In 2022, homeschooled kids counted for around 7% of the school-age population (that’s approximately 3.7 million young people) and achieved 15-30% higher scores, on average, on tests than their traditionally-schooled counterparts. The rate of homeschooling is currently increasing by 7% to 15% annually.
It’s clear, therefore, that it’s becoming increasingly common for parents to choose to educate their kids at home for a wide variety of reasons. For those who do choose this route, there are vital decisions to make regarding how a curriculum will be delivered to ensure that children receive the depth and breadth of education they need. Many homeschooling parents opt to use accredited homeschool programs to make sure all the bases are covered educationally and to deliver a great, consistent learning experience to their kids.
What are Accredited Homeschool Programs?
Homeschool programs are designed for parents who want to educate their children at home rather than sending them to a school. If a program is accredited, this means it has been subject to outside inspection and review by an accredited body, which has audited its procedures, policies, curriculum, and expectation and approved them.
Accreditation is about setting high standards, ensuring quality, and promoting consistency to make the homeschool environment as positive and effective as possible.
How Does Accreditation Affect Homeschooling?
While choosing a homeschool program that has achieved accreditation is not legally required for schooling your child at home, there are many compelling advantages to choosing an accredited program, and we cover some of these below.
Currently, it’s not mandatory in any state for a homeschool program, diploma, or curriculum to be accredited. Institutes of higher learning generally do not generally require this, either.
Why Should I Choose an Accredited Homeschool Program?
There are lots of compelling reasons to choose an accredited option. The best-accredited homeschool programs can deliver these benefits:
- Peace of mind that the homeschooling program is of high quality and has been independently audited.
- Your homeschooling rights are safeguarded.
- Less pressure regarding record-keeping, reporting, and transcripts, as much of this work, will be done automatically.
- Access to accredited transcripts.
- Ability to seamlessly integrate back into a traditional school if relevant.
- Measurable success rates.
For parents, the main advantage of choosing an accredited homeschool program is the assurance that it will cover all the curriculum bases necessary and provide a high-quality, wide-ranging, and engaging learning experience for children.
Further, an accredited program may allow young people to access NCAA funding or other types of scholarships that are reserved for pupils attending accredited organizations. Some colleges and universities won’t consider homeschool courses unless they’re accredited.
What are the Different Types of Accreditation?
Not all accreditation is the same, and it’s important to understand the different types to select the best homeschool program for you and your child.
Many states and local governments recognize regional accrediting bodies, and the USDE (United States Department of Education) doesn’t recognize any other accrediting bodies regarding grades K to 12. Of all the accrediting organizations, regional accreditation is usually the most robust, requiring the highest standards, and tends to carry the most weight with colleges and universities.
Regional accrediting bodies include:
- Middle States Association
- New England Association
- North Central Association
- Southern Association
- Western Association
State and private schools sometimes join together to form their own independent accrediting bodies. Although the USDE does not officially recognize them, they often carry significant weight within their home states. Their requirements usually revolve around state requirements and standards.
Christian / Religious Accreditation
Many Christian private schools opt for a private, Christian accrediting body. Typically, this accreditation is only recognized by a small number of states and carries significantly less weight than regional accreditation. None are recognized by the USDE.
Many colleges and universities, however, do accept transcripts and diplomas from these private religious accrediting bodies.
What is the Accreditation Process?
The accreditation process is a challenging one for organizations and is usually made up of the following stages:
- Self-assessment – which is then reviewed by the accrediting body.
- Candidacy – the organization is considered by the accrediting body.
- Site review – the accrediting body conducts a site review, inspects all documentation, conducts interviews, undertakes class/course visits, and analyzes business processes.
- The final judgment – the organization will either be accepted or rejected for accreditation. If the decision is the latter, the organization will receive details of the areas that need improvement before another application for accreditation can be made.
As part of the process, it’s mandatory that the organization accepting accreditation makes every aspect of its educational and business processes available for review.
Why Choose an Accredited Homeschool Program? Final Thoughts
While there’s no legal requirement for the homeschool program you choose to be accredited, many parents do opt for accredited programs of study for their kids. The main reason for this is the assurance that it will deliver a consistently high-quality program of learning and offer a positive, engaging experience.
If you would like to go with a regionally accredited homeschool program, check with your local, regional accrediting body to ensure the organization has accreditation in place for peace of mind before signing up.