Finding an accredited homeschool program may be high on your list of priorities if you want to give your children a high-quality homeschool education. But pursuing accreditation may not be the best option if you are looking for an affordable homeschool program or more freedom for your homeschool. Accredited homeschool programs have advantages and disadvantages to consider when choosing the best homeschool program for your family. Choosing a homeschool program or curriculum is no small decision, and we’re here to help provide answers to your accreditation concerns.
What are accredited homeschool programs?
Accredited homeschool programs are organizations that have been reviewed by an accreditation agency like Cognia or MSA CESS. The accreditation agency reviews the standards and policies of an organization applying for accreditation, and if they meet the requirements, the agency grants accreditation. Accreditation provides quality assurance for your child’s education.
Accreditation agencies base their standards on national or state education requirements. When they review an educational program, they look at the following criteria:
- Whether the program teaches standards-based academic objectives
- Whether the educators use best practices
- Whether the students are developing and meeting objectives
To receive accreditation for your homeschool, you would need to be enrolled in an accredited organization that will be much more involved in your homeschool experience.
Accredited homeschool programs offer you a mark that tells colleges, scholarship programs, and future employers that you have met their academic standards in your home. They can be at risk for fraud if they don’t keep track of what you accomplish in your homeschool.
Accredited Homeschool Programs Available to You
You have several options for accrediting your homeschool. Some curriculum publishers run internal organizations that provide the monitoring and record-keeping services required for accreditation. You may also be able to participate in an accredited umbrella school—a private school that oversees your homeschool—to complete your homeschool journey. You may not consider distance learning at a public or private school a “real” homeschool experience, but it is another way to obtain educational accreditation at home.
Accredited Homeschool Program Options
- The Academy of Home Education (BJU Press)—Christian
- Abeka Academy—Christian
- Bridgeway Academy (various curricula)—Secular or Christian
- Forest Trail Academy (various curricula) —Secular or Christian
Accredited Christian Homeschool Programs
You’ve probably found lists of “accredited homeschool programs” online that actually include Christian homeschool curriculum publishers like BJU Press, Abeka, Monarch, or Sonlight. The truth is none of these companies can publish accredited homeschool curriculum. But some offer accredited academies that work alongside the curriculum, like the Academy of Home Education for BJU Press and Abeka Academy.
Why aren’t homeschool curriculum accredited?
Simply put, homeschool curriculum, which include textbooks, DVDs, online lessons, and other materials, aren’t accredited because they can’t be. Few curriculum publishers have programs in place to monitor teaching quality and success. Without monitoring, they can’t offer accreditation. Most homeschool families purchase their curriculum directly from curriculum publishers. It’s like buying a new phone directly from the manufacturer. That phone would not come with a connection to a service provider; your phone service comes from a different company.
Is BJU Press Homeschool accredited?
BJU Press is a curriculum publisher with parent-led and video course options, not a homeschool accreditation program. However, we offer enrollment with The Academy of Home Education, an accredited option for parents who want to use our materials and receive educational accreditation.
The Academy of Home Education has partnered with Bridgeway and Cognia to offer accredited record-keeping services, academic counseling, and college and career options. Members of The Academy of Home Education (or the AHE) are required to use BJU Press materials for all core academic disciplines—English language arts, math, history, science, and Bible—and can receive accreditation with either the parent-led or the video course options. Members pursuing accreditation are required to submit their students’ tests, essays, and project rubrics so the AHE can meet monitoring requirements based on expectations from our partners and provide accurate and effective academic council. The AHE also offers non-accredited record-keeping services that do not require test and essay submission.
Does your homeschool need to be accredited?
No, homeschool accreditation is not required because no state requires participation in an accredited homeschool program. However, high schools, scholarships, and universities may require an accredited transcript for acceptance. You should consider what your child intends to do either during or after high school to determine if accreditation should be a consideration for your homeschool.
Is my homeschool program accredited or non-accredited?
You can quickly determine if your homeschool organization is accredited by checking your homeschool program’s website or talking with a representative. The program’s website should list an accreditation agency. You can confirm the accreditation agency’s legitimacy by going to its website or comparing it against the U. S. Department of Education’s list of school-level accreditation agencies that have been recognized by states and other authorities and are legitimate. However, the list has not been updated since 2008, so some agencies, like Cognia or Christian accreditation agencies like SCACS or ACSI, may not be represented on that list.
