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Frequently Asked Home School Questions - Nationally Standardized Achievement Tests

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Any exceptions to the annual testing requirement?

No.  North Carolina's law addressing the annual nationally standardized testing of non-public school students (both home and conventional) makes no exceptions for any reason.

Are older normed nationally standardized achievement tests acceptable?

Yes. provided scoring is still available for them.

Are student test score records shared with DNPE considered public records under North Carolina law?

No.  Click on G.S. 115C-174.13, 564, 549 and 557 to read more.

How do I know a test meets North Carolina legal criteria:

The North Carolina home school testing law requires that the test satisfy three criteria.  The test must be nationally standardized (reports scores as national percentiles, stanines and/or grade equivalents and compares student test results to a national norm); be an achievement test (one measuring subject knowledge); and, cover at least the subject areas of English grammar, reading, spelling and mathematics. 

How does one obtain a school code number for students registering for a college entrance/placement test?

They must be obtained directly from the test publisher. 

Contact either the ACT or the College Board organization to obtain them, depending on which test is chosen.  Usually they assign a specific code number just for home schooled students.  It is normally given within their test registration instructions. 

Must my child be tested again even though he/she took a nationally standardized achievement test earlier this school year while enrolled in a conventional (public or private) school?

Yes.  The legal requirement for your home school is that its students be tested annually while enrolled in your home school.  In this case, the testing was done before the student was enrolled in your home school.

Must my other child also be tested (when I test my currently home schooled child) after I take that other child out of a conventional school during the current school year and begin home schooling him/her?

That other child would have to then be tested before one year from the date he/she first officially enrolled in your home school.  That other child would then need to be re-tested annually each year thereafter.

Required for 5/6 year olds?

All students enrolled in an open home school listed with DNPE must be tested annually. If a home school only has 5 and/or 6 year old student(s), then the student(s) does not have to be tested. Once the student(s) turns 7 years old, the school should be listed with DNPE and have a national standardized test administer within 12 months of listing the school with DNPE.

Required for 16/17 year olds?

Yes. as long as the student is currently enrolled in the home school (does not yet possess a high school diploma) or if the student wishes to obtain/retain his/her North Carolina driver's permit/license while under age 18. 

Required for special needs children?

Yes.  The home school law (unlike public school law) does not allow for exemptions from the annual testing requirement. 

However, the law does permit, for example, the administering of a 2nd grade level test to a 13 year old who is functioning academically at the 2nd grade level.  Note that the science and social studies sections of the test are recommended but are not required by statute

In addition, North Carolina home school law does not mandate that the student achieve a certain minimum score on the nationally standardized test in order for the parent/guardian to be legally permitted to continue to home school that student during the following (or any future) school year. 

Non-reader test editions are permitted and are available.

Seven year olds -- How soon must they be tested?

Before the child reaches his/her 8th birthday and then again once within each 12 month period thereafter.  The testing requirement is based on the student's age -- not on his/her grade level. 

What is meant by "basic battery, "complete battery" and "survey"?

These are terms you will encounter when ordering your annual nationally standardized achievement tests. 

The "basic battery" tests only the basic subjects of language arts (which usually includes English grammar, reading, spelling) and math.  The "complete battery" includes all the "basic battery" named subjects plus science and social studies. 

The "survey" is simply a shorter version of the "complete battery."  The "survey" was developed in recent years primarily to test students with short attention spans or learning disabilities.  North Carolina home school statutes require that each student be tested annually in at least the subjects of English grammar, reading, spelling and mathematics. 

For a typical grade 4-12 student, DNPE recommends the "complete battery" for a more comprehensive assessment of the student's subject knowledge, rather than the "survey." 

However, both are legally acceptable.

What is the difference between grade equivalent scores, percentiles and stanines?

These three terms are used in reporting and analyzing results from nationally standardized achievement tests taken by students.  These tests compare students with their national age peers. 

A student does not "pass" or "fail" them.  The grade equivalent score indicates a student's performance relative to the average performance of students at a given grade level. 

For example, a student who obtains a grade equivalent score (GE) of 7.3 indicates that he/she has achieved at the third month of the seventh grade level in that subject.  Percentiles (not percentages) are used to compare the student with his/her age/grade level peers on a scale of 0 to 100. 

For most students, percentiles usually range from 40-60 (the average range).  The stanine is a normalized standard score scale consisting of nine units with a mean of five and a standard deviation of two. 

Nine is very high; five is average; and, one is very low.

When to administer and order them?

State law requires that they be administered annually.  No exceptions are allowed for any reason. 

Once the home school has filed its Notice of Intent with DNPE, the student(s) must be administered the test within the first twelve months of DNPE's initial receipt of your Notice of Intent (date shown on your orange colored Notice of Intent acknowledgment card) and then once during each of the following consecutive twelve month periods. 

For more valid comparison purposes, it is recommended that the student(s) be tested each successive year during that same month and during the same week of that month. 

Most North Carolina home school parents have their student's test administered each year between March 1 and April 15 and place the order for it with the testing company about February 1 each year.

Who pays the financial cost of the annual testing of my child? 

The parent/guardian who serves as the chief administrator of the home school pays for it.  There are no government (state or federal) or private funding sources available to pay any part of its cost.

Will the ACT, PSAT/NMSQT and SAT college entrance/preparation tests satisfy North Carolina's annual home school testing requirement?

The ACT and SAT Subject (formerly the SAT II) tests are each legally acceptable; however, the PSAT/NMSQT and the SAT Reasoning (formerly the SAT I) tests are legally unacceptable. 

As explained in the answer to the fifth question in this document, there are three criteria that each test must meet in order to legally qualify under North Carolina home school law.  All of these college entrance tests are nationally standardized tests.  The ACT and the SAT Subject (formerly the SAT II) tests both measure student achievement in at least the subject areas of language arts and math. 

Since these two tests satisfy all three of the North Carolina home school test criteria, they may be used by home schools for students functioning at any grade level (preferably high school).  Both the PSAT/NMSQT and the SAT Reasoning (formerly the SAT I) tests, however, are designed to measure student aptitude (reasoning skills) rather than student achievement. 

Therefore, the PSAT/NMSQT and SAT Reasoning tests do not satisfy all three criteria and cannot legally qualify under North Carolina home school law.  Home schools choosing to use either the PSAT/NMSQT or only the SAT Reasoning test will need to also have the students take a nationally standardized achievement test in order to satisfy North Carolina's annual home school testing law. 

If the home school requires its students to take the SAT Reasoning test, DNPE recommends that the SAT Subject test then also be taken within the same school year in order to comply with North Carolina's annual home school testing law.  The PSAT/NMSQT, the SAT Reasoning and the SAT Subject tests are all produced by the same test organization. 

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