Pennsylvania Homeschool Diploma Programs
Also of interest:
Homeschooling High School
PHEAA Requirements for Homeschoolers
There are many options for homeschooling high school, and all of these options have pros and cons. You will need to decide what is the right choice for your own family. Please consider your options carefully, and seek advice from others more knowledgeable than I if you are interested in pursuing one of these routes.
I am NOT a lawyer, and this page is NOT intended as legal advice.
This Web Page by Pauline
Harding for Art Nurk, firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are quite a few options for homeschooling high school in Pennsylvania. This page focuses on the PA home education diploma programs. For a discussion of other options, and more about high school planning, see my Homeschooling High School page.
A home educated student in Pennsylvania may fulfill the requirements of a PA diploma program and receive a home education diploma. There are several of these non-profit programs available. guidelines for meeting the graduation requirements in the home education law. They are all different. A rough estimate is that almost half of home ed high school students in PA use one of these diploma programs. PHAA is the oldest and has been the most widely used in the past, but the newer programs are becoming more well-known.
One of the main advantages to using a typical PA diploma program is that you can combine various kinds of experiences into a diploma/transcript from a single organization. A typical student might have a math class done at home with a textbook, a music class combining listening to concerts with reading books about classical composers or rock musicians, a history class done on-line, a science class done at a co-op, an art class done at a local community college, a literature class done at a summer program. Credits can be earned in a variety of ways – by writing a paper, by logging hours (usually 120 hours = 1 credit), by working through most of a textbook, by taking a formal class, and so on.
Another advantage is that a diploma from a PA diploma program is one way to qualify for PHEAA grants for college.
There are several out-of-state diploma programs, such as NARS (North Atlantic Regional Schools), in Maine, Clonlara School, in Michigan, and West River Academy, in Colorado. However, in general they cost up to ten times as much as the PA programs, so they are rarely used by homeschoolers in PA, though they are used by homeschoolers in other states.
If you are interested in using a diploma program, you will want to carefully consider the differences between the programs, so that you can choose the one that’s right for your family. I have not fully researched each of these programs (nor am I likely to have time to do so), so I can’t give you a full comparison. Here are a few differences between various programs. If you think you’d like to use a PA diploma program, you’ll want to look more closely at each of the programs before deciding which one will meet your needs.
· I know of eight programs: PHAA, ECHS, Susquehanna, Buxmont, Bridgeway, Mason Dixon, Aleithia, and Upattinas. Because I haven’t had time to do the legwork, I know more about some of these programs than others – please don’t rule any out without doing your own research! (Contact info for all eight is here.)
· Most, PHAA, are secular/inclusive in nature, and are not affiliated with a particular religion. Some, such as Mason-Dixon, are associated with conservative Christian organizations. Please refer to the particular program’s guidelines if you have questions or concerns in this area.
According to the PA Homeschoolers newsletter, PHAA graduated 531 students in 2002, making it by far the most widely used diploma option in PA. ECHS had 87 graduates, Susquehanna had 82, Buxmont had 50, Bridgeway had 50, Mason-Dixon
All of the PA programs that have gone through the process of filing their standards and procedures with the PA Dept of Ed are fully recognized by the PDE to issue these diplomas. Because of this, PHAA, for example, seems to have a pretty good track record of getting their credits and diplomas accepted by organizations which require an “accredited” diploma (colleges, employers, scholarship programs, government agencies, etc.); I assume ECHS, and Mason-Dixon and perhaps others are similar. Specifically, PHAA has been fully accepted by NCAA as if it was a school (very useful if your student is a college athlete), by PHEAA for Robert Byrd scholarships, and by Social Security for student status for benefit eligibility.
If you think accreditation may be important to you, it’s worth learning more about what this means. Quite a few different organizations do accrediting. Knowing that a school is accredited is not enough – you must ask which agency is doing the accrediting. With some, there is a complex process the school must follow, and standards that their curriculum must meet. Generally speaking, this kind of accreditation is not available to most diploma programs, because the diploma programs do not require a specific curriculum. With other accrediting agencies, the school has to do little more than pay a fee. Given this, some accrediting agencies are more widely known and respected than others; therefore some accreditation credentials are more widely accepted than others. Just saying that a school is “accredited” is largely meaningless; accreditation by an unrecognized agency, or one with low standards, may not have any value.
Seton Home Study School has a page on accreditation that is well worth reading.
Addresses and links for many of the diploma programs are listed at Home Education Organizations Serving PA Families. A list with more details is at http://www.pahomeschoolers.com/diplorgs.html. Here is my own brief list with a few links and addresses:
· Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency (PHAA) (Inclusive).
· Erie County Home Schoolers Diploma Association (ECHA) (Inclusive).
· Susquehanna Valley Homeschool Diploma Programs, Inc. (Christian).
· Buxmont Christian Educational Institute, Inc. (Christian).
· Mason Dixon Homeschool Association Diploma Program (Christian).
· Aleithia Learning Center (Christian).
· Upattinas School and Resource Center (Inclusive).