In set of overlapping quandries… June 10, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in education, homeschooling, older son.
Tags: college, homeschooling, older son, online learning, transcript
I spent some time looking at options for the older boy.
First, I’m really not thrilled with the idea of a transcript (as you may have guessed) because I don’t feel it’s legit to write one up. Yes, he spent time studying some physics in the form of reading a book on the thermodynamics of cooking and doing some experiments. I’m sure he learned a lot about heat and thermo and it’s practical applications. BUT. He didn’t have a formal high school physics course, and I don’t feel comfortable putting down just “physics” on a high school transcript. I don’t know that it’s ethical to represent what he did that way. That’s the sort of thing I’m wrestling with.
I’m very reluctant to just throw something together because if I put down ‘physics’ and someone finds this blog post, for example, they could claim I lied on the transcript. There are some potentially very real repercussions, including the possibility that he gets kicked out of school because he was accepted on the premise that he took a physics class which they believed contained certain content but which actually didn’t. That’s not fair to him, obviously. On the other hand, I think a transcript is the worst possible way to show what he’s done. A lot of unschoolers bypass this issue by putting together portfolios…but the school won’t accept that: they want a transcript. Period.
(I am not sure what you would call our schooling style, BTW. It was something along the lines of “use what works, throw out what doesn’t.” I was primarily concerned that there was a lot of competence established in math and language arts because ability in those areas will help with other areas like social studies and science. Those are a foundation…other things are icing on the cake. But that’s just my opinion.)
The other problem I have with the transcript business is grades. As an example, it’s pretty clear cut that he did a macroeconomics course. In most high schools, this would be the equivalent of AP Macroeconomics and would probably be a year-long course. So I’m totally fine with putting that as a course. However, when it comes to assigning a grade, I don’t feel good about that. He worked pretty diligently, but I wasn’t examining what he was doing on a day-to-day basis. I wanted this to be his thing that he did because he was interested. My evaluation was just likely to kill that interest. He was working through the text and the study guide as well as watching a video course. When he took the CLEP, he got a 50, which is what ACE says is the lowest passing grade and equivalent to a C in most college courses. So do I give him a C because that’s what he got on the CLEP? Or do I give him an A for passing a college-level class as a sophomore in high school?
You see…there is no objective standard for grades. Grades are almost always context dependent and don’t, in my opinion, honestly reflect mastery of material. A lot of what goes into grades (and I can say this as a teacher) is understanding and meeting requirements in a timely manner. In other words, did you do what the teacher wanted, when s/he wanted it? Some of these requirements have little to do with mastery of material. (Not all, mind you…but some.)
In looking around, however, I found a program that actually is for high schoolers to take college classes online through a reputable university. (There are several of them, BTW, but this one has a couple of majors that the older boy is interested in.) As a homeschooler, they have several requirements for exams, such as SAT and subject tests. But they also will accept a GED…and if he has the GED, he can bypass submitting things like SATs.
The thing that I’m questioning is that it’s all online. I was hoping he’d get the experience of having to go to classes and set up a schedule and figure out when to study. He has said things go better for him when he works out of the house. Now, I imagine that if we do a similar situation like we did with his CLEP, only he totes a laptop with him, it may go alright. He’s still getting out and following some sort of schedule, right? And he’s definitely learning some independent study skills as well as knocking out some college classes. (I really also think he’ll enjoy the college level stuff more, and I’m hoping he’ll try some classes just for fun.)
On the other hand, he can actually complete a degree entirely online through this program, and so is there really a need to physically go to classes? (Although, once he’s old enough, he could hypothetically attend this college in person.) I’m not sure. I don’t know what the best approach is for learning those “life skills” he’ll need when I’m not there to drive him to the library in the morning. I also have this gut feeling that the more college he has under his belt before he leaves home, the better. I have this hope that it’ll improve his chances of finishing because he’ll be into the ‘fun stuff’ in his major and not feel like he’s wasting his time doing all the general ed-type stuff. (I’m also hoping he’s got a more solidified direction after trying some general eds and seeing what he likes.)
I really had no idea that trying to figure out what to do with my kid in high school was going to be more of a mess than when I tried to figure out what to do for college.