Many people worry about the myth of accreditation. Is your school accredited? It’s a common question I hear as I discuss my program with people. And my answer is no. We are actually proudly not accredited. But I believe this worries some potential families, and I want to shed a bit of light on this issue.
The question of Accreditation is a common myth that needs to be dispelled.
Accreditation is an entirely voluntary process, done by private, nongovernmental agencies. These independent agencies charge big money for accrediting schools. It’s an arduous process for the schools, and often takes a couple years to complete. Accreditation generally means that the administration and faculty of a particular school have invested significant amount of time, energy and resources going through a process of demonstrating that they follow and adhere to state standards and traditional teaching practices. This sounds good, but many of the “worst schools’ in the US are still accredited.
And for brand new small progressive schools accreditation is nearly impossible.
Accreditation sort of serves the purpose of weeding out “diploma mills” and other educational scams, but the standards used for this process are wide and varied. Furthermore, there are “accreditation mills” that accredit “diploma mills.”
Most colleges accept homeschool students. And getting a diploma from a non accredited high school is very similar to a homeschool diploma if you have a transcript to back up the learning that happened in the teen years. In addition, most colleges require that students complete SATs and ACTs to demonstrate some level of academic competency, and preparing for these tests can obviously be done without the structure of an accredited school. Here is a link that links to over 1,000 colleges that accept homeschoolers, and by extension would likely accept unaccredited high school diplomas with transcripts as well.
In investigating alternative programs, you might ask about the high school transcript produced. Do they even offer one? At some online schools, young people take a quick test and get a high school diploma. This may serve some families- for numerous reasons. I’m not necessarily opposed to diploma mills– as I believe that high school diplomas (even from accredited schools) don’t mean as much as some people believe.
A major truth here is this: Accreditation applies only to which school one attends, not what the individual student has learned.
Imagine these possible scenarios
Johnny dispassionately slides through an accredited high school completing minimal requirements, and gets straight D’s. He receives his high school diploma from an accredited school, along with a transcript that shows he earned D’s in all his classes.
Sophia drops out of school to play in her band. At 18, she uses a diploma mill to get an unaccredited high school diploma. She has no high school transcript except for what she did before dropping out.
Dylan yearns to leave school and rock climb. He joins a private unaccredited school like Pacific Sands Academy – where he is supported in following his passions. He earns a diploma from an unaccredited high school, along with a narrative transcript that describes his strengths and accomplishments during his teenage years. He also completes an online portfolio that he can use as he moves to his next steps in life.
Samantha homeschooled her entire life. Her mom helped her complete a high school transcript (or hires Pacific Sands Academy to do the same thing). They create a homeschool diploma, and highlight her interests in theater and political activism in her transcript. Her “school” was unaccredited as well.
Accreditation is really not the issue here; the issue is what kind of learning happened for the teen? What kind of education did she receive? In the above examples, I would argue that Johnny had the worst education (though he went to the accredited school). Sophia (the band “dropout”) followed her dreams, and probably getting a decent business and music education in doing so; Dylan and Samantha followed their dreams as well studying and becoming competent in subjects that interested them.
In conclusion, I believe it’s important to consider your teen’s education before accreditation. Consider in what environment your teen is most likely to learn best? A school where he is bored and dispassionate? or out in the world living a life of self directed education with or without a school such as Pacific Sands Academy supporting him?