Academic Achievement Testing

Academic Achievement Testing - Marji McIlvaine - Masters Mark Academics

Woodcock-Johnson IV

The Woodcock-Johnson IV (WJ) is a verbal-interactive achievement test which is nationally normed as required by the state of NC to fulfill the state homeschool law.

Marji has been administering the WJ since 2005 in NC plus several other states (TN, GA, FL, SC). She is a homeschool mom of six graduates, has a BA from the University of Florida (Spanish), and graduate credits in testing and assessment from East Carolina University. She also has administered the Iowa Test of Basic Skills and the California Achievement Test to groups of students, but now focuses on the WJ. Trained by Deb Erbach Burger and the late Wendy Coleman, Marji brings the insights offered by this particular testing process to the family of the student, insights which were nurtured and curated by Deb and Wendy, and which have grown with experience.

These years of raising her own children (two with dyslexia), teaching homeschooled students, studying testing and assessments, and working with many families through testing, has taught her via experience and study to observe and analyze what is being revealed through the testing process. Marji has worked with many students from the academically gifted to those who struggle with many kinds of learning differences. She has resources to offer parents and students to equip the students to work toward success and overcoming any academic difficulties.

She has been a speaker at the state homeschool conference for about ten years, often speaking about testing to help equip families to understand the different kinds of achievement tests available and make the best choice for their own families.

Please contact Marji to set up a testing appointment. We can arrange a phone call if you would like to discuss and ask questions.

These cover a lot of territory – here are some brief answers.

a) You are hiring someone to come test your child/ren individually. That person has invested thousands of dollars in the materials, and has been studying and gaining proficiency in understanding what the process reveals and the results indicate.

b) It is mostly untimed, so — depending on the age and personality of child, it takes about 1-2 hours.

c) There are no multiple-choice answers, so the student has to come up with a response independently. This eliminates “good guessing” from those students who “almost” know the answer and can guess from the choices.

d) Another big difference is the individual academic consultation after the testing is finished. I do an academic consult afterwards, go over my observations, any recommendations, observed learning modalities and brain dominance signals. This is usually at least half an hour, but can go longer.

I can often tell parents specifics such as — she seems to be having trouble with the tens column, or division with zeros, or the final consonant sounds, or apostrophe placement, or she gives up when she doesn’t know it immediately, etc. …. you can receive very specific feedback on what hasn’t been mastered.

e) The results of the WJ have a different meaning than the bubble-in tests.

The grade level results are much more diagnostic with the WJ than the bubble-in tests because they were written differently. (Bubble-in = CAT, Iowa, Terra Nova, Stanford, etc).

On the bubble-ins, if your 3rd-grader scores 11th grade reading comp, it means he comprehended like an 11th-Grader would on a 3rd grade test. It does *not* mean he is reading at an 11th grade level.

On the Woodcock, it would mean he genuinely comprehended 11th grade material. It is a wide-range achievement test. This makes it a very useful tool in determining actual grade level, and helping guide curriculum and homeschooling method choices.

The WJ goes from preK to grade 12, and actually post high school. It works with pre-readers as well as advanced students.

In NC, it must be once annually. However, I strongly recommend that parents who are transitioning from traditional to homeschooling test their students before starting to homeschool. This gives you a baseline picture of academic achievement, which grades in school often do not reflect.

Too many times I have tested a child after a first year of homeschooling, and the child has had lower results than expected. More than once has this caused the mom grief and even tears during the consult. But – if the child was not tested to get that baseline – there is no way to determine if the child actually gained two years or lost ground. And conversely, when a parent does have the child tested before beginning, I very commonly hear, “How can he be so low in math? He was getting all A’s?” Therefore, I strongly encourage parents to get that baseline score. The WJ will give the most effective general academic picture.


To be effective, you should have the WJ administered by someone who works with and tests homeschoolers. There are stand-alone businesses who aren’t connected to homeschooling and use it very differently, with no applied consult. Every test administrator works a little differently, so ask friends for the pros and cons they have experienced.


Prices range dramatically, depending on where you live. To get comparable value, be sure you know which subtests are included in the basic standard price. For instance, my basic standard price for 11-12 subtests is $90, which includes three oral language subtests. Most testers charge quite a bit more for this grouping.

Contact Marji About Academic Achievement Testing