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Public High School Diplomas, the High School Equivalency Assessment, 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 high school equivalency exam 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.html.

  • In cases where diplomas are required, the High School Equivalency Credential already exists as a widely accepted credential. The High School Equivalency Assessment 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.

As of 2014, Massachusetts has switched from the GED to the HiSET series of exams (http://hiset.ets.org/test_takers/) as the form of high school equivalency assessment.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Education:

“Massachusetts has for many years issued a High School Equivalency Credential, signed by the Commissioner of Education and indicating that the recipient of the credential has demonstrated the skills and knowledge of a high school graduate. The High School Equivalency Credential will continue to be the official document to show that a person has the skills and knowledge of a high school graduate. However, the assessment tool by which the Massachusetts High School Equivalency Credential is earned will change…

HiSET will measure the academic knowledge and proficiency equivalent to those of a high school graduate. HiSET will be available to Massachusetts adult learners beginning in late January or early February and will include assessments in Language Arts – Reading, Language Arts – Writing, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science…”

The High School Equivalency Assessment and Homeschoolers
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 High School Equivalency Assessment. If a superintendent is confused about this policy and doesn't want to honor a homeschooler's request for a letter, call or email Olympia Stroud to confirm. 781-338-6625 or ostroud at doe dot mass dot edu.