Not much progress may be being made on the mess in my classroom, but there is still a lot of planning getting done in my mind. My husband and I went to the Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency High School at Home conference last week. Try to say that five times fast! We decided that we will definitely be enrolling the boys in their program. In PA, homeschoolers can be granted a state recognized diploma from several different organizations. Each organization has slightly different requirements, but all meet the state requirements of four years of English, three years of math, science, and social studies, and two years of arts and humanities.
Here's how the PHAA program works. When JT is entering 9th grade, we will enroll him for the fee of $45. Each year of high school he will be required to track his progress in one of many ways. A credit can be granted by completing over two-thirds of a textbook, 120 daily logged entries, 120 hours of logged study, a ten page research paper, completed college course, completed audited AP course + exam, or any other creative way we can show his work. At the end of each school year, we will meet with our usual evaluator. She will review his work, grant credit for the classes, write a narrative report on his achievements, and send it all to PHAA for recording and approval. At the end of the four years, he will be granted a diploma, signed by the evaluator, the Executive Director of PHAA, and the supervisor of the home education, which would be me. We will pay a $55 fee and he will receive his diploma at an actual graduation ceremony. This diploma will allow him to qualify for PHEAA grants and loans. A transcript is created from the course work that the student has completed. This transcript can include letter grades or be just a pass or fail system. Letter grades are preferred in order to be able to calculate GPA for college admissions and scholarships. Transcripts can be sent to colleges for a $5 fee. The special thing about PHAA's program is that they will also send the narrative letters the evaluator wrote for each of the four years. The transcripts will also include any of the student's extra-curricular activities.
PHAA diplomas have a good name with many universities. One reason is their thorough English credit requirements. Each year the student must read at least 25 books, including three classified as classics. They must write at least four compositions, one being 10 pages or more. Those compositions must include rough drafts showing correction or work through over 1/4 of a language or grammar textbook. Finally, the student must give at least one speech during the year to a group outside the immediate family members. This attention to language has given PHAA a great reputation for producing great students.
One more thing that PHAA has available are their online AP courses. One of our sessions at the conference was a panel discussion by the teachers of the AP courses. Any homeschooler anywhere in the United States (and some abroad) can sign up for these classes. There is an actual application process, so they have high standards for these classes. It looks like a great program that I hope to have both of the boys participate in when they reach the appropriate level.
I really feel like this program will be a good fit for our family. The requirements are flexible, yet strict enough that I will have measurable goals to meet. Having the outside influence will help me to motivate the boys to get their work done and do it to a higher standard than they might have if they were only worried about my approval. I had been starting to worry a bit about how I was going to handle the boys' high school years. I'm no longer worried. In fact, I'm more excited than ever about the opportunities I see in their future.