Accreditation was originally started for post-secondary education institutions, basically colleges and universities, to ensure they all met basic standards. The government did not want to be directly in charge, so it allowed private agencies to form that followed federal requirements and were nationally approved by the Department of Education. Over time, it became necessary to use the same standards but at the lower levels especially high school. The purpose is to make it easier for students to switch schools when necessary and have a reasonable expectation that they will receive the equivalent education and not have a large gap in knowledge. It is especially beneficial when crossing state lines to attend a new school that is under different laws.
Secondly, schools may not have to receive accreditation depending on the state’s requirement, so it would be based on the institution’s choice or the state may offer incentives to schools that go through private agencies to obtain this. The accreditation process starts with a request from the school, whereupon a team is assigned to visit and review the school’s curriculum, teaching approach and other factors that pertain to student/teacher interaction. Once a school is accredited, they must renew the certificate every so often based on the agency’s guidelines, so it is not a ‘one time’ process but a continuation of good practices. This feature is one way in which parents can have peace of mind that their student is receiving a quality level of education that will help them in the future.
Since it’s not a mandatory requirement across all schools, parents can find accredited homeschooling programs through an online search as well as those who have not gone through this process. It is their choice to enroll students in either program – accredited or non-accredited -- based on their agreement with the curriculum, teaching level, technology, and budget. It is important to note that students can receive a solid education from a school that has not been accredited but the long-term impacts need to be considered especially before they enter into the high school years.
One of the primary purposes of accreditation is providing reliability of information listed on formal education documents such as the transcript. High schools and colleges should be able to look at a transcript from the school, see that it is accredited and accept the credits as ‘valid’ or meeting standard requirements for entrance into their program. When a student enrolls in a school without the accreditation, it’s not an automatic denial from the other school but the process could take longer if they have to verify the veracity of the courses and instruction. Accreditation reduces the complexity of the overall admissions process so that students benefit from the result.
Parents want the best education for their children which is why they should find accredited homeschooling options to review and compare before making a decision. Accountability is important when it comes to a student’s education because it ensures the program will have the best intentions towards helping students succeed in their studies and providing a return on the investment that parents make in choosing this option.
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