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Upcoming Speaking Engagements
February 20, 2016: Home Educators at Grove—Richmond, VA (Diane)
February 27, 2016: Tuscaloosa Home Educators—Tuscaloosa, AL (Diane)
March 5, 2016: Christian Home Educators of Colorado (CHEC)—Parker, CO (Carol)
April 1-2, 2016: Nebraska Christian Home Educators Association (NCHEA)—Lincoln, NE (Diane)
May 21, 2016: Christian Home Educators of West Virginia (CHEWV)—Getting Started High School Workshops—WV (Carol)
June 16-18, 2016: Christian Home Educators of Colorado (CHEC)—Denver, CO (Diane)
July 15-16, 2016: Arizona Families for Home Education (AFHE) Convention—Phoenix, AZ (Carol)
Not able to attend one of Carol or Diane’s high school events? Purchase a recording of HSLDA’s High School at Home: Turning Possibility into Reality event and watch sessions on developing a high school plan, creating transcripts, charting a course for post-high school plans, and receiving encouragement for the high school years!
“Both of HSLDA’s high school consultants homeschooled their children from kindergarten through the 12th grade.” Learn more >>
High School Recordkeeping: Let’s Simplify the Process
|Dear Friends,||February 4, 2016|
Now that we are halfway through the school year, many parents have questions about what records to keep and how to document both academic achievements and non-academic activities. If you have avoided recordkeeping up until now, then this is a friendly reminder that you are your teen’s official record keeper, and today is a good time to set up a workable system. Tackling this challenge now will give you peace when someone asks to see your child’s records.
Keeping good records has many uses:
- Ensuring compliance with state homeschool laws
- Preparing for post-graduation study at colleges or trade schools
- Documenting student achievement for scholarship organizations
- Providing record of academic study for military recruiters
- Providing evidence of training, certification, and/or community involvement to prospective employers and colleges
Not every record you keep is legally required nor will they all be requested by others; nonetheless, we strongly encourage you to keep them. In this newsletter, we will address what records you should keep during the high school years and what records you should retain permanently.
Who keeps the records?
Most homeschool parents act as the official record keeper for their teens’ high school coursework and activities. During the high school years, we recommend that you keep samples of your teen’s work. Some parents, though, may choose to enroll in an umbrella school, oversight program, or accredited school that offers recordkeeping as part of its services. Availing yourself of one of these options or deciding to generate your own records is really a personal preference. Any homeschool parent willing to devote some time and attention to recordkeeping is certainly capable of documenting their teen’s high school program.
What are course descriptions?
We recommend that you write descriptions of all high school courses. These descriptions should explain the academic purpose of a course, its educational content, the focus of skills taught, and the materials employed to teach it. The different aspects of a course description include
- Course overview
- Method of grading
- Evaluation of credit
- Textbooks used, literature read, lab books employed
- DVDs watched or workshops attended
Some course descriptions may indicate that the assignments completed were at an advanced level, an especially important notation when documenting honors courses. For each course, you must evaluate the amount of high school credit the course deserves. You can decide how detailed each course description will be. Read this past newsletter for more detailed information on each aspect of the course description. Look here for examples of course descriptions.
For teens interested in competing in college sports, the NCAA requires parents to write descriptions for the core courses of English, math, science, history, and foreign language. You will find NCAA instructions for course descriptions here. Parents can begin the process here; under Resources, you will find a comprehensive list of instructions for homeschool students.
What information belongs on a transcript?
All homeschool students will need a high school transcript if their post-high school plans involve four-year colleges, two-year community colleges, vocational schools, trade schools, the workforce, or the military. There are four main sections to a transcript:
- Personal information (both for the student and your homeschool)
- Academic record: course titles, credits, and grades
- Academic summary including Grade Point Averages (GPAs)—both yearly and cumulative
- Self-certification and dated signatures
It is your choice to keep semester grades or final grades, but each course on the transcript must have a grade. We strongly recommend that you decide how you will grade a course before you begin teaching it. Employing a grading percentage will save you hours of anxiety because it greatly simplifies calculating a final grade. For an English course example, you may assign percentages to several categories to calculate a final grade: papers could count for 60% of the final grade, quizzes for 20%, and oral discussions for 20%. You decide the categories and their corresponding percentages. You will find more information on how to use a grading percentage to calculate a final grade here.
Click here to view transcript examples and downloadable blank forms. One of our most popular high school consultant services—included with HSLDA membership—is a transcript review. We offer suggestions on course titles, review course credit evaluations, and check all GPA calculations. If you are not yet a member, consider joining HSLDA to take advantage of these services.
Some homeschool families issue report cards for various reasons, but report cards are not necessary for most homeschool students. If your teen is taking outside courses through an online provider, dual enrollment, a local co-op, or a private tutor, keep copies of report cards from these courses. With the rise of Common Core, more families are pulling teens out of public and private high schools to homeschool. If you are bringing your student home for school, please request a copy of your teen’s partial transcript from any school your student has attended. Dual-enrollment students should also keep copies of college grades. Parents should create one transcript that shows the entire four years of high school and all courses completed. Teens who drive and want to apply for good driver discounts will need a high school transcript to show that they qualify for the insurance discount.
What about test scores?
Many states require that students take yearly standardized achievement tests. Some states require these scores to be sent into the district every year, and others require the parent to keep standardized tests results at home unless requested. Set up a notebook to store these important documents.
What records do I send to my school district?
We recommend that you keep copies of any documentation you submit to your school district. Some states require that families record hours of instruction and/or days of attendance. Others stipulate subjects or credits students must complete. Some records must be sent in quarterly while other records must be maintained but not necessarily sent to the district unless requested. Check HSLDA’s state legal analyses to determine your state’s requirements.
What medical records should I keep?
Retain copies of your teen’s immunization record. For special needs students, keep copies of evaluations for learning challenges. This will be important if your teen wants to apply for testing accommodations for PSAT, SAT, or ACT. This recent newsletter by HSLDA Special Needs Consultants has helpful information concerning ACT accommodations. HSLDA members can call and speak with these qualified experts to discuss curriculum, test, evaluation, and treatment resources.
What non-academic records are important?
Extracurricular activities your teens participate in outside of the academic courses are areas where your teens can shine. For résumé advice, read this recent newsletter about volunteer service (community and church), work experience (employee and entrepreneurial), awards and honors, competitive sports, certification, training, cultural events, and other categories.
What should I know about homeschool diplomas?
When your teen is ready to graduate from high school, you have the privilege of issuing a high school diploma. You can either purchase a diploma or generate your own. Here are frequently asked questions about homeschool diplomas, answered by HSLDA lawyers. Most colleges and employers recognize homeschool diplomas, and HSLDA stands ready to defend graduates who are discriminated against simply because they hold a homeschool diploma. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the United States military honor homeschool diplomas. HSLDA fights tirelessly for the legal right for parents to generate their teen’s homeschool diploma and transcript, and we vigilantly work so that these diplomas and transcripts are recognized by companies, colleges, and other institutions without discrimination.
What should I keep as permanent records?
When you finally finish celebrating your teen’s graduation, it is time to clean house. We recommend that you keep the following permanent records: report cards (if given), transcripts, standardized test scores, college-entrance test scores, and immunization records. It is a good idea to keep course descriptions. If your teen has completed college applications, keep a copy of the application because the form often contains useful information you may need later. Remember to back up all of your computer files.
Closing the book on a teen’s high school records is both happy and sad. We celebrate each graduate’s achievements and thank each parent for their labor of love to document their teen’s achievement.
Join us next month as we delve into tips for teaching math.
God will bless your mighty endeavor,
Carol Becker and Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Consultants