Another Standardized Test in the Bag

By , April 12, 2010

Saturday we hiked to town far earlier than we care to, in order to get Aly to the high school to take the ACT college entrance exam. She’d been preparing for a couple of months, and entered the test room with high confidence and expectations.

Of course, Haines is a small town. She took the test with one other student! The school counselor says they never get more than two for each session. She knows the boy she took the test with, and the small group probably helped her focus on the test.

When we got back together in the afternoon, Aly was all smiles. She felt like she did very well, which will help buoy her spirits until we can get the results, in as much as eight weeks.

Entrance exams are critical for her as an unschooler; they represent the best available objective assessment of her education. As her “graders,” we try to be objective, often to the point of being a bit hard on her, but we have to assume that someone somewhere will doubt our honesty in the matter. Good scores on the ACT and SAT will help document her education better than we can.

She’s already passed the Alaska High School Qualifying Exam and its optional science component, and scored well on the PSAT. That and her recent acceptance to a summer program at the University of Alaska are important for Michelle and me, too. As products of traditional, public education, that paradigm keeps us anxious about self-directed learning. It will take a long time for us to be fully convinced that we’ve done the right thing. The stakes are simply too high to be complacent about it.

But, days like Saturday remind us that her education is in good hands—her own!

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