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In set of overlapping quandries… June 10, 2012

Posted by mareserinitatis in education, homeschooling, older son.
Tags: , , , ,

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.



1. karifur - June 10, 2012

I don’t know if your questions are rhetorical or if you are looking for feedback, but as you know I am always full of opinion and more than willing to chime in on the subject. So here you go, whether you wanted it or not 😛
(1) Just put Physics. He took the GED which I’m sure contained questions on physics as well as other things. Speaking as a high school grad who took physics, I’m sure he remembers as much about physics as the average high schooler who took a traditional physics class. If he takes physics in college they will review all the basics anyway.
(2) most high school grades are based on a combination of homework, attendance, tests, and other assignments. A “C” would not be an accurate representation of a high school grade. I would say the CLEP should be about 30% of his grade for the class. For the rest, think about time spent on studying, any extra work he did, etc. It may be more difficult to measure, but it would be more fair as a comparison to the average high school transcript.
(3) Don’t worry about the online aspect. IMO you are putting too much value on the traditional classroom experience. What’s more important is that he’s learning and putting in the effort. Honestly, I don’t think I gained anything from the “classroom” itself. I got out of every class exactly what I put into it, and absolutely LOVED my online classes. The only time I preferred the classroom was for lab work. Unless you have a complete laboratory at your home, it’s just not the same. And besides that, do you really think at his age it’s that important or valuable for him to spend time around traditional college freshmen? I doubt he will get a positive example from them.


mareserinitatis - June 10, 2012

1 – This is why I’m so frustrated. He got 800/800 on the science portion of the GED without having a formal ‘science’ class since 6th grade. He says he just picked a lot of stuff up from me and Mike. I guess that’s a vote for environment on the impact of knowledge.
2 – I know…but I still feel like there’s no way to do all this stuff objectively. (You’re right…like N&M below, I’m overthinking this. But I still don’t like it.)
3 – It’s not the ‘classroom’ experience I’m so worried about…it’s the ‘can he get to the places he needs to be without mom being responsible?’ aspect. It’s also the aspect of getting used to what teachers require to get good grades. On the other hand, he’ll be working part-time and having to do at least some of that with online classes…so maybe it’s irrelevant. I will say that I can see him having an easier time focusing on an online class given it’ll be more like the studying he’s done for the CLEPs and such. So if he can make it through that way, is it really so bad?

I appreciate your opinions. I guess this whole thing caught me entirely off-guard, and I process through some of it by writing. 🙂


karifur - June 11, 2012

1- Okay, woah woah woah. If he got 800 out of 800, then I think he warrants all A’s in every science class ever. Even if he never took a class in school or homeschooling. Holy crap Cherish, that’s spectacular.
2- Again I agree with Nicole and Maggie.You are overthinking this so far that if it was a physicial race, you would have come around and passed it again. Seriously, the point of the transcript is to measure the knowledge that he has gained so they know what course material he can handle in college. I’m sure it will also be used to determine prerequisites, etc. I also second the suggestion of calling the school. Since they are requiring it, call them up and ask them how you would like to handle the situation. Or maybe you know someone who could look over the transcript and give you a second opinion before you send it in?
3- Your first concern has a simple solution: Can he get where he needs to be without you taking him there? There is a branch library within easy walking/biking distance of your house and they have free wifi. Make him take himself. 🙂 As for learning what teachers require, the online classes will have that. Many of the online classes I took had scheduled deadlines for assignments and requirements for online discussions as well. He has plenty of time to figure all of this out – don’t stress yourself about it yet. He’s only… 16(?). Anyway, he’s young. He will learn more of these things as he gets older and participates more in the online classes.


2. nicoleandmaggie - June 10, 2012

I think you’re overthinking this. It sounds to me from your previous post like they said, hey, here’s a hoop you have to jump through that doesn’t mean anything and nobody is going to pay attention to.

With the specific questions you have, why not call up whoever told you you need to put a transcript together and ask about physics and CLEP tests and so on? If you ask and they say yes or no and you put what they tell you then you won’t have lied. Don’t forget that you’re also allowed to put down pass/fail in high school.


mareserinitatis - June 10, 2012

Unfortunately, they were very clear that I had to assign grades. No pass/fail. No satisfactory/unsatisfactory.

You may be right about the hoops thing, but I’m not someone who likes to engage in anything that could be construed as dishonest, even in my own head. (I wish I could…my life would be much easier this way.)


nicoleandmaggie - June 10, 2012

Then ask them what to for the parts you have questions about. That’s not dishonest.


3. nicoleandmaggie - June 11, 2012

Maybe your son should do a draft of the transcript first. There’s no reason it has to be all on your shoulders.


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