Annual Assessments for Homeschoolers

CFND Pencils LogoBy Maggie Dail, Learning Specialist


Many homeschooling parents begin to think about the annual assessments for their children at this time of the year. In around 20 states these tests are required by their homeschool laws. Washington State is one of those and allows for two types – standardized and non-test assessments.


  • Standardized tests – While some are administered in online formats, they have traditionally been administered by having the student fill in the bubbles on an answer sheet. They are then normed and standardized meaning that they tell you how your child compares to a representative 99 others. Further, they are to be administered according to set rules and times.
  • Non-test Assessments – In the Washington State homeschool law these are not defined per se, but they are to be administered by a certified teacher currently working in the field of education.  Since the assessments are not defined, qualified test administrators use a variety of measures – some more subjective and others more objective.


Whether your state requires annual assessments or not, you can gain valuable information from these experiences. Other than “the homeschool law requires assessments” these may prompt you to have your children tested:

  • Assess a starting point in your homeschooling (given before you begin or early on).   Using the same instrument of assessment before and after provides comparable scores.
  • Assess whether the curriculum, learning styles or methods you are using are helping your child learn.
  • Provide preparation for your child to take college entrance tests in the future.
  • Provide objectives or ideas for study for the next year, semester or month.
  • Provides a “third party” assessment of the academic process
  • Identifies areas that the child may need some additional help.


Unlocking Learning Potential provides non-test assessments for homeschoolers in any state via video conferencing:


Non-Test Assessment – NTA (qualifies for WA State homeschoolers)


  • PIAT-R (Peabody Individual Achievement Test-Revised) Given orally – General Information, Reading Recognition, Reading Comprehension, Math, and Spelling.
  • Optional – evaluation of a one-page writing sample – corrected with criteria that you receive along with an instructional lesson for one area of concern.
  • Neurodevelopmental Screening (auditory and visual processing; dominance).
  • A brief consultation with parents.
  • NTA Report.
  • Fulfills requirement for annual homeschool assessment in Washington State.
  • Standard Price – $60.00
  • Optional: Writing Sample Assessment – $25.00
  • Optional: Learning Style Analysis – $25.00
  • Especially good for younger students and those who have a difficulty in taking tests.
  • Time: About 1 ½ hour for the student and time with the parent to discuss results and answer questions.


In addition, diagnostic assessments are available using KeyMath.


KeyMath-R serves as a supplement to the Brain Training Assessment or Non-Test Assessment or as a stand-alone diagnostic math test for pre-high school skills. Success for high school math depends on a good foundation.  Cost: $60.00 Time: About 1 ½ to 2 hours.


If especially interested in assessing math, but want this to be the annual assessment, spelling and reading can be added.


Should you suspect a learning challenge, the annual assessment could be turned into a:


Brain Training Assessment – BTA


Includes all of the Non-Test Assessment, plus with parent completed forms, the Learning Specialist designs an Individualized Neurodevelopmental Plan (list of activities to stimulate the brain to encourage development) to complete at home with our support.  Cost: $150


Depending on the results of the NTA or the BTA and the goals of the parents, families may be offered access to one or more of our professional accounts with Scientific Learning’s Fast ForWord or Reading Assistant, HearBuilder and Sensory Enrichment Therapy.  Also, parents may choose to add Brain Training as ongoing support provided via video conferencing.


Another option for determining abilities that need to be developed Unlocking Learning Potential provides Structure of Intellect online assessment, training modules, and support.


Structure of Intellect Assessment (SOI)


Dr. J.P. Guilford designed an assessment that decreased the attrition rate of dropouts out of pilots during WWII. Drs.  Mary and Robert Meeker further developed this model of assessing and training different learning abilities.


Assessment Cost: $150.00

Training Materials and Support: $100.00


For more information regarding our services:


We are currently scheduling through the end of June.

Reviewing Two Childhood Lessons – Memory and Rewards

1967 - 2016

1967 and 2016

By Maggie Dail

Some Background

In third grade, I failed penmanship and arithmetic. Apparently, the teacher told us that I had passed third grade by the skin of my teeth. Looking over my report cards reveals comments such as, “If Margaret would try she would get better grades.” In seventh grade at the DOD school in Madrid, Spain I was given the choice of moving to class D and get a “C” on my report card or stay in class C and get a “D”. Given my father’s value of high grades, I chose Class D. All of this was before 1975 when Special Education became a legislated part of the public school system. Since my perceptions of these memories indicate that I was trying, I likely would receive special education services if I were in school today.

