Record Keeping for the High School Years Part I
- Thursday, August 09, 2001
In almost every home-school meeting we have led, we have been probed by anxious parents who are concerned about how to keep records. Many are daunted by the need to keep track of their child's progress, while others are spending an inordinate amount of their time recording every minute of their days. Many states require certain forms of records to satisfy their home-schooling laws. In that case, it is important to be aware of the laws that apply to your family and keep records that will provide needed verification of your home school. Our discussion of record keeping, however, will be more specifically focused on how to retain the right information to insure a smooth transition into adulthood.
It is essential that parents keep accurate records of all work completed, as well as an account of extracurricular activities. Many resources are available to aid with keeping good records. Really, it is up to the parents to find the system that works best in their family. Our goal is to address what records need to be retained rather than what system to use, however we will be sure to share ideas that have been especially helpful to us. Your goal is to keep records that will enable your student to venture on to the future of his choice.
Permanent records are definitely necessary for grades nine through twelve, but we recommend that you keep your junior high records as well.
· Course grades and credits
In high school, it is important to record the credits or units that each class is worth. Traditional high schools usually report credits as Carnegie units. College admissions departments are accustomed to seeing transcripts that reflect Carnegie units. In a traditional setting, one Carnegie unit represents 120 hours of instruction in the classroom, plus assignments and study. In other words, one credit is awarded for each full-year class (40 minutes per day times 180 days). One-semester courses are one-half credit. Some classes only meet two to three times per week (like gym, or music lessons) and are awarded a fraction such as one-quarter credit.
We can hear you mothers mumbling now. We know; unless you use video curriculum, it is highly unlikely that you have 40 minutes of classroom instruction plus assignments for each high school class. Consider this, though. You also do not need to take attendance each period, deal with thirty students of varying levels of understanding and discipline at one time, hand out and collect papers, make announcements, etc. As we have stated before, the home tutorial method of teaching is simply much more efficient. You can go quickly through material the student comprehends well, and spend more time on difficult areas. So, the Carnegie unit may not be a very accurate representation of class time for you. You simply will be able to complete more in a shorter (usually much shorter) amount of time.
The key is to translate the credits your child earns into a form that is understandable to you and to admissions departments. In that traditional class, a certain amount of material is covered in a year. Most courses, for instance, will strive to cover at least 80% of a high- school-level textbook. Alternatively, they may need to pass mid-term and final exams that cover the scope of the course. So, if your student studies through a textbook and can demonstrate (through tests, projects, contract work, essays, etc.) that he or she has grasped a majority of the material, you can feel confident in awarding one credit for that course.
Some schools simply award half-a-credit for each semester of work in a subject, disregarding the 120-hour rule. Whatever system you use should correspond to ones used by traditional schools and expected by college admissions offices. Be sure to explain your method of awarding credit in a note on the transcript. As a general rule, to graduate high school will require twenty units (some schools or states may require slightly more or less).
After saying all that, we should warn you that some colleges will not even want your transcript. Many are now admitting home schoolers with SAT or ACT scores alone, or on the basis of a portfolio. Make sure to check with the school for their specific requirements.
Next, we will discuss some tools to track your childs progress, how to determine GPA, and a few thoughts about standardized test results. If you want to get going on record keeping, check out our Grand Plan materials or our book, The Guidance Manual for the Christian Home School: A Parents Guide for Preparing Home School Students for College or Career on our Web site at www.davidandlaurie.com.
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