A high percentage of homeschool students are transfers from the public school system. Public schools are continuously focused on their “accreditation,” which lends them credibility in terms of the value of a graduate diploma from their school. Many public schools receive K to 12 evaluation or accreditation from their state’s Department of Education. The consolidated AdvanceEd group continues to provide regional accreditation services. Other accreditation agencies provide evaluation services on a basis that is more specific to individual schools.
This voluntary accreditation system has been accepted as a way for schools to build and maintain a credible reputation. Over time, other educational institutions, organizations, and corporations wanted to participate in the accreditation system to demonstrate to their customer base that they could be depended on for quality educational services. Nursing, cosmetology, dental tech, and a wide variety of computer-related training programs wanted a similar system for quality assurance so that, today, there are more than a dozen nationally based companies that provide accreditation services based on specialty education programs.
IS HOMESCHOOL ACCREDITATION IMPORTANT?
The fact to remember is that accreditation does not guarantee quality. In fact, the number of K to 12 distance learning programs has grown so astronomically over the past several years that it’s getting more and more difficult to choose between accredited programs. As you’re shopping around for schools and curriculum for your homeschooler, remember to check into the credentials of the associated accrediting organization. Is the group claiming to accredit your school (or another school) reputable? How long have they been in business? What criteria do they use to assure quality at your school? School accreditation has become a major industry and as is true of any other business sector, there are unqualified players in the mix.
If you’re looking for assurance that you’re teamed with an education provider that has been reviewed and approved by a reputable accrediting agency, do the research before you sign a contract or write a check. You’re not going to find peace of mind about your child’s home school education if you choose the wrong route.
SHOULD YOUR HOMESCHOOL BE ACCREDITED?
If you do an online search for accredited homeschools or search for a list of accredited homeschool programs, the odds are high that you won’t find much. You will likely be directed to online or virtual schools, which are not at all the same as homeschooling. So – what does accreditation mean for homeschoolers?
What most homeschool parents are looking for is an educational instruction program they can use with their children that meets all local and state requirements, that offers a solid base of required core subjects, provides instructional and guidance support for both parents and students, and does a good job of preparing the student for college and/or a career.
But there are no guarantees when it comes to selecting the appropriate homeschool curriculum. And the truth is, curricula cannot be accredited. Accreditation is extended only to brick-and-mortar schools or virtual schools that have been reviewed by a bonified accrediting agency that verifies the school has achieved certain education standards. Check out the qualifications of your curriculum provider. Is the provider an accredited business certified to offer quality, peer-reviewed curriculum products that you can use with confidence?
(RESOURCE TIP: Global Student Network (GSN) at Homeschooling: Online Homeschool Programs, Curriculum, Courses | GSN (globalstudentnetwork.com) is an excellent source for homeschooling tips. The site offers eight separate peer reviewed programs to consider for your own school – all offered from one central source.
GSN assurances: “Global Student Network is an Cognia accredited corporation. Cognia Accreditation ensures we meet the highest standards in educational management. It reflects our commitment to excellence, our openness to external review and feedback and our desire to meet the highest quality standards. Dedicated to advancing excellence in education through accreditation, research and professional services, Cognia is the world’s largest education community, serving and engaging 30,000 public and private schools and school systems in more than 70 countries and serving over 16 million students. Cognia is the parent organization of the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI), Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI).”)
HOMESCHOOL ACCREDITING ORGANIZATIONS
If you have made the decision to pursue accreditation for your homeschool, make sure you are connected with a legitimate accrediting organization. To avoid sorting through the more-than 50 groups that advertise themselves as legitimate, goto the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) website at https://www.deac.org/ . (Until 2015, DEAC was known as the Distance Education & Training Council (DETC) so you might find additional useful information by researching DETC.}
IS ACCREDITATION REQUIRED FOR HOMESCHOOLS?
The quick answer is “no.” There is no state in the U.S. that has a legal requirement for homeschools to be accredited. In some states, a homeschool may be required to be affiliated with an “umbrella organization” or an accredited program. Be sure to familiarize yourself with homeschool requirements for your state. (RESOURCE TIP: goto Home – Home School Facts for a state-by-state summary of homeschool regulations and laws.)
When you’re considering whether to pursue accreditation for your homeschool, remember that high schools, scholarship programs, colleges and universities often require an accredited transcript for acceptance. Keep in mind what your student wishes to do after high school when weighing the value of accreditation for your home school. If you do include accreditation as part of your program, remember that you will need to create strict reporting requirements for grading tests, essays, and all academic projects. You should also require yearly standardized testing and create a log that includes test results that you use to monitor your student’s home school performance.
WHAT DOES ACCREDITATION MEAN FOR A HOME SCHOOL?
According to the BJU Press Homeschool Blog (Accredited Homeschool Programs – BJU Press Homeschool Blog), accredited homeschool programs are organizations that have been reviewed by an accreditation agency like Cognia or MSA CESS. The accreditation agency reviews the standards and policies of the school or organization applying for accreditation, and if they meet the requirements, the agency grants accreditation.
Although accreditation is not required, if you choose a legitimate accrediting agency and complete the full process, accreditation will provide proof of quality assurance related to your child’s home school education.