If your homeschool program offers accreditation, it should have strict reporting requirements for grading tests, essays, and academic projects. It should also require yearly standardized testing, and it should be actively using test results to monitor how your children are performing in their homeschool education.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Homeschool Accreditation
As with most homeschooling choices, there are pros and cons to pursuing accreditation. Not choosing accreditation can have long-term effects on your child’s education, while choosing accreditation can have an immediate impact.
- Academic excellence—With the rigorous expectations given by accrediting agencies, pursuing accreditation ensures your child receives an excellent education and assures you that your child will be equipped for future academic challenges.
- Recognition—An accredited transcript or diploma can make it easier for your child to be accepted into high-value programs or scholarships. As homeschooling gains acceptance, many schools have made it possible to accept students without proof of accreditation. But in some cases, especially when applying to an international school, it is still required. This recognition is especially important for high school students, as high school students receive the most academic scrutiny.
- Grade reports and transcripts—accredited programs provide you with grade reports, a formal diploma, or a formal transcript for your child’s education so you won’t need to issue or create those items yourself. Additionally, if you live in a state that has reporting requirements for homeschool families, your accredited homeschool program can help you meet those requirements.
- Less freedom—Partnering with another organization beyond your curriculum publisher may mean giving up some freedoms. Some organizations may require a specific curriculum (as in the case of accredited homeschool programs associated with a specific curriculum publisher). All require grade reporting, which may be problematic if you prefer not to track grades at certain age levels. Additionally, grade reporting requirements often mean you have less flexibility in your schedule and approach to a curriculum. You may not be able to cut out material freely, and you may need to arrange your homeschool around your program’s reporting calendar.
- Limited availability—Dedicated homeschooling programs have only recently begun gaining accreditation, so there are only a few to help you with it. Most accreditation agencies only review brick-and-mortar schools, and it’s difficult or impossible for homeschool families to meet the expectations of an agency or to be monitored effectively. Often, pursuing accreditation may mean partnering with a public or private school that offers distance learning or serves as a homeschool umbrella, but these options might not align with your goals as a homeschool family.
- Cost—Accreditation will increase the overall cost of your homeschool, as the organization offering accreditation will require payments in addition to the cost of your curriculum.
Are accredited homeschool programs affordable?
Whether or not an accredited homeschool program is affordable for your family depends on your family’s budget and homeschooling style. If you believe you need accreditation and are searching for affordable accredited homeschool programs, remember you will always need to factor in an additional cost for an accredited program, and that cost will increase when your children enter high school. Your accredited program may include the cost of your curriculum, or it can be an additional cost to your curriculum. That additional cost can be tens of dollars to several hundreds of dollars more.
Costs of Accredited Homeschool Programs
With some accredited programs, prices vary depending on your style of teaching and your choice of used or new textbooks. Accredited programs range in cost from between $1,074 and $5,395 for a single student in Grade 1–12 for a full year of core courses with all new materials. The Academy of Home Education ranges from $1,391.45 and $1,552, including the cost of all new materials.
Accreditation from The Academy of Home Education
What you receive by enrolling with the Academy of Home Education’s accredited program goes far beyond record-keeping services. We promise a hands-on, compassionate, and responsive level of support for your homeschool journey. Our class trip and graduation ceremony options are unique to the AHE experience. Here’s what we offer:
- Full support from experienced homeschool guidance counselors
- Monitoring for changes and struggles with standardized tests and regular test and essay scores
- Accredited transcripts and diplomas created and sent by the AHE
- Eligibility to participate in a junior class trip (all expenses paid outside of initial travel costs)
- Eligibility to participate in a graduation ceremony (expenses paid for ceremony, diploma, and banquets)
- Opportunities to connect with classmates and other homeschool parents
- Opportunities to participate in a homeschool yearbook
- Flexibility in your schedule and teaching approach
Are any free?