At church, during high school, I was encouraged to memorize Scriptures to improve academics. So, I began to memorize long passages of Scripture, reciting them at church and at church camps. Also, during high school, my dad offered me $1.00 per “A” I earned on my report card. By the time I was a senior, I was on the High Honor Roll with all “A’s”. My first year of college was a challenge, getting a “D” at mid-term in Psychology. However, by my senior year, I was again able to get all “A’s”. I believe I was still probably working harder for those “A’s” than other students, but I was achieving better grades. Decades later, I want to review these lessons in light of what I have learned about how we learn.

Lesson #1: Memorizing Scriptures Develops Cognitive Skill

Yes, the old adage, “use it or lose it” applies here. When you exercise your brain it develops. Scientific Learning’s motto, “Fit Brains Work Better” reveals how this principle works. According to the neurodevelopmental approach, “Duration, Frequency, and Intensity” present three important ideas. Short, frequent, focused review of whatever is to be learned, locks into one’s brain. Today, I tell my students to put spelling words, vocabulary words, math facts or formulas, memory verses on cards. If they go through these cards between subjects, several times a day, they will learn it. Some need to review longer to get the desired results, but they will learn. Sometimes parents must give the input using these cards. Do all of my students follow my advice? No, I am afraid that it is a hard sell, but I am not going to quit telling them to do it. While this works for anything, when one memorizes Scripture you get an added benefit: Psalm 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Lesson #2 – External Rewards Encourage Learning

As a teacher, I would always prefer that students have internal motivation to learn – “for the love of learning.” It would be great for students to be diligent in their studies in order to please God. We can continue to pray and trust God for this. It happens sometimes, but often external rewards are necessary. It may be something as simple as, “Great job!” or a high five or a sticker on a chart. Twenty-first-century students would normally not be motivated by $1.00 per “A” on a report card as I was in the 60s. While a monetary reward may not be the best, it certainly works on the job for adults.

After reviewing these childhood lessons, I see that I need to remember to apply these in my life even today as I continue to learn.

Maggie Dail (Learning Specialist) operates Unlocking Learning Potential from her home in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Maggie’s husband, Ronnie (Manager) and Laura Barnes (Brain Trainer) round out the team. ULP offers online services to homeschooling families. Maggie earned an Special Education from Adams State University in 1989 and certification with the International Christian Association of Neurodevelopmentalists in 2007.

Check out this video to see how we can help.

Personal Reflections 2017 – # 19 – How did the online part of Family Academy Online and Unlocking Learning Potential begin?

Online Student

Prior to 2004, the Jiles family lived in Olympia, Washington. They drove to Lakewood, Washington to attend Academy Northwest classes at our learning center. Then the dad’s work took them to Georgia. There they met the Robinson family.  I worked with the Jiles family and Tim Robinson. Later the Jiles moved to Spokane and the Robinson family moved to Texas. I continued to work with them via long distance and these students graduated.  Also around that time, Ariel from New Jersey worked with me and graduated early from ANW.  She has gone on for graduate work. I never met Tim and Ariel in person. Our use of the internet and the phone was problematic, but we were able to get the job done. Further, my learning center students in Lakewood posted assignments and responded in a closed Yahoo group.

Much has happened since that time. For one thing, we access virtually (no pun intended) all of our students online. Thankfully, our access to the internet is exceptional by comparison.  Video conferencing provides a great video and audio experience with minimal problems most of the time.  We can access many of these services for free or at least a minimal charge.  Some do cost more. For that reason, our students can access one or more of the following as appropriate:, Scientific Learning’s Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant,, Structure of Intellect assessments, and G-Suite for Education.  I would rate simultaneous correction of writing assignments on Google Drive as my newest favorite tool.

Scientific Learning – Learning Accelerators

Scientific Learning’s Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant

Teach students to:

  • Distinguish sounds in words
  • Focus on reading content
  • Follow directions
  • Engage in class
  • Understand what they read
  • Read fluently

    More Info and Registration (click below):

Scientific Learning’s Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant

Info About All Of Our Services (click below):

        Unlocking Learning Potential – Getting Started

Dyslexia, ADHD or APD? Answers Based on Research

Unlocking Learning Potential

Have you been frustrated by trying to find the cause of your child’s learning struggles? Do you suspect that it could be Dyslexia or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) or auditory processing disorder (APD)? I frequently hear from parents how difficult it is to get the right diagnosis and treatment for their child, especially when many learning or attention issues can look very similar.

