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Writing a letter to your confirmation candidate

It seems that one of the biggest events in confirmation preparation in this country is the letters of support to be given to the confirmation candidates during their mandatory retreats.

I have three such letters saved on this blog:

Confirmation letter to my daughterConfirmation letter to my fourth sonConfirmation letter to to my third son
I've asked my children what they remember about the letter they got from me and their dad, and also what they remembered about the letters they received. 
The answer was not much, or at least nothing specific. In general they were happy to have gotten a bag full of letters and there was a sense of feeling loved and supported. I guess that's the main thing - for them to have a sense that this is an important step in their spiritual growth, and that people they know, love and respect have taken the time out of their lives to let them know that! So here are some tips on procuring and writing letters for young confirmation candidates. Start thinkin…

Standardized Testing for Ohio Homeschoolers


With spring just around the corner, homeschoolers are starting to think about getting their annual student assessments done. 

In Ohio, we have the choice to give our students standardized tests or have a portfolio of work evaluated by a licensed teacher. Either the test results or the academic assessment report needs to be turned in when notifications are sent to the superintendent for the next school year. For many years my family used the portfolio evaluations. The kids enjoyed putting a portfolio together and I enjoyed the input from our assessor. 

However, last year I decided to give Rosie a standardized test. She is doing very well academically and I wanted to see how she measured up to national standards. It was also just easier for me to test her last year and probably this year because of Rosie's busy spring schedule. 

Since Rosie is probably college-bound, she will also need some skills and experience in test-taking during the high school years. Giving her tests in jr. high is a good way to prepare her for the bigger tests to come. (ACT, PSAT and SAT)


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There are a few things to keep in mind when deciding to go the testing route. 

  • You can choose any test as long as it is a nationally normed standardized achievement test. Parents can administer the test as long as the publisher authorizes it. 
  • The test can also be administered by an Ohio licensed or certified teacher.  
  • Once the test is taken and the parents have the result, the composite score must be sent to the superintendent during notification. 
  • That composite score must be at least in the 25th percentile. 

There are a number of tests that qualify for homeschoolers.  One of the most well known is the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. (ITBS) 

    The publishers of the Iowa publishers grind my gears with their insistence that the administrators of their tests have a Bachelor's degree in arts or science.  They don't even particularly care what the degree is in. Apparently, unless you have a 4-year-degree you will be unable or unwilling to follow the complicated directions to administer their tests. 

    To give a little perspective that means that Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates would not be allowed to administer these tests to their own children because they don't have degrees. I find that insulting and just plain inappropriate for this time when people are questioning the value of a college degree for making a living in the 21st century.  

    However, if you have the qualifications you can register as a tester to get verified and give the test to your own children. 


    It costs between $25 and $40 depending on the grade level. It's a paper and pencil test. It takes about six hours over a few days to get the testing done. It is also only available in the fall and in the spring. Be sure to allow time for the results to be returned to you. 

    The Stanford Achievement Test is available online.  You can get it through Seton. Abeka  or Brewer Testing.   It runs around $35 to $40.  Even though it is online you need to schedule it in advance. Results are not instant either. 

    I opted to give the California Achievement Test (CAT) through Academic Excellence.  It's totally online, the results are instant AND it's only $25. We used it last year and I was completely happy with it and I'm using it again this year. Academic Excellence also gives the option of taking the CAT timed or untimed, which can be a real blessing for children who need a little extra support in their testing. At $25 you could do both if the child or parent doesn't feel great about their timed scores the first time. 

    I also appreciated the information I received with the scores. I received the raw score, the grade equivalent and the stanine score for each test topic. They also gave the composite score at the end of the report. It was very easy to send this in with my assessment. 

    Regardless of what test you choose, be sure to schedule ample time to complete the testing - certainly well before it's time to send in fall notification. 




    EOS Test 27
    Ando LoPresto via Flickr, licensed cc.

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