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Hello Rebecca! I have one daughter finishing 8th grade and one finishing her Junior year at college. And we survived!
The first thing I did in preparing for high school was to know what my own state required for a high school diploma. I live in Indiana, but my friend lives in Ohio. So while we have very similar models for what high school looks like on a transcript there are some subtle differences. For example, Indiana considers a year of English as 2 credits. (I grew up in Ohio and expected 1 year to equal 1 credit!) If you buy a lot of wonderful books that are available to you there are of course going to list a lot more options for calculating what a credit is... but I highly recommend that you start with the basis of your own state. You should easily be able to Google the information and find it on your state's department of education website. My state actually has 3 standards now; a technical diploma, a general diploma, or an honors diploma. Use this as a guideline ONLY.
Don't get caught up in trying to mimic the state diploma... just keep it handy as you work through the year.
Another GREAT thing that we did early on was visit a college fair at the local high school. This gave us the opportunity to talk to dozens of college reps in one night and ask questions. Specifically, what are they looking for from a homeschooled student vs. a public schooled student? We knew many moms who had invested hours and hours on creating portfolios of their student's high school work only to stick it in a closet because no one asked to see it! Overwhelming we were told that the SAT was the biggest standard for admission.
This makes perfect sense... because any portfolio grade by a parent is going to be somewhat biased. Every school system is different as well, and an A in Algebra at one school isn't necessarily and A in the next district over. The SAT or ACT is a more level standard across the country.
I will add the little caveat that Indiana is a VERY homeschool friendly state. If I lived in Ohio I would probably be forcing myself to jump through more hoops. You have to know what is acceptable in your state.
I think I've written a book myself! lol. Hope it helps...
Don't have a lot to add but wanted to mention Teaching Textbooks for math. If you or your child are math people Saxon should work great. If your student finds any of the upper levels of math a struggle I'd stronly recommend Teaching Textbooks. They explain the solution to each problem. It's like having a math tutor available 24/7. My oldest used Jacobs, my next used Saxon, (both of them were strong in Math). My youngest has used TT for Pre-Alg, Alg. and Geometry and has grasped well what is for her a challenging subject.
My boys are graduating this year. We used Dave Ramsey's "Foundations in Personal Finance" for consumer economics. We bought the "home school edition" but it is really geared for a class room (school or church group) and took just a little effort by me to go through the assignments and see what would work in our situation. It's a combination of video lessons and a workbook that worked well for us.
I live in Illinois and I ordered books titled "Constitution Study Guide of the United States and the State of Illinois" that was published by the Illinois Community College Board to be used as a study guide for the GED Constitution test. It has lessons with vocabulary quizzes and section quizzes and seems to be preparing them well for the required Constitution test. I think they were $10 each. I originally found them at our public library, but they are workbook format so I wanted my boys to each have one to write in. I've found several versions of a Constitution test on-line (with answers) and will use one of those for the actual test. If your state doesn't offer something like that you could probably order these from:
Curriculum Publications Clearinghouse, Western Illinois University, Horrabin Hall 71B, Macomb, IL 61455 (800)322-3905
I will weigh back in to echo the recommendation for Teaching Textbooks. We made the switch for to their curriculum my daughter's sohpmore year and she was so grateful for this fabulous tool that she insisted I approach the author at the HS convention and tell him how much she loved it. Now we work 2 conventions for then each year and spread the joy!
We changed from Teaching Textbooks to Thinkwell for Algebra II. TT's isn't deep enough. Thinkwell far outweighs TT in the scope. Also, TT stops after Pre-Calculus and they have no plans to expand. Thinkwell has additional courses and can prep for AP/CLEP/SAT Subject tests.
I'm going to disagree with Tara in that many colleges do NOT look at test scores...especially for HS'ers. I'm on a HUGE 'net board with HS'ed high schoolers (and kids who enter college as early as 10). The transcript is the most important for a HS'er, as is the interview, if needed. The portfolio and test scores don't matter much.
Here's a link to a site that lists all the colleges that don't even look at the scores:
I use Homeschool Tracker Plus as our planning and record-keeping program. It has many report options and I can use their transcript, reading logs, etc., or make my own. It's a wonderful program, especially for trying to gather up all the info for graduation and college admissions.
