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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Why won't the public high school take my homeschool credits?


"We are making the decision to homeschool one year at a time." 

Most homeschool parents say this sometime during their journey, and I fully respect this approach.  Sometimes you will homeschool for a only season.   Sometimes one child is at home and the another in public school. 

With this said, I have to caution homeschool parents before taking the "one year at a time" approach once you get to high school. Switching from homeschooling to public school in High School is a very different than elementary and middle school.

I will never discourage someone to homeschool. Now more than ever I believe that this was the right choice for our family, but high school is a different commitment than middle school.

SHOULD I HOMESCHOOL MY HIGH SCHOOLER?

Do you want to? Then yes!!!

I am and we are loving it! My boys are developing many of the independent study skills they will need to be successful in college and eventually the work place.  They are learning how to manage their own schedules and find answers when they have a problem.  

We get to dive deeper into subjects they love, while also learning how to get work done even if it isn't our favorite.  We are exploring  literature at a greater depth that we could ever do before.  

We discuss critical thinking skills and logical fallacies in the messy topics of current events. Each day they show me how insightful they are, and how truly lovely their hearts are. I have loved this precious season of seeing my teens grow into adulthood.  

If you WANT to homeschool your high school, I will again say a resounding YES!

This post is not about warning about the dangers of homeschooling in high school, but to warn against being ignorant of what this commitment really entails. There is a real ignorance of the real investment needed when we try to apply the "one year at a time" philosophy to high school. 


HIGH SCHOOL CREDITS ARE DIFFERENT THAN MIDDLE SCHOOL SUBJECTS 

I have homeschooled my kids since they were in Kindergarten.  I tried to cover all my bases, and not leave a ton of educational gaps, but I never kept a transcript of "credits". In Indiana all I have to do is track their attendance and provide an equivalent education (which is very subjective) .

There is a lot of debate on what I personally should  count as homeschooling high school credits.  In Indiana I legally don't have to follow any specific credit plan, but I do use their graduation requirements as a guide for my curriculum planning. We can debate all day on how many hours should equal a credit, or if I should even look at the state's graduation requirements for my homeschool student, but that is not what I am discussing in this article.

 None of this debate matters if I plan to homeschool all the way to graduation, but it would matter greatly if I decided to put my kids into public school in 10th, 11th, or 12th grade.

Many homeschool parents who are taking the "one year at a time" approach are shocked when they go to enroll a 10th or 11th grader in public school after homeschooling, and realize their student has to retake 9th and 10th grade again, or at very least take several classes again.

I have a childhood friend who was a longtime School Counselor in an Indiana Public School.  She sent me this message recently.


Image Transcribed

"Hi there. I need your homeschool advice. I have a student coming from Texas that was homeschooled. Just a freshman. Well the parents are upset that we aren’t giving them credits for the classes she took earlier. They used random home school curriculum. None of which is accredited or have any sort of transcript of grades. We are making her retake those semester courses bc that is what we are told if they don’t have accredited transcript grades we can’t just take their parents word that they passed algebra. I don’t know how to look at it from the other side. We have strict guidelines at the high school level and Texas doesn’t seem to. Do you have any advice for me? "


IT ISN'T PERSONAL 

Public School must accept your student, but they do not have to accept your credits

Public school officials are usually ignorant of homeschool law (we can educate kindly and respectfully), and many times this ignorance goes both ways. 

Homeschool parents who don't know anything about public school laws can easily become defensive. Homeschool parents seem to take it personally when their high school credits are not accepted at a public high school.   It is important we educate ourselves that public schools and colleges are legally bound to an accreditation process.  

WHAT IS ACCREDITATION?

 "[Accreditation] requires a rigorous self-evaluation and an independent, objective peer appraisal of the overall educational quality. Accreditation emphasizes quality assurance and a commitment to continuous quality enhancement." Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges & Schools

"Accreditation is the recognition from an accrediting agency that an institution maintains a certain level of educational standards." U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security 

In short, accreditation means you have proven you are capable and trustworthy to teach what they say you need to be teaching.

Accreditation is often tied to funding.  Schools need to prove to whoever is giving them money they are teaching what they say they are teaching.  You can disagree with this process all day long, and many of us chose to homeschool because of it, but it doesn't change the fact that it exists.  Schools are beholden to the laws that provide them money, which usually require accreditation. 

