Let’s get a bit technical today. My legal brain loves to go to details like this, but more than anything because I get a lot of questions about accreditation, I wanted to share a basic overview of what is accreditation and if it’s important to you.
Homeschoolers throw this word out and then stop to take a deep breath because they are not sure if they should be shopping for something that says accredited, running from it or just standing in place freaking out.
GETTING SMART WITH ACCREDITATION
Since I love layman’s language too and simple is always better let’s break down accreditation removing the shroud of mystery that seems to loom over it.
The first step in understanding whether or not you need to investigate more about accreditation is to grasp a basic meaning of it.
Accreditation. A voluntary process by schools to an agency that certifies that the school has met certain requirements and is an official school.
In the United States, accreditation is an entirely voluntary process.
Can you see that right away the term official becomes a problem? Why? Because if you are legally going to need an accredited school, the next logical question is accredited by whom. I’ll get to that in a minute. Let’s soak in this definition a bit more.
Homeschooling and Accreditation
In layman’s language, an accredited agency establishes guidelines saying that your child attended a real or legal school.
Now don’t get your hairs bristled yet because I am right there with you, but key to understanding this is to understand it from a legal point of view.
It is a way of one educational institutional assuring another educational institution, usually an institute of higher education, like a four year college that the diploma meets certain qualifications or standards.
It is about establishing guidelines or standards.
Too, when accredited becomes a topic for discussion, it is normally during the high school years, but not always. More on that in a minute too.
If you live in a state or country that requires an accredited program, then understanding the big players recognized by the government is key to being selectively picky about a school that voluntarily goes through the accrediting process.
Goodness sakes, there is no need to memorize them, we have enough on our plates. Just be familiar with the agencies.
As you can see, if you need an accredited school, it’s just as important to be sure it’s accredited by one of these six regional bodies that are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education:
Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
New England Association of Schools and Colleges
Northwest Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
Western Association of Schools and Colleges
There are good accrediting agencies and bad ones, recognized ones and unrecognized ones, legitimate ones and phony ones.
I don’t want to completely make your eyes pop out, because there are other accrediting agencies that I have seen through the years that are excellent, but the key is to understanding whether or not a majority of high learning institutes will recognize them.
Let’s separate the legal information now from what works for giving a child a superior education.
A fine detail, but huge point homeschoolers over look when they get anxious about accreditation is understanding that accreditation has nothing to with the value of an education or the curriculum.
WHAT NO ONE TELLS YOU ABOUT ACCREDITATION
The two terms accreditation and superior education are not synonymous.
Schools throw out that term as if attending one of those schools gives your child an edge in learning. It does not.
Helping new homeschoolers, I have seen some of the worst private schools accredited and I have seen some very small private school not accredited that offer an excellent educational program.
Accreditation may become important for these 3 reasons:
- 1. It may be important in the elementary years, if you don’t plan to school longer than a year. After putting your child back into school, your local school may require proof that your child used an accredited school before they advance them to the next grade.
- 2. Normally accredited is used more when your teen approaches high school and is deciding what path to take for their post high school years. Helping homeschoolers whose children went on to the military is where an accredited diploma is important. This though could be a whole article on its own, but to keep it simple, please be sure you look into this if your child is planning a route that way.
- 3. The next area where you need to know if your child has to have an accredited diploma is either if you live in a state that requires it or if your child is wanting to pursue a career that specifically asks for a diploma from an accredited school.
As you can see, thousands and thousands of homeschoolers have gone on to elite colleges with a mommy degree and without the need for an accredited school.
Homeschoolers may still be the minority in colleges, but it’s not the minority that understand how driven our homeschooled kids are and the superior value of their high school education without an accreditation agency can’t be denied.
Understanding that accreditation is not a mystery, but fulfills legal requirements and is used mostly when your child approaches the teen years helps you to understand whether or not an accredited school is something you need for your family.
What’s your answer when somebody asks you if your children attend an accredited school?
Hugs and love ya
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