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Evaluation of High School Credits
There are several ways to evaluate credits. If your child completes a high school-level text by a reputable publisher in an academic course (math, science, English, foreign language, or history), consider the material covered to be one credit. A one credit course typically requires one school year to complete. A one-half credit academic course (such as American Government or perhaps Constitutional Law) typically requires one semester or one-half year to complete.
Covering the material in a textbook does not necessarily mean doing every problem, answering every question, or reading the book from cover to cover, but you should diligently cover the material presented. Some authors calculate teaching 75% of a textbook to equal one credit, but the bottom line is, don't shortchange your child. As an example, you may not spend as much time nor go into as much detail on the Vietnam War as you do on World War II, but you would still want to be certain that your child has an understanding of the main points regarding the Vietnam War. Let integrity be your guide.
(California residents may want to see the California supplement in the following book that explains credits in their state: The High School Handbook-Junior and Senior High School at Home by Mary Schofield.)
For courses that do not use a standard high school-level textbook (perhaps you are putting together your own unit study, or you are using an integrated curriculum), log the hours that your child spends completing the course work. One credit is approximately 120-180 hours of work. The upper end of this range (180 hours) is usually appropriate for lab science courses, while 150 hours is the average for a year long academic course such as English or History. Don't become legalistic in keeping track of each minute, but generally, when evaluating credit for an academic course, a good rule of thumb is 50 minutes a day, 5 days a week for 36 weeks, for a one-credit course.
Logging hours is a good method of determining credit for elective courses such as art, music, sewing, carpentry, web page design, etc. The lower end of the range (120 hours) is fine for elective courses. For a half-credit elective, log approximately 60 hours; for a quarter-credit elective, log approximately 30 hours.
If your child is enrolled in a course at a community college, you should keep in mind that a one-semester college course is comparable to a one-year high school course. Therefore, if your child takes English 101 for one semester at the community college and earns 3 college credits, this is comparable to satisfying a full-year, one-credit high school course. High school credits and college credits are calculated differently. College credits are determined by hours of instruction and don't equate to high school credits. Local policies may differ so it is best to check with a specific college or state to see how they treat dual enrollment courses.
For a more in-depth discussion of calculating and evaluating high school credits, the following are handy references:
Article: Preparing for College
Homeschooling High School: Planning Ahead for College Admission by Jeanne Gowen Dennis
Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+u+la, Updated by Barbara Edtl Shelton