Why the Right Accreditation is Critical for Online High SchoolsAugust 12, 2011
There are many different ways to teach and various methods for students to learn. The range of choices increases when a child reaches high school. Accreditation by a nationally recognized organization demonstrates that a level of standards is consistently offered by the accredited high school. This certification is required of almost all public high schools and must be maintained. Private and online high schools also seek out accreditation because it is an indication of quality and excellence and allows other educational institutions to recognize them and honor the high school and their credits.
High school accreditation is not federally mandated. It is a nongovernmental process used to evaluate programs for standards in education.[i] Many states, such as Utah[ii], however do require all of their public schools to be accredited by a recognized independent organization. Other states like Michigan set standards for accreditation through the State Board of Education but may also use school accreditation authorities recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.[iii]
Of course these organizations provide more than just a stamp of approval, they also provide a method for other schools and agencies to recognize and acknowledge that certain educational standards of quality have been met. When parents choose an accredited online high school for their home-schooled children they know that the credits earned will be accepted at public and some private high schools. This is important if they were to choose to transfer or return back to a brick or mortar school during part of their four year educational process. A high school diploma for an accredited school is also required at many universities and colleges.
It’s also important to remember that educational recognition is also required for many jobs. Many employers in the US will only hire individuals with high school degrees earned from accredited schools with certification from a recognized accrediting agency.[iv]
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM), a federal agency, aggressively works to keep diploma mill degrees from the federal workplace. “OPM has provided ongoing guidance to federal departments and agencies… making it clear that so-called ‘degrees’ from diploma mills will not be accepted for purposes of qualifying for federal positions, for student loan repayment, and for purposes of paying for employees to obtain college degrees.”[v]
Parents are encouraged to ask questions about the accrediting group when looking for accredited online high school. Not all accreditation agencies are recognized by federal or state educational departments, so it’s important to ask for the name of the accrediting agency and contact your state Department of Education to see which groups are recognized. Legitimate, quality online schools will be happy to share information about their accreditation with you.
Recognition is important, but quality is essential. When an online high school takes the time and effort to become accredited, they are also showing a level of professionalism and diligence which usually is an excellent indicator of the education they will provide. In the long run, taking your time to find an accredited online homeschool program for your high school students will pay off in many ways.
[i] – http://www2.ed.gov/students/prep/college/diplomamills/accreditation.html
[ii] – http://www.schools.utah.gov/curr/accred/default.htm
[iii] – http://www.lansingmichiganhomes.com/Schools/Glossary%20of%20Education%20terms%20from%20MDOE.pdf