In Michigan we are not required to have any sort of follow up or testing by our state to see how our children are doing with school. I have mixed feelings about this. For me, I kind of wish there was some checks and balances system so that I knew I had my kids going in the right direction and I knew what they needed to work on. However, I also understand that if we were given a set of subjects that we HAD to teach each year (such as particulars in science or history), it would not afford us as many freedoms as we would like as the teacher. For example, I happen to know that 4th graders in Michigan study light and magnets for science. We chose not to study these topics this year and rather have studied the Animal Kingdom. In my opinion the order a child studies certain subjects like science and history is not as important as whether or not they study it by a certain age.
Subjects like math, reading, spelling and writing I wish there was a checks and balances and some "testing" so that I knew where my child is fitting with the average child of that age. We have the option of paying for independent testing but I did not feel this first year it was as necessary as it will be next year. However, I did find a FREE website that will test your child on their phonics and reading comprehension skills. If you check out the test at Test 4 Free your child can take a test that will take about 10 minutes to assess these two skills. In my humble opinion I think it is fairly accurate as well. Our 1st grader has been "advanced" when it comes to reading since midway through school last year and at the end of the test I discovered that her independent reading level is actually that of a 3rd grader, while her instructional level is that of a 4th grader. I knew she was advanced, but I didn't realize quite how much. Now, my 4th grader has always been a slower reader and her test said she was below average for her phonics and average for her reading comprehension. She tested at 4th grade for her independent reading and 5th for her instructional level.
So, if you are interested in where your kids are falling, but do not want to, or can't pay for testing, check out Test 4 Free.