The accreditation process is very expensive and complicated for any private or public school to achieve, and it isn't a one and done.  It has to be renewed over and over again, with changing standards every time, which is why many private schools do not bother with it.

 I worked at a preschool during our N.A.E.Y.C accreditation renewal.  It was a lot of extra and expensive work and documentation, but we knew it was worth it because it meant we were keeping our program in line with higher standards. Accreditation also allowed us to apply for more grants. 

EVERY STATE AND DISTRICT IS DIFFERENT

Every state is vastly different on how they run accreditation for their public education! Even with the differences in states, the accreditation process is always tied to multiple laws, government bureaucracy, and funding, not to an anti-homeschool mentality. I'm sure some public school officials are biased against homeschool, but that isn't why they can't accept your unaccredited homeschool credits.  

Public and Private School accreditation is a complicated process to which I will not claim to be an expert. Some accreditation processes are voluntary, like when my private preschool went the extra step to become N.A.E.Y.C accredited. Some are mandated by the state legislature for their public education, but some states require their public schools to be federally accredited, while some only require state or even just regional accreditation.  In doing research for this post, I found a variety of accreditation, all confusing, with no one answer even for a whole state, let alone the entire country. 

Like my friend saw above, the homeschool AND public school laws in Texas are very different than in Indiana. Many homeschoolers thinks that only homeschool law will effect them, but if you eventually plan to enroll a homeschooled student into a public high school, you need to know what your local district's laws are about, and what credits they can and can not accept.  

This varies by state, region, and school district.  Unaccredited Private Schools will be more flexible. Some states will have more flexible laws on what their public schools can accept, and some districts are very strict and not homeschool friendly even if their state's laws are. This is why I stress doing your own research before homeschooling for high school. 


THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN ACCREDITED HOMESCHOOL CURRICULUM 

Schools are accredited, curriculum is not.

There is no such thing as an accredited homeschool curriculum, only institutions who have gone through an accreditation process. 

Abeka is not an accredited curriculum, it is an accredited private school. There are accredited online schools that call themselves "homeschool" because they are done in your home, but the label is misleading depending on your definition of homeschooling. Many homeschool parents will say their child is taking "accredited homeschool" through Abeka, but in technically their child is enrolled in a remote accredited private school.

Similarly, the federal online public school K-12 likes to call itself "homeschool" because it is done at home, but is an accredited online public school. 

 If you want your child to take some classes through an accredited community college, public school will accept those if that college is accredited. 

I am not urging you to use an online accredited school, WE ARE NOT! If you chose an accredited online school you don't get to chose your curriculum because they are subject to their accreditation standards, so therefore I do not even consider that homeschooling. But if you want to have your homeschool accredited, they are the option.

COLLEGE ACCEPTANCE IS DIFFERENT THAN A HIGH SCHOOL ACCEPTING CREDITS 

Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) can do nothing to force high school acceptance of your credits, but will go to bat for college acceptance of homeschool transcripts.

I have no fear of my homeschooled high school students getting into college.  Many colleges will seek out homeschoolers because of their proven track record of success.


YOU DON’T NEED AN ACCREDITED DIPLOMA FOR YOUR STUDENT TO GET INTO COLLEGE 

In Indiana I am legally a non-accredited private school. I will issue my sons a diploma from our non-accredited private school. My children legally have the same standing as any unaccredited private high school student has in the admission process.

 I have several friends whose children have gotten into State, out of state, and Ivy League colleges with an unaccredited homeschool diploma.

You don't need accreditation, you just need outside validation.

Colleges use much more than just a transcript for admission. We will also have several outside validations that corroborate what my transcript records.

Examples of Outside Validation:

  • Dual enrollment credits through out local community college
  • AP tests
  • National tests like SAT/ACT 

Again, This post is not about warning about the dangers of homeschooling in high school, but to warn against being ignorant of the the amount of commitment it takes. Know that if you chose to take this awesome and amazing journey, you will most likely need to do it until graduation or find an unaccredited private school who will take your unaccredited credits. 


Khan Academy has some great resources for HOW TO GET A HOMESCHOOLED CHILD INTO COLLEGE





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