What I’ve found is that many children exhibit symptoms similar to these:

  • Being easily distracted
  • Not engaging in class
  • Not following directions
  • Reversals
  • Slow, labored reading


CFND Keys Logo

Customized solutions to learning challenges.

Teachers and parents may feel like their children are not trying, not paying attention, or being disruptive when in fact what’s happening is that they try to pay attention but can’t follow what’s being said and eventually give up. These children may also receive a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD or APD or even Dyslexia but fail to see progress.

If your child exhibits any of these difficulties, we can help you address the underlying causes for these learning struggles. We offer Scientific Learning’s online products (Fast ForWord, Reading Assistant) at a low cost. Also, we offer personal online Brain Training Assessments and Brain Training.

Contact me with questions at:

Maggie Dail, MA

Learning Specialist

ICAN Certified Neurodevelopmentalist

More Info and Registration (click below):

Scientific Learning’s Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant

Info About All Of Our Services (click below):

Unlocking Learning Potential – Getting Started

Info from Scientific Learning

APD Whitepaper

Recognizing and Treating Children with Central Auditory Processing Disorders

Whitepaper by Maxine Young

This whitepaper is always a popular resource when we promote it. This is a great one to keep in your office or to email out in response to the email included above. This has also been added to the resources page.

APD/Fast ForWord® Research

Summary: After Fast ForWord use, children with language learning impairment (LLI) showed improved language skills and changes in patterns of neural activity that indicate “a change in cognitive control strategies.” This is consistent with other recent neuroscience studies on children with and without LLI (Stevens et al., 2008) and children with dyslexia (Temple et al., 2003). All of these studies suggest that the improved language and literacy performance seen after Fast ForWord use may result from better application of attentional and memory resources.

Summary: The authors concluded that measures of brain wave efficiency are not only correlated with auditory processing problems in children with language-based learning disabilities, but that the Fast ForWord Language program improves at least one measure of the brain wave efficiency and that is in turn correlated with improvements both in rapid auditory processing accuracy and also language skills.

Summary: After Fast ForWord use, the authors noted significant changes indicating plasticity in the auditory brainstem’s neural activity to speech stimuli.

Dyslexia Research: See The Difference

Amanda Miller’s Success Story:

The Stanford Study

Developmental dyslexia, characterized by unexplained difficulty in reading, is associated with behavioral deficits in phonological processing. The results of this study suggest that a partial remediation of language-processing deficits, resulting in improved reading, ameliorates disrupted function in brain regions associated with phonological processing and produces additional compensatory activation in other brain regions.

The Harvard Study

This study showed effective remediation with the children with developmental dyslexia, and that disrupted brain responsiveness to rapid auditory transitions of non-verbal sounds may be a risk factor for developmental dyslexia. Effective remediation through Fast ForWord® can foster neural plasticity that enhances brain responsiveness to rapid auditory transitions as well as improves language and reading skills.

This is great research from highly reputable institutions, but they’re a bit heavy on the scientific/technical side of things. Here is some more user friendly information:  Read this


Summer Enrichment and Remediation Through Family Academy Online and Center for Neuro Development


  • Want to use the summer for great benefit and also provide a change of pace for your child?
  • Want to have a Teacher Consultant to help you plan and be available throughout the school year?
  • Want to see if there are underlying learning challenges that affect the way your child learns?

Family Academy Online Offers

Scientific Learning’s

Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant

One parent who has had their children in the program since February, 2013 reports, “My child has taken off with reading.” Another likes the option of having a child work a little more independently with the assurance that the time is spent productively. Even a mom whose son just began in September is thrilled with progress just a few weeks into the program. Another student scored 4 months higher in his first 6 weeks of using Fast ForWord.

