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Public High School Diplomas, the GED, and Homeschoolers

According to Liz Keliher of the Massachusetts Department of Education:
"Home-schooled students are not permitted to participate in the MCAS and, therefore, cannot fulfill the requirements of the competency determination or attain a high school diploma. However, districts have the discretion to determine whether, or the extent to which, a student who has been home schooled has met the local requirements for graduation. The school committee may provide a home schooled student with a letter or certificate which indicates that the student participated in an approved home schooling program and describes the content of the program and the results of any academic tests administered by the school district."

  • High school diplomas are not necessary for homeschoolers to pursue college or other goals in the majority of cases. For most of homeschooling history in Massachusetts, homeschoolers have gone on to pursue goals after homeschooling, including matriculating at selective universities, without diplomas. 

  • Most colleges are familiar with homeschooled applicants, and are primarily interested in their portfolios, the meat of the application, considering a high school diploma or GED a bureaucratic box to check off. It is wise to check with places of interest, such as candidate colleges, workplaces, or the military to find out what their acceptance and matriculation requirements are.

  • High school diplomas are not necessary for federal financial aid. See http://www.ahem.info/FAFSA.htm.

  • In cases where diplomas are required, alternatives to public high school diplomas are currently available to homeschoolers. The General Education Development Diploma (GED) already exists as a widely accepted credential, as well as other alternatives to public high school diplomas, such as parent issued diplomas, or enrollment in an umbrella school or a correspondence school that offers a diploma program. 

  • The GED is an appropriate test for students such as homeschoolers, who have embraced an alternative education style, to measure their knowledge and academic skills against those of today's traditional high school graduates. The GED Tests measure knowledge in five different areas: language arts, writing; social studies; science; reading; and mathematics. Statistics: About two-fifths of graduating high school seniors don't pass the tests under current score requirements. About one in twenty first-year college students is a GED graduate. (http://www.acenet.edu/clll/ged/index.cfm)

The GED and Homeschoolers: Ruth Derfler, Director GED & Alternative Adult High School Credentials at the Massachusetts Department of Education clarified that a homeschooler age 16 or 17 can have the school write a letter stating that he or she is not enrolled, as he or she is a homeschooler, and that letter will qualify him or her to take the GED. Ms. Derfler said that if a superintendent were confused about this policy and didn't want to honor a homeschooler's request for a letter, they could call her (781-338-6604) to confirm.