Minnesota’s Yearly Testing Requirement
In Minnesota, homeschoolers have a yearly testing requirement that can be somewhat frustrating and confusing the first couple times through it. Here is what you need to know. The specific statute relating to testing is Minn. Stat. 120A.22, subd. 11, which states that children ages 7-16 not enrolled in public school must be assessed yearly using a “nationally norm-referenced standardized achievement examination.”
You must report on your yearly Letter of Intent to the superintendent (and they must agree to) which test you are planning to use each year, who will administer the exam and where the exam will take place. Results and your receipt for any testing expenses you incur should be kept as your proof of having tested. You do NOT, however, need to report the results of those tests to your district. The testing results are for your information only. (If a child tests “below the 30th percentile or one full grade level below performance level expected for other children of the same age,” parents are required to pursue further testing and evaluation to assess for learning difficulties. The statute does not go on to state a course of action that must be taken beyond that.)
What Test Should I Use?
One of the most frustrating parts of testing can be figuring out which test to use and how to access testing. Tests are deemed acceptable at the district superintendent’s discretion and so they can vary from district to district. Some of the more common tests that many districts accept are as follows:
- Paper, Fill in the Bubble-Style tests: Iowa Basic Skills Tests (IBST and ITED), California Achievement Test (CAT)–also known as Terra Nova and the Stanford Achievement Test (SAT–though not to be confused with the SAT college entrance exam)
- Oral, Interview-Style tests: Peabody and Woodcock-Johnson
- Online test: California Achievement Test (CAT)
Each of these tests has various features that will help you decide which is best for your family. Here are some things to consider:
- Does your child do well with timed tests or do they perform better without being under time pressure?
- What sorts of things do you hope to learn from testing? Do you simply want to fulfill the requirement in the easiest way? Or are there particular areas you are concerned about monitoring with your students?
- Would your child prefer a paper-style test environment to a conversational one-on-one meeting with a tester?
- How much time, energy and money do you have to invest in testing?
We have developed a document which highlights the major features of each test, along with some resources to get you started in learning more and determining which test is right for you and your family. Please keep in mind that these are just some of the more common tests that many districts will accept, but there are also other tests besides these available that some districts may accept. If none of these options seem right and you learn of something else that you think fits the bill, you should contact your superintendent and ask if they will accept it. Also, if you write one test on your Letter of Intent and change your mind at some point during the year, you are allowed to change it–you just need to call your superintendent’s office and have them update the information on your form.