Topic | Standardized testing and SATs

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  • 7blessings

    I am so intriqued with this method of home educating!! We have graduated three children from high school and they are now in college yet we still have four to go and I’m looking for something different. Something refreshing and full of vitality with the hope of instilling a love of learning into the children. I’m not convinced that a traditional method of education is the best as we have used Bob Jones faithfully and yet my older children scored below average on the SATs. School around here has become dry and boring. I am looking for feedback concerning standardized test scores when using the CM method of education. I am aware that grading isn’t a priority with this method but the fact is I am required to test my children each year to fulfill our state requirements and SAT scores are important when a student applies to college. Can anyone that can speak to this issue? I thank you in advance for taking the time to do so.


    7blessings, I certainly can’t promise you anything. But I can share my kids’ history. We’ve homeschooled all along except for a couple of months when my oldest was five and I caved in to pressure and put him in kindergarten for a couple months. I began using Sonlight and classical methods with him and by third grade was using mostly CM methods. My two younger students have always done CM methods.

    In my experience (we have to test every year, as well) my students test very well. The only exception for us has been for some language arts issues in the early years–for example, punctuation and spelling and a few other things, before fourth grade. They sometimes had “middling” scores in those things. Not terrible, just not great, either. But something happens at about fifth grade or so. Something just “clicks” I don’t know if it is that the copywork is beginning to click, or that we’ve been doing dictation for a year or so by then, or that we’ve begun some simple grammar, or just brain maturity and exposure to many, many living books by then. But something clicks, and they are fine after that.

    I think that CM methods prepare the students VERY well for the portions of standardized testing that involve reading a selection and then getting something out of it–my kids are whizbang at that stuff. Narration has done great things!

    My kids haven’t yet taken college boards, but at least the ACT is pretty similar IMO to the usual standardized tests taken before. I didn’t think myself that it was drastically different.

    One thing I’ve learned is to not panic and to trust the CM methods. I’ve sometimes had a tizzy over writing, for example. All my friends’ kids were writing nice dumb little essays long before I was getting anything meaningful out of my son, and I occasionally panicked and bought some fix-all curriculum, then remembered what I was trying to do and soldiered on. And it worked. It all came together. Whipping up a CM education isn’t really like making a dump casserole–throw all the ingredients in and heat and voila, you have a finished product. It’s more like making soup. 🙂 (hmm, I must be hungry) You start with the finest–make your own broth, it seems like a little work and a shortcut must be better. But you remember it’s not. Then you begin adding ingredients, but it isn’t a finished soup yet. You keep tasting and adding ingredients, and then the flavors start blending and all of a sudden you realize you have soup. 🙂 It might have taken a bit longer to all come together than if you’d opened a can, but the final product is so much better you don’t care. 🙂

    Maybe I’d better go have a snack. LOL

    Michelle D



    I did not see that you posted the same question here as well as with the New Here thread. I responded there and I will copy my post here again, not because I want a lot of attention, but because I want to encourage you! I love Michelle’s soup analogy! She is so right! Anyway, here goes the copy:

    We have one college student thus far and so I can only tell you our experience up to this point. I continue to strive to be teachable, and with seven more to go, I am leaning on the Lord for wisdom!

    The fact is, testing is a state requirement and that is how we have approached it. We do not have children cramming for standardized tests; we simply tell them that the purpose of the test is to fulfill the law and it gives us a good picture of where they are gifted and where we may choose to bolster their knowledge. We have the same philosophy regarding SATs: leaning on the Lord.

    As the children are brought up to love learning, are raised with prayer, and are fed an abundantly liberal education, they naturally bend toward their God-given talents. In that regard, SATs become another confirmation as to where they should be heading anyway.

    Knowing God equips in spite of us fallable parents gives such peace and we are able to give big pushes where the child is gifted and little nudges where they struggle. Another encouragement I have had is, because of the type of education the children are receiving, we are often surprised by how much they actually do know that was perhaps not taught (that is the lifestyle part). Since they are learning to think and make connections, they can figure out the answers; indeed it is often obvious to them. And now that I think back, I can honestly say that those subjects where we struggled to maintain a ‘textbook’ state of mind (think math) are the ones where the children scored lowest. They flourished in all others.




    Thank you for your reply. I’m convinced that God is leading us into a different approach in regards to the education of our children. It is rather scary to think about something so different from the traditional method we’ve been using for years. I’m taking the Christmas break to read the Laying Down of Rails book and to pray. What math program do you use for your kiddos?

    Merry Christmas


    Ummm, I’m not a good one to ask about math. I know a lot of CM families us Math U See. We started with Saxon years ago and have kept up with it for a couple of reasons. One is the fact that I had collected enough texts that it was not financially feasible to just get rid of them. The other is that we have eight children and the time involved in preparing lessons for Saxon is zero. I have strived (striven?:) ) to use Saxon in a CM fashion by having children teach me what they have learned, shortening the amount of work they do, doing lots of oral problems and asking for proofs with manipulatives for some of the problems. I am seriously considering using SCM’s Business Math (see their homepage) for my 5th grader as a project spread out over the last half of this year, though. I think it would add some delight to his ‘math minutes,’ as he calls them.

    Hope your Christmas was a blessing,



    I’m enjoying the wonderful encouragement you’ve received so far! I thought I’d answer your math question. For the elementary years, I love Mastering Mathematics. In fact, I used it to “remediate” some older dc who got behind due to many crises in the past few years and my failure to keep up with what they were (or weren’t!) doing! It is technically for grades 1-6, although you could stretch it to the middle school years depending on whether higher math is essential by 9th grade or not (for us it’s not). Letz Farmer developed this for dc who are easily distracted–there is no color and no problems on the facing pages. There are also rarely more than 20 problems per page. For the most part, if the children can read at a 2nd grade level, they can pretty much do it on their own. If you buy the whole kit, you get cardstock manipulatives to use for games and reinforcement.

    The concept is to go all the way through addition, then subtraction, then multiplication, etc. She does have alternate “routing” for those who must take standardized tests and whose homeschooling depends on the results. I have to say that it has been the best of several curriculums we’ve tried. (Bob Jones, A Beka, Saxon, Math-U-See, Miquon, Developmental Math).

    There is a possibility my 16 yodd might do a little pre-algebra, and I’m seriously considering Teaching Textbook for her. It seems a bit pricey, but very thorough, and since I have 6 more coming behind her 🙂 it will pay for itself!!

    Mastering Mathematics can be found at

    Hope that helps!


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