Hi! I’m Ellen Crain, founder of Affordable Homeschool Testing Services LLC. Thanks for checking out our website! Choosing a company to help assess your kids is personal, and it’s easier to trust people you know something about, so here’s a little more about me.
What Homeschooling Looks Like at Our House
My husband and I have been homeschooling our own kids since we failed to put our firstborn on the school bus to kindergarten back in 2006. My goal as a homeschool mom is to support my kids as they acquire the skills they need to be successful in the world as adults, while also giving them an awesome childhood. When my kids were small we played games, went on field trips and did lots of projects— mummified chickens, kitchen science, and posters for the county fair. Now we have a mix of formal curricula, child-led learning, co-op classes, academic clubs, and 4-H.
Why We Homeschool
Initially, we had a couple motivations for homeschooling. First, when my husband and I looked back at our own childhoods, the things we learned best were not learned in school. We wanted to maximize our kids’ opportunities to explore topics of interest and have lots of hands-on learning opportunities. Second, we wanted to decouple learning and socializing. In school, everyone knows who is doing well and who is not, and it can be tough on kids at either end of the bell curve. In homeschooling, kids don’t expect everyone to learn the same things at the same time, so there’s no jealousy of the 4-year-old who is reading fluently or judgment of the 8-year-old who isn’t (at least among the kids—sometimes parents struggle).
Now we homeschool because we love the lifestyle. We have the freedom to learn at our own pace and schedule, and my kids own their learning in a way I never did as a grades-obsessed public-school kid. More than anything, I love seeing how close my kids are to each other.
Why I Started a Testing Service
My husband and I met in college, in engineering school. I like math, my husband likes math, and our kids liked math too when they were small. We cycled through a range of math curricula and approaches, like lots of homeschoolers do, and we tested annually with a local homeschool tester as insurance that we were making progress. The results of the test told me that my kids were doing fine. Then at age 9, my oldest was invited to take a different test at a local public school. His results from the up-to-date test were much lower than what we had been getting from the homeschool testing we had been doing. It was a terrible shock to me—our approach wasn’t working, and he wasn’t doing fine. I had been lulled into a false sense of security by the old out-of-date test we had been using.
I don’t want that to happen to you.
Researching the tests available to homeschoolers, I was shocked to see how old and out-of-date they were. I reached out to Northwest Evaluation AssociationTM (NWEA®) and they agreed to work with me to make their industry-leading MAP® GrowthTM assessments available to homeschool families. NWEA is a research-based, not-for-profit organization that is passionate about using assessments to improve education for all kids, and their tests are designed to precisely measure student growth and performance. Because it’s adaptive, MAP Growth fits kids who are working at different grade levels for different skills or who are being taught with non-traditional approaches. NWEA is constantly analyzing and improving their products to make them more reliable, more useful for educators, and more kid-friendly.