option of having a child work a little more independently with the assurance that the time is spent productively. Even a mom whose son just began in September is thrilled with progress just a few weeks into the program. Another student scored 4 months higher in his first 6 weeks of using Fast ForWord.

Scientific Learning’s Fast ForWord develops and strengthens memory, attention, processing rate, and sequencing – the cognitive skills essential for reading. By strengthening these skills, we see improvement in a wide range of critical thinking and reading skills such as phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, decoding working memory, syntax, grammar, and other skills necessary to learn how to read or to become a better reader. In over 250 studies, research indicates that learners can see achievement gains of 1-2 years in as little as 8-12 weeks. While Fast ForWord is a literacy based program, studies that monitor progress confirm that it also improves other areas because Fast ForWord teaches one how to learn. Fast ForWord is definitely based on the now, well accepted concept of neuroplasticity that extends throughout life. Interactive activities of this program follow the important concepts of short, frequent, intense (i.e. full focus) that distinguish neuroplasticity. Fast ForWord is a learning accelerator with recommended protocols of 30 – 50 minutes 5 times a week (ideally the daily sessions are spread throughout the day in 10-15 minutes sessions.) More recent studies state that children can even make progress with a 3 day protocol.

Scientific Learning’s Reading Assistant which improves reading fluency and comprehension. Once a student has progressed far enough in the Fast ForWord products, we have the option of moving them into Reading Assistant for one or more ten week session. Our next Fast ForWord / Reading Assistant session begins June 22, 2015. Those interested should contact us as soon as possible to get on the list.

 

FA-Online-Logo-w-tagWEB

We also provide online Family Support or Brain Training. Family Support provides assessments for all of the children who are enrolled in Family Academy Online and consultation throughout the enrolled period. Our Family Academy Online Teacher Consultant will help the parent plan the school year and meet periodically. Our Brain Training option begins with an assessment and then the student and parent have frequent video conferencing (some time with student and some time with parent to help with brain training at home). For example our Neurodevelopmentalist / brain trainer meets with the family two times a week for 30 minutes. As a part of the Assessment / Brain Training path, families may choose online programs such as Fast ForWord, Reading Assistant, Samonas Sound Therapy, Hear Builder and Spelling Vocabulary City. Our neurodevelopmentalist will use parent observations and the assessment to work with the parent to customize the optimal program for the child. These options have less rigid start times.

To learn more follow the Family Academy Online tab to the Getting Started tab on www.centerforneurodevelopment.com. Steps will include free information in video seminars and articles. Finally, the parent submits a client history form and schedules a 30 minute free phone or Skype consultation to get questions answered and to discuss the different options.

Unlocking Learning Potential
Customized solutions to learning challenges.

Questions? Call Maggie Dail 253.581.1588 or email at mdail@familyacademy.org

For more information about the products and services visit:  www.scilearncom

www.familyacademy.org

 

Homeschool Annual Testing: Important Considerations for Parents

CFND Pencils Logo

FA-Online-Logo-w-tagWEB

          Home educators must consider important questions regarding the issue of academic testing. Ask and answer these questions as you prepare to assess your child’s progress.

Why should I have my child assessed or tested?

One very practical reason is that your state law may specify that you must. Whether or not the state is overstepping its authority with such a law is a question for another time. Knowing the homeschool law in your state is only the first step in this consideration. For some their state law requires some sort of testing annually and some state require testing at only certain grade levels, every two or three years. Some state laws specify which tests, types of tests and who can administer the test.

Besides the law, having your child assessed or tested can provide a third party evaluation of the progress your child is making. I do recognize that parents know their child much better than any other person, regardless of the training of either the parent or the test administrator. However, we may have a blind spot regarding some areas. Test results can provide direction and encouragement. To maximize the information you receive you should interview the test administrator to learn if that individual will provide the information that you need or want from the process. The test administrator may also be able to answer other questions regarding educating your child.

Another reason to have your child assessed is to prepare a child for future testing for college or for obtaining a job. When done on an annual basis, a child is more likely to take in stride any of the normal “butterflies in the stomach” he may experience.

What kind of test / assessment should we use?

Again, refer to your state law to determine what types of tests or assessments will fulfil the law. You may decide that what you need is a different assessment tool so you may choose to do one to comply with the state and another to gather the information you require.

There are two general types of test that would usually be used for an annual assessment. First, consider a standardized, normed test. Test makers standardize the way the test is administrated so that when they use an average sample group of test takers, they can compare your child’s scores with the scores with the “norming group.” These are often more objective than the second type. Second, there are non-test assessments. In the state of Washington, the non-test assessment is not defined, but the one administering it must be a certified teacher currently working in the field of education. Your state may define this second choice more specifically. In Washington, teachers who administer non-test assessments may use a variety of tools and / or may evaluate student work in the different subjects. Your interview will help you find an administrator and an assessment right for your child. Most children feel less stress with the non-test assessment and you may be isolating what your child knows from learning how well your child tests. On the other hand, some children feel like they are on the spot during a one on one assessment and prefer the anonymity of the standardized test.

It is possible that your child will benefit from diagnostic testing – to find holes in learning or testing to determine if there is a learning difficulty.

