All About Accreditation and HomeschoolSeptember 6, 2023
If you homeschool or have been researching homeschooling, you may have seen the word “accreditation” mentioned frequently. So, if you’re wondering what it means, how it works, and why it’s important, we’re going to give you everything you need to know about accreditation.
What Is Accreditation?
The technical definition: Accreditation is a process by which private educational institutions are evaluated against established standards to ensure a high level of educational quality. The definition most parents want to hear: Accreditation is a method of differentiating schools that uphold consistent academic standards from those that do not. And that’s very important to know when you’re searching for the right homeschool or other institution.
How Does Accreditation Work?
Accreditation generally goes through a peer-review process during which faculty from accredited institutions conduct evaluations of either new, non-accredited institutions or accredited institutions looking to renew their accreditation.
Most accrediting bodies follow a similar process as part of their review:
- A self-review of processes, programs, courses, staff, and academic requirements. This self-review is then reviewed by the accrediting body.
- Candidacy is the next phase where, once the self-review has been accepted by the accrediting body, the institution will continue reviewing its processes and programs for compliance and work to solidify any weak areas. During this step, institutions continue to draft documentation for the review process.
- Next, the accrediting body performs a site review, which includes an in-depth analysis of all documentation, interviews, class visits, and a review of business processes.
- Finally, the institution will either be granted accreditation or denied; if denied, a report is provided on what needs to be addressed before another application can be reviewed.
One could argue that homeschool academies and programs must go through even more exhaustive protocols in order to receive accreditation. Within the process of accreditation outlined above, homeschools must also:
- Demonstrate how educational standards are met.
- Demonstrate how programs are customized to meet children’s needs.
- Demonstrate how success is determined.
- Demonstrate how measurements are taken to ensure that students are continuously gaining ground in academic learning and growth.
As you can see, this is a rigorous process…but it’s so important for families and students to know that their education is recognized and valued.
Why Is Accreditation Important?
As a homeschooler, both you and your child work hard to ensure that he or she is getting a top-notch education…why let all of that time and dedication fall by the wayside by using a non-accredited homeschool program? With an accredited homeschool program, you know that your student’s hard work is recognized. Accreditation demonstrates that homeschool academies care about the quality of the education they provide by having their enrollment methods, staff qualifications, materials, resource allocation, program effectiveness, and much more assessed on a yearly basis. It shows that an institution is always seeking to improve its standards, quality, and systems and that they have a history of reliability and trustworthiness.
Homeschooling is a wonderful option for your child’s education and most families who begin homeschooling fall in love with it and continue through graduation. But there are also situations where homeschooling may not work out, and there might be the desire to return to the traditional classroom. Using an accredited homeschool program helps ensure that schools will readily enroll your child and their accredited transcript for a seamless transition back into the brick-and-mortar classroom.
Accreditation may also open the door to potential NCAA funding and scholarships reserved for students attending an accredited school. Some universities and colleges won’t even consider homeschool classes as valid without accreditation, which could not only impact your child’s chance for a scholarship but also admission into the school.
From a practical standpoint, an accredited homeschool partner does the heavy lifting for you–grade reporting, transcripts, credit tracking, record-keeping–so your focus remains on your child’s education.
How Do I Know If a Homeschool Has Accreditation?
The easiest thing to do is ask. Call or email the institution you’re researching and simply ask them if they’re accredited, and by whom. If they tiptoe around the subject or say that they’re “registered”, “authorized”, “licensed”, or “approved”, there’s a good chance they aren’t actually accredited.
Also, keep in mind that homeschool statutes vary by state, so be sure to read up on your state’s homeschool laws to ensure that you’re following the correct protocols. This is important for a number of reasons, but especially because in states with stricter homeschool laws, working with a homeschool partner accredited by the Department of Education places you firmly within the state’s umbrella of protection. So, to your state, your child is recognized as a student just like any public or private school student–except you get all the benefits of homeschooling!
Make sure to do your research and don’t be afraid to ask questions! After all, this is your child’s education at stake. You deserve to know that his or her education will be recognized when the time comes for post-graduation decisions.
Bridgeway Academy is Accredited
And proud of it! Part of Bridgeway’s mission is to ensure that every homeschool program has the accreditation your child deserves. So, we push ourselves each and every year to obtain accreditation through Cognia, NCA CASI Regional Accreditation, SACS CASI, ACS WASC, and The Pennsylvania Department of Education. This accreditation guarantees that we review our programs and requirements annually–not because we have to, but because we strive to be the best homeschool option around, and having that important accreditation helps push us toward that goal every year.
The self-examination that we conduct on a yearly basis allows us to identify where our strengths lie and where our accredited programs exceed expectations. This process involves closely reviewing standards and systems and determining how effective they are at meeting and surpassing our students’ and families’ expectations. As a result, you always know what you’re getting with every Bridgeway product and program.