Springtime Sheltering at STS

Thoughts from our Managing Editor and new Homeschool Administrator Traci Johnson.

Hello STS customers and friends:

Like many of you, STS employees are sheltering in place at home with our families while we deal with the Covid-19 virus. In my case, I’m an editor and a brand new homeschool administrator for a 6, 11, and 15 year old.  Here are a few of the things that are helping me juggle work and school right now.

  • Create a brand new schedule. I am 4 weeks into the work/school juggling act. In the beginning I had a grand ideas of the kids waking up at seven-thirty and being done with their work by noon. All that got me was three grumpy kids. So we adjusted. My kids have their weekend bedtimes unless they have an early meeting with a teacher.  We also allow them to linger in their pjs in the morning.  They are much happier and it gives me time to focus (alone) on my work in the morning.
  • Create some accountability (and make it fun).  Our district has an online grading system where parents can view grades and assignments. I also have my kids keep an informal log of what they did each day. If they make it through the week without me hounding them about assignments, they get a reward. My kids like Chipotle and Starbucks so they get to place an order weekly.
  • Go outside. We live in the Chicago area and last week was our first 80 degree day. I told my 6 year old to read outside and then she spent the rest of the day happily playing in the yard.  All of us walk, ride a bike or ride a scooter outdoors every day. Because we’re stuck inside most of the time, that outside time has become a welcome release.
  • Find some help online. My older kids have regimented school assignments and meeting times, but my little one has tons of free time. Finding websites that offer her something to do has been a godsend. Attractions like the Shedd Aquarium offer virtual tours. My daughter has also done virtual safaris with the Cincinnati zoo. Some zoos even offer live feeding sessions on Facebook. Scholastic.com also has free learning resources for all grade levels that include books and videos.
  • Have fun. The Corona virus is awful and sheltering in place is not how any of us planned to spend the spring. But I’ve found that it is important to plan some fun for your family. We’ve done movie nights, game nights, lip sync challenges, formal dinners. Anything to break up the monotony of quarantine. We don’t do this every day – parents are not camp counselors and kids do want some alone time. But we will never spend this much time together again so we want our kids to have some good memories of this tough time.
  • It’s OK if you’re struggling. Actor Drew Barrymore said on the Today show that Corona parenting is not good days and bad days. It’s good hours and bad hours. That rang true for me. This is hard. Kids get bored. Parents and teachers are stretched thin. We’re all new at this quarantine thing. Last week my youngest daughter had movie day and watched Trolls all afternoon. Every day will not be equally productive.

So while the world is a lot quieter these days, all of us at STS are working hard at home. Call us if you need us. We’re still answering the phones and happy to assist you however we can.

Traci Johnson
Managing Editor
Scholastic Testing Service, Inc.

We invite feedback or sharing of your own ideas and experiences on this topic.

Homeschool FAQs

At STS we are aware of the need for testing products for the Home School market. Read below to see answers to some of the questions that are most frequently asked by homeschool instructors.

  • I know that the government requires school districts to test students in Reading and Mathematics. But how do I assess my child in other areas like Science and Social Studies?

STS offers testing for homeschoolers in kindergarten through grade 12 with our comprehensive Educational Development Series (EDSeries). The EDSeries offers subtests in Reading, Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies. Home School teachers can decide whether to assess students in all subtests or selected subtests.

  • As a home school parent, I want my children to have the best education they can. How do I know if they know what they should for their grade level? What can I do to help them if they are struggling?

Consider using the QUIC tests from STS. The QUIC tests were designed to offer a snapshot of a student’s competency in math or communicative arts in 35 minutes or less. At the end of testing, a raw score can be converted to a standard score, which reveals if the student is performing at, above or below grade level. The QUIC is available for grades 2-12.

For younger students, STS offers diagnostic assessments in mathematics and reading. The Diagnostic Mathematics Assessment (grades 1-3) was designed to measure student strengths and weaknesses in five mathematics subtests. The assessment comes with an Instructional Strategies Manual that offers a detailed wrong response analysis and lists strategies to improve skills that students may be struggling with.

The Diagnostic Reading Assessment (grades 1-2) was created to test readiness for second grade reading instruction. Like the Diagnostic Mathematics Assessment, an Instructional Strategies Manual is offered with wrong response analysis and features exercises and suggestions to improve mastery of reading/language arts skills.

  • Many times I can find tests, but I cannot buy them or use them because I’m a homeschool teacher. How can I qualify to purchase tests for my students?

STS’ recognizes homeschoolers as educators who are qualified to purchase tests. Our Test User Qualification Form allows homeschoolers to use their state certificate or district certification as acceptable credentials for test purchase. This form must be filled out for all first time purchases. Our form is available in our annual catalog or online.

  • Many of the tests available to homeschoolers are twenty years old. How can I find up to date assessments for my students?

STS offers homeschoolers access to many of the same testing products that we provide to schools. We are constantly upgrading our test content so that most of our tests are less than ten years old.

  • Should I pay attention to state and national standards? How do I know that the tests measure what is required?

