Public High School Diplomas, the High School Equivalency Assessment, and Homeschoolers
According to Liz Keliher of the Massachusetts Department of Education: "Homeschool 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 [sic] has met the local requirements for graduation. The school committee may provide a home school [sic] student with a letter or certificate which indicates that the student participated in an approved home schooling [sic] 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.
- 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.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Education:
The Massachusetts High School Equivalency credential is accepted by virtually all colleges, universities, and employers in the United States as exactly equivalent to a high school diploma. In order to earn the credential, you must take and pass one of two assessments tests, either the GED© test or the HiSET ®. These tests are comparable in terms of cognitive complexity and rates of passing, but they vary in significant ways as well.
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 them 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.