Credit Given Where Credit is Due

In education, learning should be the bottom line.  Accreditation should not be.

Naperville area homeschoolers negotiated with school authorities, and common sense prevailed. A potential district policy revision was dropped demanding that a “district-approved external accrediting agency” certified any homeschool credits and grades transferred onto a public high school transcript.
The Naperville Sun reports this news from Indian Prairie School District 204’s latest school board meeting:

D204 compromises on home-school policy June 23, 2009 By TIM WALDORF

“The difference that you’re going to see in this new version versus the old is that in the old we indicated that we were not going to accept any credits from a no-accredited school toward graduation. So they would all have to be accredited or else we weren’t going to issue a diploma,” said Mike Popp, District 204’s school improvement and planning director.

“In this version, we’re saying, ‘You know what? That’s not appropriate.’ We’re going ahead and saying we are going to accept those credits, but we put in what you talked about last time: is there a way for us to sit down with an individual student and talk about those individual courses to go ahead and honor the credit that he or she earned?”

The old version (and other pertinent details) are pointed out on News & Commentary here: Educational Rigor

It appears that Mike Popp was reasonable, and kept the dialogue open with local homeschoolers. If homeschoolers did choose to enroll in the public high school, then their previous hard work at home should not have been disregarded because of lack of accreditation.

I don’t see a pass/fail on a transcript as a problem. Our particular family does not do grades. Learning materials are either mastered or not:

However, honoring those credits is one thing. Honoring the grades attached to them is another.

District 204’s transcripts would separately list the unaccredited coursework, and not assign a letter grade to any of it. They would only note whether students passed or failed these unaccredited classes.

Consequently, home school students would have to turn in two transcripts — one from District 204 and one of their own making — when applying to colleges.

Universities and colleges seem to be scrambling and recruiting for that “homemade”/home education transcript. Our local IL community college admissions counselor said that he’s seen (and accepted) homeschool transcripts of various forms. He was part of a homeschool workshop at the college to recruit homeschoolers. Continuing in the article:

The policy will also require these students to complete two credits in a District 204 high school in each of two consecutive semesters prior to graduation. So, in their senior year, these home school students seeking District 204 diplomas — District 204 estimates there are roughly 15 of them a year — will have to attend a District 204 high school on nearly a full-time basis, and pass four senior-level classes in order to graduate.

That seems like a fair policy.  They have a different policy than the National Center for Educational Statistics.  NCES criteria to identify homeschoolers were any kids who are in the public school 25 hours or less/week.  Who has time to homeschool when you’re in school 5 hours a week? 

I had a few thoughts about those ‘statistics’.

The Naperville article information had me a bit puzzled that homeschoolers would be entering the public high school just to get a public school diploma? That piece of paper didn’t seem as useful as a homeschool diploma, or doing as many Illinois homeschoolers do,  and just entering ‘higher education’ with transcript in hand. That’s my biased homeschool opinion, of course.

“The example, by way of analogy that’s in my head, is that it’s what a university would tell you,” said board member Mark Metzger. “You can’t accumulate credits at Eastern and Western and Southern, and then call up U of I and say, ‘I’m going to take a class there, and I want my diploma from you.’ It doesn’t work that way.”

Mr. Metzger’s thoughts are right on. If a public school diploma is sought, that public school should be attended. 

But again, I don’t see the advantage of seeking a public school diploma, if homeschooled teens can finish out their education at home before college. Mark Metzger mentioned the University of Illinois, which is a very competitive school, but yet “30-40 home school students are admitted each year“.

Home Schooled Applicants FAQ

Does the University of Illinois admit home school graduates?

Yes, we encourage home schooled students to apply to the University.

We are very interested in having talented, well-qualified applicants from a variety of settings. Home schoolers would provide a diversity of academic experiences to the campus.

From a homeschool advocate stance, I’m pleased to see that homeschooling credit was given (in more ways than one) by this Illinois school district.