What records am I required to keep in my personal files?
What kind of documentation is required for Kindergarten students?
How should I record activities in which the student and parent-teacher engage?
What curriculum resources should I use?
What subjects am I required to cover?
S.C. State High School Requirements
Will I have any problems entering my child into public school later if I decide to do so?
What records must I submit to PHA?
In what situations would PHA require additional information from student portfolios?
Why does PHA require that members report previous and future contacts by local authorities, student expulsions or suspensions from previous schools, and special needs status of students?
How should attendance records be maintained?
What constitutes a “day” of school?
What should I include in my portfolio?
What kind of testing is required?
What should be included on the semi-annual progress report?
What if I am contacted by authorities concerning my Homeschool?
What other options for Homeschooling are available in South Carolina other than Section 59-65-47?
Is private chartering considered an option in SC?
How will my student obtain a diploma?
What do I do about transcripts for transferring students to public or private school or for college entrance?
What kind of testing is required for college entrance and when should the tests be taken?
How can my student prepare for the PSAT, SAT, and ACT?
Can my student earn college credit from home?
Will homeschooled students be able to qualify for South Carolina Scholarships?
Award amount for LIFE scholarship recipients
The Palmetto Fellows Scholarship
New Requirement for SC State Scholarships:
According to Section 59-65-47, parent-teachers must keep a planbook or diary and maintain a portfolio of students’ work, including attendance records and semi-annual progress reports.
Progress reports must be completed for each student at mid-year and year-end. See question #15 for a more detailed description of progress reports. Also, see the appendix for a sample progress report and attendance form.
Previously our association did not require documentation for kindergarten students, because kindergarten students are allowed a waiver through the public schools. However, a better understanding of this waiver law prompted us to require documentation. As we understand the law, by waiving the right to enroll students in kindergarten, parents are agreeing to prepare their children for first grade at home.
Parents may tailor their record-keeping methods to suit their particular teaching styles. Some may want to write out daily lesson plans a week or two in advance, while others may want to log in activities after they’re finished. Activities may be logged in daily or weekly. Don’t feel that you must cover every subject every day. If you and your children are thoroughly engrossed in a history lesson, for example, don’t put it down just because it’s time for science. Enjoy the activity at hand! That’s the beauty of Homeschooling. Of course, some subjects, like math and reading, require daily building of skills. But science and history can be alternated in weekly, monthly, or semester blocks or integrated with other disciplines, as in unit studies. Some elementary schools cover science one semester and history the next. (Please note: If high school students are working towards Carnegie Units, each subject must be covered 50 minutes per day for 180 days for a total of 150 hours of study to match public school requirements; PHA will accept 120 hours.
PHA parent-teachers are free to choose whatever materials they determine are best for their students’ interests and learning styles. You may purchase a formal curriculum package, use an eclectic approach which includes texts from different companies, use prepared unit studies, create your own unit studies, use an objectives checklist, use library books, or enroll in a correspondence school with or without full record-keeping services. The possibilities are limitless. The most important thing is that you use what meets your family’s needs.
By law, the curriculum must include, but is not limited to, the basic instructional areas of reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies, and in grades seven through twelve, composition and literature.
In elementary and middle school, all these subjects are required every year. It is recommended that reading and math be covered every day, since these are skills that build incrementally with practice. Those using the unit study approach usually stress certain subjects more than others at times; however, there must be a balance of subjects covered overall. A good way to document subjects covered in unit studies is to keep a weekly instead of a daily journal.
High school students may follow a course of study similar to the public schools in which every subject is not covered every year; instead, a certain number of units for each subject are required for graduation. (Check with the State Department of Education or your local high school for graduation requirements. These are subject to change from year to year, depending on recent legislation. South Carolina’s colleges and universities require certain college preparatory courses. These are listed at the following website: www.che400.state.sc/. Click on academic affairs and licensing. These also are subject to change from year to year.) Please note that even in the public schools, students have instruction in English/Composition and Math every year. Homeschoolers, also, must include these each year at the high school level. Other subjects, such as science and social studies are more flexible. If you decide to follow the more traditional plan, make sure you include at least as many units in the core areas of science and social studies as the public school.
The following information is provided for those who would like to pattern their high school curriculum after the public school. This is not required by PHA unless you will be requesting a diploma through PHA.
S.C. State High School Requirements
Beginning with 1997-98 9th Graders
U.S. History and Constitution
Other Social Studies
Physical Education or Junior ROTC
Computer Science (to include keyboarding)
*Foreign Language or Career and Technology Education
Total number of units required for receiving a S.C. state high school diploma: 24
* Students in College Prep program must earn one unit in a foreign language (most four-year colleges/universities require at least two years of the same foreign language); Students in a Tech Prep program must earn one unit in Career and Technology Education.
The public schools cannot deny your child’s entrance. Grade placement would be the only possible conflict. Your records should help school officials determine the best grade placement for your child; however, many schools also require your child to take a placement test.
In public high schools, Carnegie Units are required for promotion and graduation. Originally 120 hours in one subject – meeting 4 or 5 times a week for 40 to 60 minutes, for 36 to 40 weeks each year - constitutes one Carnegie Unit, as set by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (www.carnegiefoundation.org). Most public schools now set their own definition of a Carnegie Unit as 150 hours per subject. The public school begins issuing Carnegie Units in the freshman year of high school. Carnegie Units are also required at the eighth grade level for consideration for entry into honors courses in the ninth grade. Some high schools will accept the parent’s documentation of Carnegie Units; however, no high school is required to accept credits from another school. Some schools require students to take an exam on each course considered for credit upon entry to high school. Check with your local school to see what they require and will accept.