Scientific Learning’s Fast ForWord develops and strengthens memory, attention, processing rate, and sequencing – the cognitive skills essential for reading. By strengthening these skills, we see improvement in a wide range of critical thinking and reading skills such as phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, decoding working memory, syntax, grammar, and other skills necessary to learn how to read or to become a better reader. In over 250 studies, research indicates that learners can see achievement gains of 1-2 years in as little as 8-12 weeks. While Fast ForWord is a literacy based program, studies that monitor progress confirm that it also improves other areas because Fast ForWord teaches one how to learn. Fast ForWord is definitely based on the now, well accepted concept of neuroplasticity that extends throughout life. Interactive activities of this program follow the important concepts of short, frequent, intense (i.e. full focus) that distinguish neuroplasticity. Fast ForWord is a learning accelerator with recommended protocols of 30 – 50 minutes 5 times a week (ideally the daily sessions are spread throughout the day in 10-15 minutes sessions.) More recent studies state that children can even make progress with a 3 day protocol.

Scientific Learning’s Reading Assistant which improves reading fluency and comprehension. Once a student has progressed far enough in the Fast ForWord products, we have the option of moving them into Reading Assistant for one or more ten week session. Our next Fast ForWord / Reading Assistant session begins June 22, 2015. Those interested should contact us as soon as possible to get on the list.



We also provide online Family Support or Brain Training. Family Support provides assessments for all of the children who are enrolled in Family Academy Online and consultation throughout the enrolled period. Our Family Academy Online Teacher Consultant will help the parent plan the school year and meet periodically. Our Brain Training option begins with an assessment and then the student and parent have frequent video conferencing (some time with student and some time with parent to help with brain training at home). For example our Neurodevelopmentalist / brain trainer meets with the family two times a week for 30 minutes. As a part of the Assessment / Brain Training path, families may choose online programs such as Fast ForWord, Reading Assistant, Samonas Sound Therapy, Hear Builder and Spelling Vocabulary City. Our neurodevelopmentalist will use parent observations and the assessment to work with the parent to customize the optimal program for the child. These options have less rigid start times.

To learn more follow the Family Academy Online tab to the Getting Started tab on Steps will include free information in video seminars and articles. Finally, the parent submits a client history form and schedules a 30 minute free phone or Skype consultation to get questions answered and to discuss the different options.

Unlocking Learning Potential
Customized solutions to learning challenges.

Questions? Call Maggie Dail 253.581.1588 or email at

For more information about the products and services visit:  www.scilearncom


Homeschool Testing Season and Other Happenings at Center for Neuro Development

While I administer tests all year around, most of my families test between April and June. These months are especially busy around our home office and beyond. Some families have been a part of my schedule for over 20 years. Others have come for the first time this year. Many families have used my non-test assessment as a jumping off point to other tests – CAT, SAT and ITBS which I also administer. At the same time some families enjoy having younger children do the non-test assessment in my office, while older ones do the CAT in another room.

This testing season coincides with the end of the school year for Academy Northwest, an accredited private school with an extension program for homeschoolers – truly a blend between private school and independent homeschooling. This means grades, graduation and other activities. I began working with Family Academy / Academy Northwest in 1994. I continue to enjoy this affiliation to this day and am making plans for the new school year beginning in September!

In 2003, I began another affiliation with the International Christian Association of Neurodevelopmentalists, receiving certification in 2007. Using the neurodevelopmental approach I help families overcome learning struggles. By discovering the underlying missing pieces in development, parents can learn activities that will stimulate brain development. Evaluations and brain training serve to help families achieve academic progress.

For several years, we have used technology to deliver products and services to our families. ( During the last year we have increased the use of technology and are workng with Family Academy / Academy Northwest to help families with “Family Directed Education.” This is an ongoing process of development, but here are ways that we can help you now:

Family Academy’s Able to Teach – Parent Training Course delivered online.

Alpha Omega’s Ignitia (formerly Switched On Online) online curriculum for grades 4-12 .

Scientific Learning’s Fast ForWord – A Learning Accelerator with over 250 studies show that students advance 1-2 years in 8-12 weeks. We enroll students for 10 week sessions 5 times a year.

Online Spanish – (Choice of Ignitia, Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur for daily work; Spanish in 10 Minutes A Day for weekly conversation classes of up to 5 students)

Online Economics / Composition –Students read books (Uncle Eric / Politically Incorrect – Austrian Model) and post assignments on a Coursesites class – including writing -working on their own level from paragraphs to essays or position papers.

Family Support, Brain Training, Evaluations and Non-Test Assessments are also available online. If you have any questions about any of these options, singly or in combination, or for services offered by my colleagues, contact us at: or We can make an appointment to discuss in detail your questions.