Transcripts You Can Create At Home
Transcript Boot Camp and Transcript Pro provide answers and a simple organized method for forecasting and reporting courses and credits during the high school years.
By Suzanne Reid
One of the major obstacles to homeschooling through high school is preparing high school transcripts and maintaining scholastic records. Parents who have successfully home educated their child through the eighth grade suddenly freeze up when they consider homeschooling through high school. In the words of a wise mentor, and dear friend, Res Peters, of Idaho Coalition of Home Educators, "Why would anyone give up homeschooling in the high school years? These are the years when a homeschool parent reaps the beautiful fruit of all of the previous hard years of labor."
For many, the answer might be FEAR. Fear that they don't know where to begin in planning the high school years, or how to proceed. Fear that at the end of high school, their student will not have a transcript, nor graduate.
What if these fears were replaced with hope and excitement about the high school years? What if you had evidence that homeschoolers with beautifully organized transcripts were well received by colleges and offered scholarships? What if you had a plan outlining the courses your child would study during the high school years? Wouldn't you be like the Proverbs 31 woman, who smiles at the future? You would have confidence to go forth in the Lord through the high school years. You would receive the blessings of the seed you had sewn in the earlier years, as my friend had suggested. And, like the Proverbs 31 woman, your children will rise up and bless you.
Inge Cannon of Education PLUS provides the hope for this successful and fruitful season of high school. Inge and her husband, Dr. Ronald Jay Cannon, have developed several homeschool products, designed to encourage and train parents in the skills of home tutoring. Two of her products are the subjects of this article-Transcript Boot Camp and Transcript Pro.
Drawing from fifteen years of elementary and high school teaching experience, seven years as principal of a private school and day care center, eight years of intensive work in curriculum development, and five years of federal lobbying work on behalf of home educators, Inge understands what intimidates homeschool parents about teaching high school. She is intimately aware of the weaknesses among homeschool families, and she provides thoughtful suggestions and tips on pitfalls to avoid. Additionally, she has organized and simplified the process of planning and recording our students' high school courses, that if followed, will bring glory to God, ease our worries, and present our students with polish before college admission boards.
Transcript Boot Camp
Transcript Boot Camp is a four-part, four-hour DVD seminar for parents and their students regarding teaching junior and senior high school students at home. For $79, parents receive two DVDs of the four sessions and one CD of a downloadable 76-page syllabus, all contained within a storage case, which shelves nicely. Inge says the best time to prepare for this course is when a child turns eleven. Yet at any age, this course will help you prepare your child for college.
The seminar covers a gamut of issues most homeschoolers question, and some haven't yet thought to question. Session one deals with diplomas, accreditation, graduation, forms and format, academic history. Session two covers grades, Carnegie units, textbook equivalency, and time logs. Session three includes curriculum tips, class rank, grade point average and weighted grades. Session four contains extracurricular activities, test scores, privileged information, vital attachments, portfolios and resumes.
Diplomas, Accreditation, Graduation, Forms and Format, Academic History
Inge argues we need to provide our children with a transcript. Often parents will say that their children are not going to college, but documenting their course studies and preparing a transcript as the child completes the work is a necessary part of homeschooling, should the child decide to go to college years later.
If your child is college bound, Inge recommends checking with the admissions office(s) of the school(s) of your choice to identify their requirements. Transcripts are useful for trade schools, and fine arts or vocational schools. She says planning a graduation and issuing a diploma is an important final step in the educational process, supported by the evidence provided in a complete transcript.
She discusses the process of accreditation. Unlike what most of us think, not all public schools are accredited. The process takes years for a school to accomplish, and it means the education is standard from student to student. She argues that home education is tutorial, and not standard, and thus contradicts the very idea of accreditation.
In this first session, Inge reviews the ingredients of a good transcript. Using a sample transcript from Transcript Pro as model, she walks the parent step by step through the necessary bits of information that colleges require from a transcript. Additionally, she provides tips to parents that improve their communication with college admissions boards.
During this discussion of how to prepare a transcript, Inge reviews the different theories regarding typical high school requirements. Basically, parents can duplicate their state's secondary requirements, which very slightly from state to state. Or, parents can determine their own personal requirements for graduation. After all, we are talking about homeschooling here. She recommends simply planning your requirements and certifying those in your transcripts.
Minimum graduation requirements for conventional high schools are the following: 3-4 units of English; 2-3 units of math; 1-2 units of science (biology required); 2 units of history (US History required); 2 units of physical education; 1 unit of fine arts—music, visual arts, speech and or drama; 3+ units of electives, foreign language, business ed, computer science, home economics; 1 unit per year of Bible or religious studies, NT survey, OT survey. These units are Carnegie units, which Inge describes in detail in this session. Essentially, one Carnegie unit is worth 36 weeks of study for 5 sessions a week at 45-50 minutes per session. Inge briefly addresses other methods of calculating time in this section and the benefits of the Carnegie system.
