Graduating from Homeschool: Lessons Learned

by Lupe Eyde-Tucker (MaggiLu) & Charles C. Tucker, Certified Teacher, Evaluator, Test Administrator

This past year, I have had some crazy experiences helping a few families with graduating from homeschool and applying to a college.  The craziness was due to the fact that these families were homeschooling through “on-line private/umbrella schools” and lacking documentation. As a result I have learned that homeschool records and transcripts are very important, especially when attending “private/umbrella schools.”

In the state of Florida, an “umbrella” school is classified as a private school, whereby the parent is a teacher of the school whose students are in their home. This is a legal option, but because these students are not registered with the county school district as officially homeschooling, the homeschooling statute does not apply.

Some parents think that umbrella schools are great precisely because of that reason, that they are not governed by the Florida statute on Home Education. However, officially registering to homeschool according to FL law has certain advantages, specifically when it comes to graduation, because Florida law stipulates that a diploma and transcripts issued by the parents must be recognized by a college or university as proof of graduation. Homeschooling under a private umbrella school, however, presents a different situation because the student is actually enrolled in a school. Although the umbrella school may provide transcripts and even a diploma, this is where the issue of accreditation comes into play, and it could hinder your child’s chances of being accepted to a college of their choice, as was the case of a family I was helping earlier this year. Essentially, they were told that the paperwork from the private, on-line school was nothing more than documents from a “diploma mill,” and since the private, on-line school WAS accredited, but NOT accredited by a nationally recognized institution, the college would NOT validate, nor accept their transcripts, not diploma. Since the child was not registered with the county homeschool office, of course, the parent had nowhere to turn to prove that the child indeed was legally homeschooled.

Here is the portion of statute 1007.263 section 2(a) regarding home education:

(2) Admission to associate degree programs is subject to minimum standards adopted by the State Board of Education and shall require:

(a) A standard high school diploma, a high school equivalency diploma as prescribed in s.1003.435, previously demonstrated competency in college credit postsecondary coursework, or, in the case of a student who is home educated, a signed affidavit submitted by the student’s parent or legal guardian attesting that the student has completed a home education program pursuant to the requirements of s. 1002.41. Students who are enrolled in a dual enrollment or early admission program pursuant to s. 1007.271 are exempt from this requirement.
Diplomas like this one can be ordered from HSLDA and personalized.
Diplomas like this one can be ordered from HSLDA and personalized.

Based on the difficulties these families encountered, if you are considering the umbrella school route, I highly recommend keeping very detailed documentation and records of the titles, “grade levels,” & publishers info., etc., of all the reading materials, workbooks, and so on, as well as the activities your children are doing, especially when they get to the “middle grades” level, and higher. This is crucial for putting together their transcripts, which are extremely important, especially when getting prepared to graduate.

If you have concerns or questions, and corrections, about this topic, here’s my cell: 786-525-3545 call anytime.

In my opinion, based on my experience, the following are a few good “safe” practices, not in any particular order:

1. Homeschool registered/Letter of Intent sent to the county – curriculum, activities, schedule, grade level, evaluation method, testing, etc., everything is legally, completely the parents’ choice.

2. Dual enrollment in university/college while student completes high school level work, is a huge advantage, tuition FREE!

3. Having test scores for student records; standardized tests, college entrance exams, G.E.D., etc. can be an advantage. Parents can administer tests with children themselves, anytime.

4. KEEP detailed documentation (notes, lists, screen shots, print outs, etc.) on upper middle school level through high school level “classes,” studies, activities, materials, titles, publishers, “course” descriptions (at least a paragraph), etc. for transcripts.

5. INCLUDE “official” in the title of your child’s transcripts, and NOTARIZE the transcripts. Ba BAM! Official and Legal, AND as Legitimate as ANY “state” transcript.

Refer to this very helpful Frequently Asked Questions provided by the Florida Dept. of School Choice. It answers many questions very clearly.

HSLDA is an excellent resource for everything homeschooling, and a
super organization to be a supporter/member of:

http://store.hslda.org/graduation-supplies-c19.aspx

(FL LAW – 3 types of education: Home Education, Public Education, Private Education – ALL legal options to educate children in Florida! There are around 100,000 homeschool registered students in the state of Florida)

If you have concerns or questions, and corrections, about this topic, here’s my cell: 786-525-3545 call anytime.

Lupe Tucker

A homeschooling mother of 5, home education advocate, and former classroom teacher. She is a writer, blogger, and poet. "I just want to encourage, and be encouraged. Inspire, and be inspired. Teach a little, and learn a lot," is her approach to life.

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