Evaluations and More
A good evaluator works for the parents, assisting them in meeting legal requirements and in supporting them when districts overstep their bounds."
Is Accreditation Necessary?
Many parents, especially those of high school students, wonder if they need to use accredited curriculum or an accredited program, but accreditation applies to schools, not curriculum. There is no such thing as an accredited textbook, but there are accredited schools that use a variety of textbooks or other resources.
What is accreditation?
Accreditation means that an accrediting agency has reviewed all aspects of the operation of a school; it has examined its facilities, its policies, its faculty and student manuals, etc., has interviewed its faculty and administrators, and has given its approval to the school's program of instruction, operations, and facilities. Accreditation gives a guarantee that the school meets certain standards.
Do all schools have accreditation?
No. A number of private and even some public schools are not accredited. A newly opened school won't be accredited as it won't have all the factors that accreditation is based on in place yet. Some private schools have been around for years without accreditation and their students get into colleges without issues; so even with schools, accreditation isn't necessarily required.
Even when a school is accredited, that accreditation might not be of any value. For example, some schools have been accused of having questionable accreditation that came from agencies that the schools themselves created--meaning that the accreditation is meaningless. Anyone can create a company and say that it offers accreditation, but the accreditation will be of little value if no one trust their judgment; so, accreditation only means something if the accreditation is from a trusted accrediting agency.
Even when a school seems to be accredited, it might not be. I worked for a school, years ago, that advertised itself as accredited, but when I wanted proof of it for a program I was trying to participate in, I discovered that while the school had been accredited at one point, years before, it had willing given it up when the expenses of keeping up accreditation (building a larger library, installing adequate sprinkler system, rebuilding railings, etc.) grew too big; yet, the school paid a fee to the accrediting agency to be allowed to use their name on their advertising. So, if checking on the accreditation status of a private school that you plan to use, don't only check with the school itself. Check the reputation of the accrediting agency and verify the accreditation with the agency.
When is accreditation required?
Florida law does NOT require accreditation. For most families, accreditation will not be necessary, but in certain situations a wise parent may find accreditation worth paying more for.
For those who are home educating (i.e., they sent in a letter of intent to notify the school district that the parent has taken control of the student's education), accreditation usually does not matter. State law gives guarantees of acceptance of a home education student as a high school graduate if the parent has an Affidavit of Completion notarized for their child.
Those who have been involved in serious sports and continued sports in college used to find that using an accredited school's program while homeschooling made it easier to maintain sports eligibility requirements. However, parents of students who have transitioned into college sports as recently as 2020 have told me that they found it possible to get approval from organizations such as the NCAA without using accredited programs as long as they researched online to find options for study that the organization has approved in the past. If opting for serious sports, research well the requirements of the organization that determines eligibility; homeschooling has been common enough for years that this information is available online. Using an accredited school's program may be best if the parent does not want to use materials that an organization has previously approved.
Those who are using an umbrella school (a school which is registered with the state of Florida as a private school and agrees to oversee homeschooling; an umbrella school will require a birth certificate and medical records--a recent physical and immunization records or an official waiver form--to register), may find accreditation of their umbrella school to be very important. Why? Umbrella schools tend to look like "diploma mills" that simply sell diplomas. Colleges, universities, trade schools, and any other organization that receives Federal funding will likely worry that accepting a diploma mill "graduate" as a student will cause their institution to lose funding. So colleges, universities, etc. that might not ask about the accreditation of a typical private school, may be leery of umbrella schools and want proof that the school is legitimate.
Is there any other circumstance in which accreditation might be needed?
One other situation might be with foreign language classes. Colleges and universities tend to require two years of high school classes for the same foreign language for admission and/or graduation from their college or university, but foreign language is the one subject area in which they are leery about accepting credits unless they know the source. Because of this, many parents will opt to have their teenagers take foreign language classes from FLVS or from a community college (one year of community college foreign language classes equals two years of high school credits). However, these aren't the only options. Some opt to use other language study materials and then take a CLEP or AP exam to verify the learning. Others search out other accredited sources. And others don't worry about it but know that their child might have to take additional foreign language classes in college.
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