What questions should I ask as I interview a test administrator? Here are some to get you started:

  1. Where do you administer tests? (You may rule some out based on how close you live and if you are willing to make the trip for the times and frequency required.)
  2. What tests do you administer?
  3. What kind of results will I get?
  4. When will I get the results?
  5. Will I need to stay on the premises during the testing?
  6. Or, may I sit in during the assessment?
  7. How long will the test take?
  8. What are your qualifications for administering this test / assessment?
  9. How long have you been testing?
  10. How much does the testing cost?
  11. Based on this information (what you provide) which test would you recommend for my child?
  12. If a group test, how many will be in the testing?

For information regarding homeschooling testing and other matters, contact the Home School Legal Defense Association: www.hslda.org They provide information regarding the homeschool laws in all 50 states as well as state wide homeschool organizations. It is a great first website to learn about homeschooling. For Washington State residents, find test providers on www.washhomeschool.org (look under homeschooling, the law, annual testing, and list).

One way to help prepare your child for standardized testing is to use workbooks that are designed to provide practice. When using these, set aside a time when you can provide a testing-like atmosphere to give your child a good idea of what to expect.

While you are your child’s best teacher, do not ignore the help that others can provide in your educational program. Center for Neurodevelopment (Unlocking Learning Potential) / Family Academy Online (Supporting Family-Directed Education by Training the Teachers), offer assessments via video conferencing. http://www.centerforneurodevelopment.com http://www.familyacademy.org (look under parents tab)

A Book Review – God’s Design for Life – The Animal Kingdom by Debbie and Richard Lawerence

Image

Debbie and Richard Lawrence prepared this book, The Animal Kingdom, as a part of the God’s Design for Life for elementary aged homeschooling children. Answers in Genesis published this series.

Authors, the Lawrence family, prepared 34 lessons covering topics such as Vertebrates and Invertebrates; Mammals and Marsupials; Reptiles and Amphibians; Birds and Fish; Insects of all kinds as well large and small animals.

Each lesson has these sections: Supply List, What Did I Learn? and Taking it Further. Throughout the book the student creates an Animal Kingdom Notebook including charts and other observational records and activities for the different classes of animals. Some lessons have other features: Fun Facts, Word Searches, art or other hands-on activities.   Also, every few lessons they provide cumulative tests with answers in Appendix A.

According to Fry’s Readability, the book is written on a middle school level. Since the scientific terms have many syllables, many upper elementary students could read it on their own and it could be used as a read aloud to younger students.

In addition to the master supply list in an appendix the authors introduce the study of life science and how to deal with creationism vs. evolution. This series makes it easy for a homeschooling parent to cover important areas of life science with hands-on activities to stimulate the natural desire to learn.

 

New and Continuing Learning Accelorators Through Family Academy Online

Last December, we announced that Family Academy Online planned to offer Scientific Learning’s Fast ForWord this year. Well, we did that in February. We are currently in our 4th ten week session. Thirteen different students have participated for one or more sessions.   

 


One parent who has had their children in the program since February reports, “My child has taken off with reading.” Another likes the option of having a child work a little more independently with the assurance that the time is spent productively. Even a mom whose son just began in September is thrilled with progress just a few weeks into the program. 

Scientific Learning’s Fast ForWord develops and strengthens memory, attention, processing rate, and sequencing – the cognitive skills essential for reading. By strengthening these skills, we see improvement in a wide range of critical thinking and reading skills such as phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, decoding working memory, syntax, grammar, and other skills necessary to learn how to read or to become a better reader. In over 250 studies, research indicates that learners can see achievement gains of 1-2 years in as little as 8-12 weeks. While Fast ForWord is a literacy based program, studies that monitor progress confirm that it also improves other areas because Fast ForWord teaches one how to learn. Fast ForWord is definitely based on the now, well accepted concept of neuroplasticity that extends throughout life. Interactive activities of this program follow the important concepts of short, frequent, intense (i.e. full focus) that distinguish neuroplasticity. Fast ForWord is a learning accelerator with recommended protocols of 30 – 50 minutes 5 times a week (ideally the daily sessions are spread throughout the day in 10-15 minutes sessions.)

Now in November, we are adding Scientific Learning’s Reading Assistant which improves reading fluency and comprehension. Once a student has progressed far enough in the Fast ForWord products, we have the option of moving them into Reading Assistant for one or more ten week session. Our next Fast ForWord / Reading Assistant session begins November 18. Those interested should contact us as soon as possible to get on the list.

We also provide online Brain Training. This option begins with an assessment and then the student and parent have frequent video conferencing (some time with student and some time with parent to help with brain training at home). For example our neurodevelopmentalist meets with the family two times a week for 30 minutes. Further assessment occurs as the ND guides the parents in observations at home, allowing the ND to build an individualized neurodevelopmental plan in concert with the parent at a pace that fits the family’s schedule. \

To learn more follow the Family Academy Online tab to the Getting Started tab on www.centerforneurodevelopment.com. Steps will include free information in video seminars and articles. Finally, the parent submits a client history form and schedules a 30 minute free phone or Skype consultation to get questions answered and to discuss the different options.

Questions?  Call Maggie Dail 253.581.1588 or email at mdail@familyacademy.org. For more information about the products visit:  www.scilearn.com