Friday, April 26, 2013

Documenting Your Learning

Documenting Your Learning--Diploma, GED, or Portfolio?

Whether you are an unschooler or school-at-homer following a prescribed curriculum, if you plan to attend a college, conservatory, service academy, or trade school when you're "done" with high school, you will need to document your learning as part of the application process. The best way to learn about any particular school's application requirements is to visit that school's website, but most schools will ask for some combination of these types of documentation:
               Diploma, GED, or Portfolio
               Standardized Test Scores
               Grades from Community College or Online Classes
               Reading List
               Recommendations--Personal and Academic
Over the next few weeks, I'll write a little about each type of documentation, but this blog post focuses on Diploma/GED/Portfolio.

Accredited post-secondary schools generally require either a state-endorsed diploma or a GED or a portfolio from their homeschooled applicants.


There are 2 general paths to a state-endorsed diploma
enroll in and complete the requirements of a non-NJ accredited high school such as Clonlara School's Home Based Education Program (Michigan) or
if you are over 16, you can earn a NJ state-endorsed diploma by completing the Thirty College Credit Program. This path includes 30 General Education credits taken at an accredited college and earning a sufficient score on an assessment exam such as Accuplacer/SAT/ACT.


General Educational Development (GED) Tests may be taken by those 16 and older (16-17 year olds need a parent's permission). The GED examines reading, writing, social studies, science, and mathematics skills. This path can also yield a NJ state endorsed diploma. The GED is currently a paper-only exam, but in Jan. 2014, the testing format will switch to computer-only.


If you don't choose to seek a diploma from an accredited source or to take the GED, you'll want to compile a portfolio. A portfolio is basically a representative sample of work you've done in high school. It can be paper or electronic (e.g. a website), and its contents will vary according to the post-secondary school's requirements, your areas of interest during high school, and your intended course of study--students who want to study art, music, engineering, or history would each want to highlight different content in their learning portfolios.

New Jersey Homeschool Law

If you're new to homeschooling, or new to homeschooling in NJ, you'll want to familiarize yourself with the law. With no notification requirements, no curriculum oversight, and no mandatory testing, New Jersey's homeschoolers enjoy perhaps the most lenient atmosphere in the U.S. The compulsory school law states:
Every parent, guardian or other person having custody and control of a child between the ages of six and 16 years shall cause such child regularly to attend the public schools of the district or a  day school in which there is given instruction equivalent to that provided in the public schools for children of similar grades and attainments or to receive equivalent instruction elsewhere than at school.   N.J.S.A. 18A:38-25
The italicized bit,  or to receive equivalent instruction elsewhere than at school, is what permits homeschoolers to homeschool. Over the last 15 or so years, there have been several attempts by NJ state legislators to change the law by either increasing the age of compulsory attendance or increasing the State's oversight capacity. 
The New Jersey Homeschool Association monitors the legislative agenda and informs the homeschooling community about proposed changes to homeschooling law.