Parents who are required to provide standardized testing for their children while homeschooling often wonder whether they should utilize the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) or the Stanford test. As with most things, there are pros and cons to using either of the tests.
One of the first considerations is usually timing for each of the tests. Both the ITBS and the Stanford tests have “timed” testing guidelines. The Stanford is technically untimed even though they include timing recommendations for their tests. The timing helps with large groups if some students work very slowly, but timing is not required for the Stanford-10. Conversely, the ITBS must be administered within guidelines for timing.
One of the aspects I like about the Stanford is their published accommodations guidelines. If you’d like to see what standard accommodations are permitted under a NORMAL administration for the Stanford Achievement Test, please refer to their accommodations document: http://www.pearsonassessments.com/hai/images/PDF/6942-Accom_SAT10_Supp1_v2.pdf. Using their guidelines helps a lot if you are testing a child who may need some of the listed accommodations. I have been unable to find any documentation whatsoever for utilizing accommodations for students with disabilities at the ITBS site (http://www.riversidepublishing.com/products/itbs/index.html), so their choice to ignore the needs of those with disabilities makes me less inclined to recommend their standardized testing.
As a drawback, the Stanford has a restriction against testing your own child without ALSO testing with at least two unrelated children. “Testers administering Stanford tests to children who are related to them or children who reside in their immediate household are required to include two or more unrelated children in each testing group” (http://www.bjupress.com/testing/terms-conditions.php). The ITBS can be administered directly to your own kids without additional children, as per the published testing guidelines. Thus, if you use the Stanford, you would either have to go with the group testing or invite a couple of families to test with your child in your home.
Personally, I have used both tests, testing in each of the different formats/groupings. I have used the ITBS at home with just my kids and with other kids. I’ve also tested using the Stanford in a large group in a church classroom and at my home with a few additional children. In each case, whichever test it was, it all worked well for us, but the Stanford large group testing was the least viable for my kids’ needs. With the larger group, while things went well with the vast majority of testing, there were those couple of incidents that I believe affected all of the kids being tested at the time.
As far as the tests themselves go, I liked the flow of the ITBS better than the Stanford. I also preferred being able to complete each section at flexible times when my kids were physiologically ready for testing (they had good night’s sleep, were up and ready, no illness, no stress, etc.). If you use the Stanford and have others set to come over for testing, then you pretty much have to test when scheduled rather than when your kids are up and ready to test. With ITBS, we tested when we got ready each day, without feeling stressed or having the excitement of others coming to test.
The timed aspect of the ITBS can be an issue if your child has a slow processing or reading speed. I much prefer the untimed aspect of the Stanford, but I dislike their group testing requirement. If your child is prone to day dreaming, works very slowly, or likely to get “stuck,” then the ITBS timing could be more of an issue than testing WITH other people. For children who are highly distractable, testing in the group environment can be more of an issue, particularly with young children. While some parents want their children to get accustomed to testing in groups, I think there is PLENTY of opportunity to test with groups through the PSAT and high school level testing of other types (AP testing, testing in any classes they may take, etc.), which will prepare the kids for group testing for the ACT or SAT. Thus, for any child in elementary or middle school, I’d probably opt for the ITBS unless timing was a significant issue. For all other children, I would go with the Stanford.
Lastly, in regard to administration at home, you have to be careful to establish an interference-free testing environment. Turn off all of the ringers on the phones, put a note on your front door for anyone NOT to ring or knock.. Leave a notepad out there (if they want to leave a note) and ask them to quietly leave due to testing. Also, if you have any dogs, it’s a good idea to tend to them before testing so they will be crated and as far away from the testing location as possible so any sudden event won’t cause a lot of barking and interference (we had that one year!!).
In the end, I think the ITBS and Stanford both have their pluses and minuses, so a parent does best to weigh the options in relation to your individual child’s personal needs. Hope that helps!