I've read many books on HS'ing high school, and I'm on many 'net boards about it, or with other parents who've BTDT. I've also sat in on colloquia with major homeschool authors. Just last week, I had one with Lisa Rivero, author of "Creative Homeschooling".
She had much insight to college admissions and shared with us her student's sample transcript. This is absolutely where the most time should be given in high school.
Many HS'ers don't even need the SAT/ACT for college admission, since many take community college classes for many/all of their courses in "high school". They apply, and enter, a four-year university as freshman or sophomore status, which means they don't need their test scores. And the CC's admit high schoolers if they can pass their admissions/placement tests, so that a high schooler doesn't even need the test scores, because they're too young for the "typical test taker" (junior/senior).
There is a ton of information on the web about HS'ing for high school. There are also some great Yahoo Groups:
Then there are many Yahoo groups, and forums, for specific curricula. I have a group for each one we're using.
As for credits, there are two ways to do it - mastery-based, or with "seat time". A Carnegie unit is 125 "seat hours" meaning how much time the student spent studying the material. Mastery-based credit is based on finishing a textbook/curriculum. Some students can complete a 180-day/36 week curriculum in must less time than 125 hours. But they can still earn the credit.
A general rule is that a one-semester class (18 weeks or 62 hours in class) is one-half credit, and a full-year (36 weeks or 125 hours) is worth one credit.
Some curricula are set up to learn information, but none to test the depth of the learning. In that case, you can give a student an essay project, or final project, to complete the course and have tangible evidence in their portfolio of having passed the class and received credit.
Grades are NOT important for a homeschooler. They are too subjective and a parent can go too easy on their student (much to his/her detriment).
For high school portfolios & transcripts, you must keep records of each curriculum used, it's Scope & Sequence, and sample exams and work from each course. Include in the transcript the publisher so that an admissions representative can look into more closely if they want information on how the program compares to a typical B&M program.
In HS'ing, students typically complete an entire textbook. In a B&M class, they're lucky to cover 80% of the same material. So showing completion is a great thing for transcripts/portfolios.
You do not need to worry about accreditation. That is a marketing ploy of curriculum/course providers.
When my first was about to enter "high school" age, I freaked out! I researched every online program and alternative. Then it hit me, that my daughter wasn't changing at all, and that we could continue doing what we'd been doing all along. Unschooling. She is now happily and successfully a sophomore in college. (on Dean's list)
My second child is unschooling high school, and my third child is will be high school age in August.
I used Loretta Heuer's A Homeschooler's Guide to Portfolio and Transcripts to keep track and organize. My daughter took courses at the local state university through dual enrollment, and my sons will be attending community college parttime. We pieced together some online courses, used lots of self-study, and also hired experts to teach when interest dictated (such as filmmaking and science).
Helpful resources: Homeschooler's College Admission Guide, the above Guide to Portfolio and Transcripts, and Homeschooling for Excellence by the Colfaxes.
Best of luck.
Just want to add my thought about test scores. JC said they don't matter much. That may be the case at some colleges, maybe most, but to make that as a blanket statement, i'm not sure about the accuracy.
My daughter received an 8,500 scolarship a yr. at her college based just on her SAT score. My neice recieved a 60% scholarship based on her SAT score. I don't mean to be argumentative; just to let people know it could be benificial to some depending on their college choice to study for the SAT. Again, just my own personal experience.
Just throwing in my two cents here for you also!! :-) My daughter is going into 10th grade this year and I have used everything from textbooks to unschooling her entire HS time. Both JC and Nancy are correct. Everything I have found out is that SAT scores really don't matter to the majority of colleges.......UNLESS you want a scholarship. Then scores become very important because they will then base the scores on how much of a scholarship your child could possibly receive.
One thing I thought I would throw out is we are looking at a program that is online that will allow our daughter to earn the dual credits and graduate with college credits. But it is a program that from what I have seen so far works with specifically with HS'ers I don't know if it has any religious worldview ( I haven't gotten all the info yet) but it is called College Plus.
Just hang in there, because if you got alot of grief about homeschooling in the beginning, there is a good chance it will only increase now! Just speaking from personnel experience on that one!! (smile)