Do you test them?
Does the state require you to test them?
(Followed by: Do you have to do a state curriculum? Testing implied there.)
How do you know they're learning [if you don't test]?
They're going to have to test sooner or later.
How are you going to prepare them?
In my memory is a catalog of snippets from classes and topics on which I tested. The only stuff that "stuck" were skills I practiced (typing) or subjects that fascinated me anyway. Even so, I would probably fail a test of the minutiae: the year of this, the marriage of those, the definition of that.
I went through college algebra and trigonometry, studying way more than the average student (hours in the help labs every week) and earning high B's / low A's. Ten years later, considering graduate school, I opened a GRE test guide and drew blanks on even the basics of those subjects.
Once... I knew them or thought I knew them. I will be relearning those subjects or steering my own children toward critical thinking, economics and basic statistics. Higher math is awe inspiring, but so are most subjects in their advanced levels. That does not make them necessary for all.
Testing only proved my short term memory was adequate.
We test because it's the only way to get a person/child to temporarily memorize what is considered essential. Threaten them with a test. This will dictate whether a student gets to move on to more tests of other subjects or is forced to keep reviewing and "testing out" of a subject.
Tests don't measure whether he/she can use the information in different situations or whether it is understood well enough to be taught to another. Just memorize, get through this, and move on to the next test.
Coincidentally, a couple articles in my weekend reading volley responses at this testing mania:
(i.e. creativity and innovation trump memorization)
A Tenth Grader Explains: Testing is not Learning
I added this link two days after the original post. Here's why:
"In 1885, German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus coined the term “learning curve.” He conducted research on memory and memorization and described his findings regarding both the learning curve, or rate at which knowledge is gained, and the forgetting curve, a related graph that measures how quickly memorized information is lost....
"The forgetting curve, however, has been largely ignored, yet the ways in which we forget are highly instructive... much of our forgetting occurs immediately after acquiring knowledge...
"In Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense, best-selling author David Guterson recounts a classroom experiment he often practiced when he was a teacher. He’d prepare his students for a test on Friday, and then he’d spring the exact same test on them the following Monday. None of his students ever matched their initial test score." (emphasis added)