Figuring out how to grant high school credits seems daunting to some homeschool parents, but it’s not as difficult as many imagine. There are several different options for figuring out credits. Parents can mix-and-match them, using one method for one class and another method for another class. Or pick a favorite and stick with it.
A lot of high school students earn college credit before graduating high school. Several avenues for doing this are available to homeschooled students and a lot of students graduate high school as homeschoolers with several college credits or even a two-year AA degree to their name.
Advanced Placement (AP) courses are a popular option in schools. Part of the reason for their popularity is that high schools get higher ratings if they have more of their students take AP exams and higher ratings can lead to more funding. Note that some ratings aren't even based
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.
Community service is NOT required for graduation from a home education program. On the other hand, community service is not only good for the soul and the community, but can also help with college scholarships.
Documentation of community service for high school, aka the last four years of a child's k-12 education, should be kept. The last four years is an important distinction since grade levels aren't always clearly defined for homeschool students. Some graduate earlier than they would have if they'd been in a public school and some will take their time and graduate later. Scholarship programs will not accept more than four years' of community service--from the day after 8th grade--usually considered to be the end of May or early June onward--until high school graduation.
It can be useful in pursuing scholarships including the Bright Futures scholarship or other programs.
The Affidavit of Completion is a notarized form or letter in which a parent affirms that the student completed high school in a home education program. Florida law requires a college to accept the Affidavit of Completion as the legal equivalent of a high school diploma. (See question 13 in the Florida Dept. of Education's Office of Choice's official Home Education FAQ.)
Many, if not all, Florida colleges have their own Affidavit of Completion forms, but parents can design their own. Many parents put this on their child's official final high school transcript, while others make it a separate letter or form.
Recent changes (Jan. 2020) in Florida law regarding the wording to be used on notarized documents may make older versions such that a notary will have to attach a separate form which makes it look less official--especially with notaries who are doing online notarization.
The Florida Department of Education's Office of Choice used to say, in their Home Education FAQ, that home educated students do not receive diplomas but could seek GEDs. I challenged that when the FAQ pages were being updated in October 2020 because home education students DO receive diplomas. They don't receive diplomas from local school districts because--as state law says--home education programs are not school district programs. Of course a school district won't give
High School Transcripts
A high school transcript is a brief one-page (or at most two-page) summary of a high school student's education. A transcript may be used as proof of a student's educational record for admission to a school or college. Some potential employers will ask to see a high school transcript--I was asked to show my high school transcript to an employer even though I'd graduated college more than a decade earlier and had graduate school credits, too. So, while parents are not required by Florida law to prepare a transcript for their high school student, wise parents will make sure their children have a high school transcript.
Parents who create a set of course descriptions will be able to take the information needed for the transcripts directly from the course descriptions they've written.
What are course descriptions? Why keep them?
Schools publish course descriptions for the courses they offer to help students decide whether to sign up for a class, as well as to help anyone (including college admissions officials and potential employers) who wants more information about their courses.
The quality of high school courses given can vary a lot even within a single school. Most textbooks include much more information than can possibly be covered in a single year and high school teachers often have freedom to pick and choose which parts they will use with their students. Several years ago, I was tutoring a public school student in English. Her literature textbook included classics by Shakespeare, Mark Twain, O. Henry, Dickens, and more. It included a variety of modern pieces from various parts of the world. It also included pieces by Dr. Seuss: The same Dr. Seuss that many children read in kindergarten or first grade. Her public school English teacher had assigned reading material by Dr. Seuss.
While college admissions officers, employers, and others may assume that a public school is providing a decent education, some will have more questions about a homeschool education. Part of the purpose of the course description is to help outsiders get a tiny glimpse of the type of courses your child has taken as a homeschooled student. Is your child getting a top-quality education? A general hands-on education? A modern education covering the world? A classic education? Or a barely literate, reading-Dr.-Seuss-in-high-school kind of education?
Q: How do you teach home economics at home?
A: Some people just involve their children in their daily living. The child gets involved in cooking, cleaning, mending, sewing, etc. as parents do it or as the child is curious and asks questions about different jobs. Others are more formal about it. It's up to you, of course, and what works for you.
Q: I'm putting my child in school in January. We haven't homeschooled her for a year yet. Since it's been less than a year do I need to turn in an evaluation?
A: Per Florida law, an evaluation is due once a year (by the anniversary of your letter of intent) OR within 30 days of sending in a Letter of Termination to tell the school district that you are done home educating your child.
Q: I just got a message from my school district saying I missed my evaluation deadline and they are taking my kids off their homeschool roster. Can they do that? They never sent a reminder this year, so I thought they were skipping evaluations because of social distancing and such.
A: Florida law requires an evaluation once a year
Sending in a letter of intent, evaluation, or other paperwork?
From Cheryl Bottini, the Palm Beach County Home Education Liaison—the one who handles home education paperwork for the Palm Beach County School District:
“We are several weeks behind in responding to emails. This is a first for us.
We have always been proud to have at
Q: My son is not done with his curriculum and won't be done by his deadline. Can I get an extension? Change his deadline somehow? Should I turn the evaluation in late? I'm panicking. Can you help?