As a testing company, we pay close attention to changes in state and national testing standards to insure that our products are aligned with contemporary requirements. Homeschoolers in the state of Illinois should consider our Illinois Learning Standards Battery (ILSB) because the ILSB is the only Illinois assessment built specifically around the Illinois Learning Standards. For homeschoolers outside the state of Illinois we offer the Educational Development Series (EDSeries) battery. We are currently in the process of aligning the EDSeries battery to the new nationwide Common Core Standards, which will go into effect in most states within the next few years.

Homeschool instructors can monitor the Common Core Standards adoption process at www.corestandards.org.

  • How can I test my children for kindergarten and first grade readiness?

For preschoolers, STS offers the Kindergarten Readiness Test (KRT). The KRT assesses students in six areas to determine if they are ready for kindergarten instruction. STS also offers the School Readiness Test to assess kindergartners for first grade readiness. Both of these assessments are available for use to homeschool instructors.

If you have any other questions about STS’ homeschool testing products, please contact customer service at sts@ststesting.com.

Kindergarten Readiness

It’s never too early to start thinking about your preschooler’s kindergarten readiness. What teachers want to see on the first day of school are children who are healthy, mature, capable and eager to learn. Keep in mind that not all children are ready for school at the same time. Social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development are all important factors to consider in determining kindergarten readiness.

The following skills from STS’s Kindergarten Readiness Inventory – Parent Edition will help parents evaluate their child’s overall pattern of development and readiness. Remember that children change quite fast – if they can’t do something this week, they may be able to do it a few weeks later. Recheck this list often to see what additional skills your child can accomplish.

Readiness Skills

  • Vocabulary – the ability to comprehend and recognize common sight words is a prerequisite skill for reading instruction.
  • Identifying Letters – knowledge of lower-case letters is a prerequisite skill for word recognition.
  • Visual Discrimination – the ability to determine differences between objects or symbols by sight is a skill necessary for identifying letters, numerals and geometric designs.
  • Phonemic Awareness – the ability to hear and manipulate the sounds in spoken words is essential to learning to read.
  • Comprehension and Interpretation – understanding a text that is read aloud, extracting useful information and constructing a meaning is necessary for oral comprehension and interpretation skills.
  • Mathematical Knowledge – knowledge of number meaning, recognition and numerical order.

Parents who are interested in home screening their child for kindergarten readiness should order the Kindergarten Readiness Inventory – Parent Edition at our secure online store or contact customer service at 1-800-642-6787 or sts@ststesting.com for further information.
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NurtureShock – Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

Should parenting come naturally for most of us who are in the thick of it? Your instincts may be telling you that love and support is all that is needed to help your child succeed. You may also want to consider a different, research based perspective on this topic. Authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman discuss their parenting research on their NutureShock blog.

The blog also features a new Newsweek article exploring the science of creativity. Visit this link to read more and participate in their creativity tasks partly inspired by the STS’ Torrance® Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT).

To explore more about “the father of creativity”, visit this link E. Paul Torrance at STS’ dedicated Torrance website.

Kindergarten Readiness Inventory (KRI)

As parents and school districts gear up for spring kindergarten screening, we’ve received lots of requests from parents to purchase the STS Kindergarten Readiness Test (KRT). Since, the KRT is only available for school use, we’ve developed a new inventory of items just for parents. Our Kindergarten Readiness Inventory – Parent Edition, provides a brief overview of what children should know and be able to do at the beginning of kindergarten. The inventory covers the same subjects as the KRT including: vocabulary, identifying letters, visual discrimination, phonemic awareness, comprehension and interpretation, and mathematical knowledge.  Our inventory also requires only about 20 minutes to administer, and can be quickly scored with the instructions in the manual.  The Kindergarten Readiness Inventory will give parents information about their child’s ability in specific, academic areas which contrasts with the more general developmental information given by preschool screenings.  Parents should consider the Kindergarten Readiness Inventory – Parent Edition as a tool to be used in combination with preschool screening results and other indicators to help decide if their child is prepared for kindergarten or not.

Select this link to purchase the Kindergarten Readiness Inventory – Parent Edition from our online store. To get more information about this test, please contact customer service at 1.800.642.6787 or via email at sts@ststesting.com.

Scholastic Testing Service, Inc. Announces Parent Resources

Here at STS we realize that parents are always looking for resources to encourage their child’s academic growth and spark creativity. To that end, we recommend the following products.

Kindergarten Readiness Inventory (KRI) Parent Edition – this new product was modeled after our longstanding Kindergarten and School Readiness Tests to allow parents to assess their child’s kindergarten readiness at home.

Learning Mathematics Creatively – this three part series offers creative ways to address difficult mathematics concepts like solving word problems, using place value, and mastering primes, fractions and decimals.

Tin Man Press Products – this ingenious series of “creativity boosters” provides workbooks and activity cards with a range of art, writing and problem solving exercises. Perfect for parents looking for learning activities to use during school breaks and summer vacation.