Do you know what is ACTUALLY required to graduate high school?

I’m not exactly sure what happened.  Maybe Thanksgiving.  I know that every year for the last decade, I have had an influx of new clients at this time of year and I usually attribute it to a combination of “so this is no longer a matter of adjusting to the classroom” and talking about their plight with lots of people they see over the holidays.

And the concerns are often the same, but generally unfounded when you find out what is legally required to graduate high school.  Guess what?  It’s SO. MUCH. LESS. than you think.

Last week I met with a mother that withdrew her 9th grader from school last week and this mom was in buckle-down-mode trying to find accredited resources for her daughter to be educated.  People, I totally bit my tongue and bypassed talking about the need to deschool.  And by the way, I have received referrals from to no less than FIVE mothers of 9th graders in 3 days.  I’m not even kidding.

But this mother was looking for accredited courses because her daughter would presumably be returning to her high school in the fall and the school will only transcript or credit her if she had taken accredited courses.

The conversation started with wanting to know why she needs the school to transcript these things?  Answer:  because she needs the diploma to go to college.

Ummmm… no, actually she doesn’t.

*mind. blown*

Continue with conversation about how to use the transcripted high school classes to create a parent-issued diploma and discuss the reality that colleges DO know how to evaluate homeschoolers and add the desirability of homeschooled students to colleges.  Note that this parent should ask the school whether her child would be included in graduation ceremonies (with a fake scroll–which is done for other kids for all manner of reasons, including needing to make up credits in summer school) before finalizing a decision about the school issuing a diploma.

Onward… let’s say you want to pursue the school-issued diploma.  What do you do with the 9th grade year?  Well, first, let’s talk about what is REQUIRED to graduate high school legally.  In Illinois its:

  • 4 years of language arts;
  • 2 years of writing-intensive courses, one year of which must be offered as an English language arts course and may be counted toward meeting one year of the four-year English language arts requirement. The writing courses may be counted toward the fulfillment of other state graduation requirements, when applicable, if writing-intensive content is provided in a subject area other than English language arts;
  • 3 years of mathematics, one of which must be Algebra 1 and one of which must include geometry content;
  • 2 years of science;
  • 2 years of social studies, of which at least one year must be the history of the United States or a combinationof the history of the United States and American government; and
  • 1 year chosen from any of the following:
    • art;
    • music;
    • foreign language, which shall include American Sign Language; and vocational education.

So realistically, this student only needs to have an accredited Language Arts course this year.  She can easily make up the rest while attending the school for grades 10-12 without too much effort.  This mother was initially stunned and as we discussed this more, she was incredibly relieved.  The pressure was off.

We talked about the direction her child thought she might be headed in, what kind of education that might require beyond high school (it’s a field where college is actually beneficial) and how to determine what she would REALLY need to get into college for that family of majors (hint:  they generally post it on their website!).  We then discussed ways her child could work towards standing out to admissions rep for her chosen path including what she could do TODAY to help herself with not a great deal of effort.

We chatted for a bit over an hour and mom was still a little surprised when we left; but pleasantly surprised.

Folks, for the most, the schools in the United States work towards one end-goal:  college.  They generally don’t look favorably on anything else although they acknowledge the existence of vocational programs.  I’ve never seen vocational programs suggested to any kid unless they were failing on the college path.  Which is ironic because in the trades, you still have to have your crap together.  It requires a DIFFERENT intelligence, but intelligence none-the-less.  Same for vaccinations:  the full federal vaccine schedule is not usually what is required to attend school.  In my state, Rotavirus and Hepatitis A are not required; flu and HPV are not required (although districts locally try to enforce this) and the rest are not required in the timeframes on the federal recommended schedule (leaving room for parents to delay and reduce vaccines until the majority of brain growth is done around age 2 and maternal antibodies from birth are flushed out around 18-24 months old).

Question stuff.  Do your research.  That’s all I’m saying.


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