Friday, May 25, 2012

Final Exam Results

Now that the tests have been administered and graded, I thought I would share some of the results.  The kids did great and I'm really proud of them.  It's funny, because their test results not only show me how much they have learned, but they also help me know how effective I've been in teaching them.  I feel good about those results this year, too, but only because the kids did so well.

Okay, so first, let's talk about J and O.  They took a similar, verbally-administered final exam, which tested basic skills to get an idea of where they are at in their educational development.  The test included a series of 20 questions or challenges -- some fun, some strictly business.  I tried to include a variety of reading and writing questions, as well as some science and Bible (I know where they're at mathematically and so I limited math testing to a quick check-in on how high they could write their numbers, setting a lower target for O who is exiting first grade, while J is exiting second).

Then to make it more fun, I added a drawing question and a talent portion (basically, this got them up from the table halfway through the test to do something physical before returning for more sitting).  O demonstrated his handstand abilities, while J showed me how much better she's gotten at her backbend/bridge form since starting in dance earlier this year.  Both were impressive.

Here I'm posting their drawing tests for you.  The challenge was for each of them to draw a self-portrait with as many details as they wanted to include.  It's interesting to see the differences between developmental levels, grade levels, boy vs. girl and also, J's particular interest in art compared with O's particular interest in finishing quickly so he can get back to playing outside.

Plus, these make really nice keepsakes for them to share with their own children one day.

Because J and O are so close in age, I'm always questioning our choice to have J start school a little bit earlier, thus keeping the two one grade apart.  But every year, I'm seeing that while J is just where she needs to be in most subject areas, O is just a little behind and therefore, it's perfect to have them a grade apart.  This was clear in where J is at in her reading and writing ability, as well as in other areas, compared with where O is at right now.  He always seems about 10 months to a year behind J and that's fine!  It's just reassuring to know we have them where they should be.

One of my favorite set of answers from their tests are to the question: can you name the three parts of God?  (I was thinking about the Trinity and we've talked about that a lot, so I figured they'd get what I meant.)

J: Father, Son, and Shepherd

O: face, arms, and legs

On the bright side, they both knew the four gospels and where to find them in the Bible; they both knew most of the ten commandments* from memory and what they mean; they both could name several people in the Bible (in addition to God and Jesus, the easy answers); and they both were able to tell me about their favorite Bible story/lesson from the school year and didn't just pick the most recent one we studied.  To me, "three R's" aside, I feel like they're getting a really good foundation in faith and Bible, which will take them far.


Now, on to H and Z.  We have followed My Father's World's Exploring Countries and Cultures this past school year, plus a lot of additional stuff I've packed in with it.  That also means we only made it through half of the curriculum -- including basic globe/map understanding and the Americas and Europe (we'll continue next year with Asia, Australia, Antarctica and Africa).  It's a good way to make a year of curriculum stretch financially for two years, but also, it was a better pace for us.

Their final exam, consisted primarily of geography related terms, questions and maps.  As I mentioned in my previous post, these final exams are not about passing or failing, but rather, to see how much they have retained over the school year from the lessons.

In the beginning of the year, I gave each of them a series of maps and asked them to label whatever they could based on prior knowledge about the world and places in it.  We travel a lot and S already went through the Countries and Cultures curriculum, so I figured they might have picked up some along the way from her.  However, there wasn't a lot they could show for it.  Their pre-tests revealed that H could correctly name only 11 places in the world (nine of these were U.S. states -- all of them spelled incorrectly) and Z could correctly name only four places in the world (three were U.S. states, misspelled).

After doing our unit on the United States early in the year, I tested the boys on their ability to label the U.S. states on a map.  Z threw a big tantrum and never did take his (I gave up trying) and H was able to correctly label 38 states.  That was last October.

So yesterday, I held my breath while testing them, really having no idea how they would do.  To my delight, Z was able to correctly label 86 places in the world (including correctly defining three vocabulary words -- not his strong-suit), while H correctly labeled a whopping 144-1/2 places on the maps (which includes correctly defining 29 vocabulary words)!

H received three 1/2 points for thinking to label three places very close to their correct location, but just slightly off -- normally, I'd just not count them, but the locations were obscure countries that I barely knew existed and there he was, quite nearly putting them in their spot on the European map.  H still labeled 38 states, which seems good to me considering we haven't really gone over the United States map in months -- so that's good retaining of information (and extra studying on the side recently).

In addition to the geography stuff, I quizzed them on the 14 memory verses we tackled this year (please don't quiz me!) and H was able to remember five, while Z was able to remember nine -- word for word!  I love how they are putting Scripture in their hearts and minds to take with them in life.  I'm so proud of them.


S did not have a written exam this year.  S has been an amazing, super-teen helper lately, helping me run our daycare; volunteering at the farm; volunteering at church; completing her application for the School of Ministry (and staying on top of those writing her reference letters); and just being an all-round awesome girl.  I told her that I know she's still working at all her educational stuff as she rolls from 11th to 12th grade, so I figure her actions speak way louder than any exam results could.

She recently received her 7-months of appropriate electronics use dog-tag from her teen support group and we are just so super proud of the way she's been living in the Light and being a light for others.  She has come a very long way since her big adventure last summer.  She is regaining a lot of trust and really working her tail off to prove herself a changed person.  It's been awesome to see the differences in her.


So overall, testing was a big success.  Both H and Z kept telling me throughout the test, "I know I know more than this ... but I feel like I can't think because it's a test!"  So I'm sure there's more in their heads than actually came out on paper (I've seen it when we play geography games, etc. -- and not everything they learned could be written on a map, either).  But the point is, they've improved greatly since the start of the year.  And that means they are listening.  They all are.  Listening and learning.

That means that all this time I'm putting into teaching them hasn't been a big waste.  That's really good news for me.


*I found the best way to teach the kids -- and myself!! -- the ten commandments is a simple little board book called Hand Commands.  (I've added the book to my shelfari widget at the bottom of my blog -- just scroll down.)  It's technically a preschool book, but it has helped the commandments stick in my own brain better than any other method of memorization.  Check it out -- no matter what age you are.


  1. That is wonderful that they have been able to concentrate and learn. When you concider all that they have been through this last year that could distract them. Congratulations to all of you.

    You are doing a good job.

    Love, Mom

  2. Thank you. There have been a lot of distractions over the past year, but we try to keep schooling a constant in our lives -- for all our sakes.

    We're taking a week off and then we'll start our summer studies, which basically keeps them going with math and reading so they don't forget before September.

    Plus, lots and lots of field trips (hopefully)! Most of them to the pool, probably, but still -- P.E.! :)