Are you on the fence about accreditation? What is accreditation? Why do I need to accredit? Why am I excited to accredit my homeschool? Let’s dig in and find out, shall we?
First and foremost, I want to assure you that this isn’t a sponsored post, or a paid advertisement. This opinion is entirely my own, carefully considered conclusion.
You may have heard some of the scary stories out there from homeschoolers- social workers called on homeschooling families, legal problems, school districts trying to interfere. It’s icky stuff. I don’t like to think about it because I have terrible anxiety. One of my main anxieties surrounds how other people view my parenting. While, in reality, I know that I’m a great mom and my kids are lucky to have me, I’m still scared of being judged. So I’m excited to accredit my homeschool…
Accreditation feels like a great way to give myself a little “insurance policy”.
Accreditation is, basically, the certification of your homeschool by an authorized agency. I chose HBEAA because they are recognized by my state. That’s reason number one why I chose to go through this process:
1. The Annual State Testing Requirement is Waived.
I live in a moderately regulated homeschool state. The biggest requirement that I was concerned about was the annual test. For a bunch of reasons. But mostly because I don’t want my kids to have to go thru testing until much closer to the college years. I don’t plan to use testing as an evaluation in my homeschool. I also dread the idea that my kids would take some bizarre, oddly-structured or unnecessarily confusing test every year, and that would be how we would define our success. No, thank you. I want us to homeschool and evaluate on our own terms, not someone else’s.
2. They do a lot of the “scary work” for you!
One of the other things I wasn’t looking forward to was delivering my “intent to homeschool” letter to our district. Now, I’ve never done it, so maybe it’s no big deal and I was afraid of nothing. But I was afraid I might get pushback, or worse, a phone call from our school Superintendent or something! This way, I have someone else delivering my paperwork for me, and before they deliver it, making sure all my i‘s are dotted and my t‘s are crossed. Yes, please! I’m excited to accredit my homeschool!
3. It Comes With Some Nice Perks
Once I complete all the required paperwork (I’ll be covering this process extensively over the next few posts), I will get an official certificate of accreditation and a Teacher ID card. This will allow me to get educator discounts at various places, and it’ll also be something fun to display in our house! There’s a lot of details to attend to- but here’s an important part of my consideration: I was going to do a lot of this paperwork and prep work anyway. I’m the kind of mom who likes to do things “officially” (whatever that means!). So, since I was going to put in this legwork, why not get all the benefits I can from it?
4. They Provide You With Transcripts
This isn’t a concern for us right away- my kids are so little. But further down the line, when I have high school-aged kids, it’ll be great to have the extra help with making sure we are able to send colleges or employers the right information. So, it provides reassurance, and is definitely a reason why I’m excited to accredit my homeschool.
5. I Will Receive Support For My Entire School Year
My accreditation officer will be assigned to me, and will become familiar with all the paperwork I submit about my homeschool. That means that. if I need guidance or help with something, I can call them. They will be versed not only in what other homeschools are like, but also in what our state’s education guidelines are, and how to bear them in mind as necessary. I’m not super concerned about sticking to my state’s educational philosophies, but I do want my kids to be able to go to college, and whatever I can do to make sure that we look “shipshape” is worth it to me.
6 and 7. They Provide Accountability and Structure
The accreditation was actually what sold my husband on the idea of homeschooling. ‘Oh, so we’ll have somebody to help us keep track of what we should be doing? Got it.’ (Not his exact words, but his sentiment). I really wasn’t concerned about creating a comprehensive curriculum, or learning environment for my kids. But I was going to make all these lesson plans, school year schedules, blah blah blah. So, now, here’s a place that I can submit them to, and get really valuable feedback- “Yes, you’re on the right track”, or “have you considered this?”
A Few Drawbacks- Reasons Why This Might Not Be Right For You
The biggest downside to accreditation is they ask you to implement a grading scale. In K-8, it seems like you can use a more fluid scale- “Excellent”, “Moderate”, etc.
But in High School, they ask you to assign your student letter grades. This allows them to provide accurate grade point information on a transcript. While I understand this completely, and it probably is a good tool for a college-bound student, I’m really bummed out about the idea of having to make my kids worry about grades at all. One of my primary goals in my homeschool is to assure my kids that they are enough. They don’t need to be anything other than who they are to succeed in this world. Obviously, there are ways to do that even within the confines of a grading system, but I was kind of hoping to avoid that mess altogether.
It reminds me of that line in the TV show Arrested Development– Maebe Funke attended an alternative school with a different grading system, and her mother reminds her that she “got a crocodile in spelling”.
If you are planning to unschool, travel extensively, or don’t like to plan things fairly extensively, I think accreditation isn’t a good choice for your family. However, if you’re slightly daunted by the idea of documenting everything, but accreditation is appealing to you– then don’t worry! I’ll walk you through everything, step-by-step, in my Getting Ready to Homeschool series, coming soon to my email newsletter. Make sure to subscribe to my email newsletter, Twilight Tuesday, so you get it sent straight to your inbox as soon as it’s completed!
A Final, Important Thing To Mention:
Accreditation is expensive. HBEEA charges $450 for new families, and it’s $400 a year to renew (every school year). These prices are different for families with only PSEO students, but otherwise, it’s $400 no matter how many students you have. That’s quite a price tag. It feels very worth it to me, for all that comes with it, but I understand that it might be a deal-breaker for a lot of people.
If you have more questions for me about why I decided to accredit, please contact me!
However, if you have questions about the actual accreditation process, what it looks like in your state, or anything else like that, please call HBEAA directly, as I am not authorized to speak for them in any way and can only speak to my personal experience with this process.