State testing is nothing to get worked up about. It really has very little importance. It is just one more thing the government wants us to do. So, in Pennsylvania, we have to have our kids take a standarized achievement test in 3rd grade, 5th grade and 8th grade.
There are quite a few tests to choose from, so how do you know which one you should have your child do? Well, I say that depends on your child. My oldest child had taken the Iowa Basics test at each of the three required grade levels, my middle child took the WRAT in 3rd grade, which is no longer an acceptable test to the state, the CAT test in 5th grade and the Iowa Basics test in 8th grade, and my youngest just had his first testing and he took the PIAT test.
The CAT and the Iowa Basics are written tests where the students read problems/questions and color in the circle of the answer among the multiple choice possibilities. The PIAT, which is similar to what the WRAT test was, is an oral exam, where someone administers the questions to the student by showing them questions, sentences, pictures and asks a question and the student has to orally answer the question or choose the correct answer from 4 visual options.
The written tests can be challenging and can cover most of your school subjects. The verbal PIAT test simply covers: general knowledge, reading comprehension, spelling, vocabulary and math.
For students who are not good test takers or who fear test taking, I suggest the PIAT. For students who work well with paper and pencil and who are comfortable with test-taking, I suggest one of the written tests. The three tests I mention in this post are the only ones that I am familiar with. I find all of the tests quite useless as I know what my child(ren) are learning, what their strong subjects are and what the subjects are that they need a little more work on because I watch them daily as they do their lessons in our home. The test may help pinpoint some weaker areas, and that's about all the good they are. I certainly am not the kind of mom who feels the need to put my children through these ridiculous tests more than the state requires, but I know some who have their child(ren) take them yearly, which I see as a lack of confidence in their own judgement and teaching ability.
If you are an involved homeschool parent, you know your child(ren) better than anyone else because you spend the most time with them, so if you are happy and pleased with their abilities and progress, don't worry so much and don't stress yourself out, and don't put too much stock in these achievement tests. More often than not, homeschoolers test well above their peers on all the tests they take.