Good recordkeeping is essential for homeschooling your high schooler. No matter how ideal a student’s high school experience, poor or missing records can damage a homeschool grad’s chances of attending college or vocational school, receiving financial aid, and even getting a job. Additionally, the homeschool laws in some states require that specific records be kept.
The good news is, recordkeeping for your high schooler does not have to be a headache! Even if you struggle with organization, you can easily create your own recordkeeping system or take advantage of the many homeschool recordkeeping tools that are available.
You’ll want to start by making sure you understand the big picture.
Recordkeeping tracks your student’s completed coursework, credits earned, and grades, as well as the many opportunities of which your teen takes advantage. This information falls into three main categories: academic records, personal records, and a transcript. Together, these paint a vibrant picture of your student’s interests, abilities, and achievements.
Work samples: Retaining samples of your high schooler’s work enables you to document educational progress should government officials require it. It’s also a good idea to hang onto your child’s 7th- and 8th-grade work samples for three years each. Keep samples from all four years of high school until your child has graduated. (And if you’re homeschooling your child for the first time as a 9th grader or older—you can begin where you’re at and start keeping those samples now.)
Course descriptions:These are vital for students applying to selective colleges, qualifying for substantial scholarships, seeking admission to any of the military academies, or qualifying for NCAA eligibility.
It’s a good idea to write descriptions of all high school courses. A well-written description explains a course’s academic purpose, educational content, and the focus of the skills taught. You’ll want to include a course overview, the grading method, evaluation of credit, and the materials used to teach the course (textbooks, literature, lab books, DVDs, etc.).
Members may access these tips for writing course descriptions.
Report cards: If your teen is taking outside courses through an online provider, dual enrollment, a local co-op, or a private tutor, you’ll need to keep copies of any report cards received.
While report cards are not necessary for most homeschooled students, you may find them helpful if your teen wants to receive a good student discount on drivers insurance and necessary if your teen receives Social Security benefits.
Partial high school transcripts: Be sure to request a partial transcript from any public or private high school your teen may have attended before being homeschooled. Your teen might also receive partial transcripts when taking distance learning courses.
Partial college transcripts:Retain copies of transcripts if your teen takes community college or other dual-enrollment courses.
Test scores: Depending on your state, this could include standardized test scores or portfolio assessments to satisfy end-of-year requirements. This also includes college entrance exams (ACT, SAT, and CLT), college credit exams (AP, CLEP, and DSST), and other exams (SAT Subject Tests). (We have lots of testing information here.)
School district records (if required by your state)
Important contact information (for HSLDA, state homeschool organization, local school district’s homeschool department, umbrella organization, etc.)
Medical records (including immunization records)
Documentation of learning issues, challenges, and disabilities [LINK to “Name of Special Needs Recordkeeping” post that covers this topic]
Extracurricular activity summary (lists and describes awards, honors, volunteer service, sports, travel, etc.)
A transcript is a concise, accurate one-page record of the academic courses your teen takes during high school. It includes the high school credit and final grades earned for each course, as well as your student’s GPA.
It is best to begin compiling the transcript when your teen is in 9th grade and then add to it each year. This way, you will avoid last-minute frustration and mistakes, because community colleges, trade/tech schools, four-year colleges/universities, scholarship organizations, military recruiters, apprenticeship programs, and prospective employers can all require a copy of your teen’s transcript as part of the application process.
Learn all about creating a transcript for your homeschooled high schooler in “Why Every Teen Needs a Transcript.”
Keep it simple—and keep backups
Develop a system of recordkeeping that will not be burdensome to you. For example, you may choose to use a three-ring binder, file folders, or your computer. You can also use a homeschool recordkeeping service or software. (We list a variety of recordkeeping options here to help you develop the right approach for your family.)
Whatever you decide, remember to keep copies or backups! Losing these important records to a computer malfunction, house fire, or other unexpected circumstance could have serious ramifications for your graduate.
How long should you keep records?
Some records can be disposed of when your student graduates from high school and has completed the college application process.
We recommend that you keep the following high school records permanently: report cards, transcripts, standardized test scores, college entrance test scores, and immunization records. Many families keep course descriptions as well, because they present a detailed record of their homeschool program.
Good records provide a foundation for your homeschooled teen’s future . . . and they ease your administrative tasks. Happy recordkeeping!