I hear a lot of questions about accreditation from homeschooling parents who want to know that their children are getting the highest quality education possible. You might even hear—or read—other parents talking about choosing an accredited curriculum for their children. But for homeschool families, accreditation doesn’t usually apply directly. So what’s accreditation all about, and how does it relate to your homeschool?
What Is Accreditation?
There are actually lots of types of accreditation—for food safety, for healthcare, and even for translation. An organization, group, or individual is considered accredited after it has passed an inspection by a group of qualified experts.
In other words, accreditation just means quality assurance. The type of accreditation most of us are familiar with is educational accreditation for schools at the college or high school level and below. For a school to become accredited, it pays an accreditation agency to do a review. You can find a lot of information about educational accreditation, including a list of accrediting agencies, on the Department of Education website.
So when you hear someone talking about educational accreditation, what they’re referring to is a brick-and-mortar institution. In some cases, they might be referring to an online learning program that is part of a school. Accreditation agencies don’t review textbooks specifically.
How Can You Get Homeschool Accreditation?
As I said earlier, for homeschoolers accreditation doesn’t usually apply directly. When a school requests a review, that agency will assess teacher qualifications, program quality, and current standards. So you can see how it doesn’t directly apply to a homeschool situation—unless you wanted to pay for a review. But that can amount to several thousand dollars.
However, there are some circumstances when it can apply to homeschool families. For instance, if you join an accredited homeschool academy, such as Bridgeway Academy or an umbrella school in your area, then your homeschooler can earn a diploma from an accredited organization.
If, on the other hand, you’re homeschooling independently, then your homeschool won’t be considered accredited. The textbooks you’re using have nothing to do with it. It depends completely on the group that issues your child’s diploma.
Is It Worth It?
Depending on the direction your child is going, accreditation can be an important piece of the puzzle. Being a member of an accredited organization while you’re homeschooling means that you have someone else backing you up. While some may require you to use a specific curriculum, others let you choose from a list of approved materials, meaning that you can still use your choice of textbooks. Additionally, the organization will take care of all your reporting and transcript needs. And if your student is college-bound, accreditation may be something he or she needs for admission to the college of choice.
On the other hand, going for homeschool accreditation might be like buying brand-name merchandise instead of choosing an off-brand product. Sure, the packaging on the one is prettier, but all the ingredients are just the same, so why pay more for the well-known name? Of course, we’re talking about your child’s education, not your grocery list. So aside from the price, what else should you know about accredited organizations? To begin with, joining an organization can mean giving up many of the freedoms that you cherish as an independent homeschooling family. Not all accredited organizations will let you have your choice of textbooks. Depending on the regulations of the organization, you might not even be able to set your own daily schedule.
You may want to do additional research about homeschool accreditation and the pros and cons of guaranteeing an accredited diploma. If you’d like to pursue accreditation for your children and use BJU Press textbooks, please contact a HomeWorks by Precept Consultant in your area.