No, there are no free accredited programs that are true homeschool programs. Public schools like Connections Academy are able to offer free accredited online school, but this is not a true homeschool program. Any accredited homeschool program performs a service (most often record keeping) in addition to providing your homeschool curriculum. They also provide academic and college and career counseling and monitor your child’s progress and development to guarantee educational goals and objectives are met at home.
Is accreditation worth it?
To decide once and for all whether accreditation should be a key component for your homeschool, you need to evaluate your personal goals for your homeschool journey and consider where you might be in the future and what goals your children might pursue. If accreditation simply doesn’t fit your financial needs or meet your personal goals, you don’t need to pursue it and have other options. Plenty of higher learning organizations welcome homeschoolers without educational accreditation.
Learn more about accredited enrollment with the Academy of Home Education by connecting with a homeschool consultant at 864-770-1315 or [email protected].
Hi this school year we started our son to homeschool at Time4learning, so far we like it but I’m not sure if we did the right decision yet. See, my son is very active in Golf and playing almost every day so he can be best at it. With Homeschool he can travel playing golf leagues and study wherever the Golf tournaments take him with my husband. As for me I check all the daily activities and so far he’s doing great at it. I’m just not sure if Time4learning is the right choice for us. Any suggestions?
Hi Amanda, thank you for your question! Yes, working with the Academy of Home Education would be very similar to what you have experienced with our program before. The AHE will not add scheduling requirements for completing lessons and material outside of having set times to submit semester and quarterly grade reports. If you follow a non-traditional schedule (year-round or block) you would just need to work with the AHE to confirm when you will need to submit your grade reports and test scores before you get started.
Amanda Globke says
Our daughter is finishing up 6th grade BJU curriculum. We homeschool because she is a competitive gymnast and is in the gym training 5-6 hours a day. Her gym has a homeschool program that most of the girls use, but it is a public school curriculum. They use I University Prep and Texas Connection Academy. Starting this fall, our daughter will be at the gym from 8am-6pm. She will have a 3 hour break and that is when the girls do their homeschool lessons. They log in online with whatever curriculum they are using, but from what I understand, they work at their own pace and the curriculums are accredited. Is this how The Academy of Home Education is? Can they work at their own pace each day or do they have to log in at specific times? We are looking into this early on, but not definitely needing accredited at this time. Not worried about it until she gets into 9th-12th. The only reason why we want accredited at that point is our daughter wants to sign with LSU and compete for them in college. She has never gone to a public school and was in a private Christian school from kinder-2nd. We homeschooled for 3rd grade, she went back to private school for 4th, but then realized how demanding her gymnastics schedule was, so we homeschooled for 5th & 6th.
My husband & I have homeschooled our 3 sons over the past 9 years. Due to dyslexia with our oldest I had to change curriculums many times to find what would work. There’s no way I could have used an accredited program for him. I really wanted to, thinking that I must for them to be able to go to college. Our oldest graduated in May of this year! What I’ve learned is that a homeschool portfolio is important, do that every year of high school. I’ve also learned that the SAT or ACT weighs heavy. Even though my oldest didn’t score well on of his SATs, he still was able to get a scholarship (Georgia Hope Grant) to a local community college. He is now finishing his first semester. After staying at home & experiencing a public low end college, he’s decided and been accepted to attend at Pensacola Christian College in Florida. They offer a great Christian college at a low cost. They are a working campus where students can pay off their tuition by working on campus while attending school there. There’s a high percent of children from missionary families that attend there also. One other amazing offer at PCC is that if you put $500 down before they start their freshman year, then their 4th year is FREE!
Dont fret… there’s not only one way to educate and let God carry the rest for you!
Amarilys Vega says
Thank you for the information, I subscribed to BJU because my kids are using this curriculum in their school, but lately, I have thinking to homeschool them. I do not live in the USA, and I don’t know how the accreditation works for people outside of the USA. I’m just concerned if they will not be accepted to local universities if they don’t have a diploma from a school.
I know people from other countries that homeschool their kids, but I don’t know how it works for locals like me, I’m Panamanian. When I was in India, I used to homeschool my kids, but in my country, there is no law that says if it is legal or illegal, and I didn’t hear of anyone that after homeschool, they have sent their children to a local school or university.
If anyone has some information about this kind of cases, please let me know. Thank you! God bless you!