Grading and Carnegie Units
Inge explains that parents often struggle with grading because they don't know the original goal of a course. They are uncertain of the educational objectives and so don't know how to gauge whether the student achieved and completed the educational task. She recommends purchasing the teacher's manual to the curriculum. It gives goals and objectives and does the work for you.
Evaluating students and assigning grades is difficult for parents, but also for teachers. Inge provides reprints of articles in the syllabus, which discusses the struggles of conventional teachers with evaluation. Regardless, children need to know the criteria for achieving certain grades to know how to succeed. You need to assign a quality evaluation for each subject. Most use A, B, C, etc. You can employ an alternate scale, such as 1, 2, 3, etc.; however, if you do, you also need to provide an addendum to your transcript that explains your system. Never use pass/fail because it pulls it down the student's grade point average. Inge explains this and Carnegie units in detail.
Transcripts are based on time. Inge discusses how and when we should log educational time. She offers an interesting reprint of an article revealing the true time allocated for schooling in the typical public school. After accounting for absenteeism, discipline, teachers in training, and etc, the 180 days of 6 hours, which equals 1,080 hours, is whittled down to 364 hours per school year. If you divide that by 6 classes, that's 60 hours per school year for each subject and 1.685 hours per week for each subject.
Inge suggests different ways to log educational time. Textbook equivalency is a method using a high school book-simply completing 85% of the content for 1 Carnegie unit and 45% for a .5 unit, no matter the time it takes. Inge's Credit Pro card system is a set of 50 tabs that the student uses to log in time on a subject-once the required hours are completed the credit is given on the transcript. This system is excellent for extracurricular subjects. The Credit Pro, as all of the Cannons' materials, is available online at www.edplus.com.
Curriculum Tips, Class Rank, Grade Point Average and Weighted Grades
This session is full of many of Inge's wonderful tips from years of experience in education. She discusses curriculum tips for English, grammar, math, science, history, etc. One suggestion is to assign your student a 50-minute essay every week during the high school years. This is great for the new SAT writing section. Double headers is another suggestion, where your student is dually enrolled in college and high school and receives credit for both at the same time. Taking consumer mathematics is a wise decision for developing Godly stewardship. Most importantly, Inge recommends that your kids be well grounded in Scripture before they leave your home.
In discussing class rank, Inge states it is irrelevant in the homeschool tutorial model, but we do need to provide grade point average for our students. Here she discusses different scales for grading: the 3-point, 4-point and 5-point scales. She says that since the middle 80s most colleges have shifted to the 4-point scale, where A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0. This is the recognized grading scale and recommends using this scale. Inge thoroughly reviews how to compute grade point averages, GPAs; however, Inge's program Transcript Pro, an additional purchase, automatically computes GPA scores.
Inge explains the use of weighted grades. This is the process of assigning more value to a grade than the 4-point scale. Colleges do this for specialized courses that are more demanding by adding one point for an advanced placement course (AP course), or a college course taken during the high school years. Whenever you weight grades you need outside corroboration. Some colleges want unweighted for entrance and weighted for scholarships. Contact the colleges and find out what they want when applying.
Extracurricular Activities, Test Scores, Privileged Information, Vital Attachments, Portfolios and Resumes
This last session provides a wealth of information, which allows you to take the transcript to the next level. The simple transcript is a summary document with a two page maximum. The second page features the extracurricular activities, unique to your child. Here you cite honors and awards, list volunteer projects and outside jobs, and report scores from standardized achievement tests, ACTs and SATs.
Lastly, Inge discusses the benefits of creating a portfolio to give credentials to the skill development and educational evaluation represented in the transcript. Portfolios may include a huge variety of information selected to tell a unique story about the student. Make them personal by including the following: actual projects, such as major research papers and essays; art projects; photos of projects; tape recordings or video records of oral presentations, musical performances, and speeches; newspaper clippings about your child; an autobiography, or journaling that's not too intensively personal; and a resume.
Planning and documenting your child's high school courses is doable. Inge Cannon instructs you through the process gently and orderly. The format of the syllabus is graphically clean and easy to use, and the approach extremely organized and simple to follow. To purchase Transcript Boot Camp and the companion Transcript Pro, which is the formatted transcript program, go to www.edplus.com. You will gain confidence as Inge leads you through this process step by step, and you will "smile at the future."
Suzanne Reid is a former board member of ICHE and long-time home school mom. She and her husband home educated their two children from inception through high school graduation. Now that her children have completed college and are married, Suzanne is enjoying dating her husband and being a homeschool grandma. She has also returned to her graphic design business and is building websites for small business owners.