Regardless of the level of entrance, be prepared to answer questions about your Homeschooling methods, materials, and course of study. As PHA members, parents are responsible for all aspects of their Homeschool. This includes keeping abreast of current public school graduation requirements as well as providing any documentation necessary for grade placement in your local school. If entry into public high school is a future possibility, begin your preparation well in advance of entry by visiting the school and talking with the guidance counselor.
Our enrollment form requires a course of study for each student and a signed commitment statement, promising to uphold the requirements of Section 59-65-47. Your membership packet includes a Mid-Year Checklist and a Year-End Completion Statement, both of which you will be required to sign, verifying that you’ve met the requirements of this statute. Your actual tests, lessons, progress reports, planbook or diary, etc., are to be maintained in your personal files. Please do not send these to PHA.
Statute 59-65-47 requires Homeschoolers to keep copies of the parent-teacher’s diploma, GED, or higher educational degree, attendance, lesson plans, samples of work from each required subject area, and semi-annual progress reports in their files. PHA routinely requires only a signed affidavit from the parent-teacher stating that he or she has all the required information on file. Only if PHA receives a report of educational neglect would we require submission of copies of the additional information listed above to our office. These are rare, but they do happen. Usually they are unfounded. However, in several instances we have found them to be legitimate. These parent-teachers were not actually Homeschooling their children and did not have the documentation in their files that is required by SC law.
We need to be aware of problems of this nature for several reasons: First, if a prospective member is already embroiled in a legal battle, we feel we would risk the protection of our association, thus our current members, if we approve such an application. Second, in the event DSS or the local school district contacts us about one of our members, we want to be able to speak intelligently on your behalf. They generally are already aware of special circumstances surrounding the member Homeschool. By being well informed on certain basic facts concerning students, we are better able to defend your membership in good standing. Additionally, school districts often offer special services to special needs students. We identify these students for our private records, only, so that we can pass along information about these services to our members.
Information submitted to our office is for our files only. We do not give members’ names, addresses, or phone numbers to anyone. We only report the number and grade level of our members to the local school district once a year, as required by law. When a school district calls to verify membership, they must provide us the name before we will verify membership status. We do not give lists of Homeschoolers’ names to local authorities.
The school year must be at least 180 days. Ten days are allowed for sick days.
Field trips may be counted as a day. You may follow a traditional school year, school year round, school four days per week, combine half days to equal one full day, teach on weekends, etc. Whatever combination you use must equal 180 days per year. Since PHA’s business year ends June 30, we require you to document 180 days and turn in your Year-End Completion Statements by June 15. (Copies of these forms are including in your member packet.) A good way to keep up with attendance is to use a planbook or journal with weekly layouts in which the day and date are blank. You fill in the days and date each week, then keep a running cumulative total of days present and absent somewhere on the page. This makes it easy to transfer to your semi-annual progress report.
That depends on your style of teaching, your student’s learning style, age, and attention span. With one-on-one instruction, a Homeschooler can cover the basics much faster than his public/private school counterpart, leaving much more time for extracurricular activities. If you don’t get to a particular subject one day, catch up another day or on a weekend, then fill it in on the day it was planned. If your student covers two days of coursework in one day, you may count that as two school days; just be sure to record two separate dates for the work. There are many creative ways to cover and document subjects without being stifled by a strict schedule. High school Homeschoolers may not be as interested in counting days as in counting hours to qualify for Carnegie Units.
To meet state requirements, keep samples of daily lessons in all subject areas, your planbook or diary, your semi-annual progress reports, assessments, and attendance records. You may also want to include any information from special evaluations, such as speech, vision, and hearing screening, etc. or information on any other handicapping condition and special provisions made or services rendered. It’s also a good idea at the elementary level to include a tape of your child’s oral reading, recorded periodically throughout the year.
High School Portfolios should be more elaborate and should be geared towards the audience with whom the student is planning to share the portfolio. One popular resource for help in creating portfolios is The Homeschooler’s Guide to Portfolios and Transcripts, by Loretta Heuer, M.Ed.
Statue 59-65-47 does not require standardized testing, and neither does PHA. The law does require individualized documentation of the student’s academic progress in each of the basic instructional areas; therefore, some type of assessment is required. This could be a curriculum-based test, checklists of objectives, teacher-made tests, an inventory of basic skills, a standardized test, or other creative means of assessment.
All basic (required) subjects areas should be listed with an assessment for each. You may use letter grades (list your scale for grading); satisfactory, unsatisfactory, needs improvement; a checklist of objectives mastered; or whatever form of documentation is needed for your particular method of assessment. You must also include attendance. Sample progress reports are listed in the appendix of this handbook. However, you are free to create your own.
Show them your PHA certificate of membership and a copy of Section 59-65-47, if needed. Tell them they can call PHA for verification. Notify PHA’s office within 24 hours of the contact by authorities. Do not invite school officials or DSS workers into your home. This could give opportunity for unwarranted scrutiny of not only your Homeschool, but also your household. For information on legal defense, refer to the “other services” section of this handbook.
Two other options are available. One is to report to your local school district. (See Statute 59-65-40 on page 19.) This option is free; however, there are several disadvantages. You are required to submit more paperwork, to teach 4 1/2 hours per day, to be approved by the school board, and to comply with state standardized testing. Your children must either take these standardized tests in the public school classroom with the other children or be tested at your home after school hours by a teacher from the school where your children would attend. Testing in the classroom setting is free, but you must pay the tester if you choose to have your children tested in your home. Neither of these options are ideal testing situations for homeschooled children. They are not familiar with the public classroom setting. Neither do they perform as well when tested in the evenings.
Another disadvantage with Homeschooling under the local school district is the authority it gives the district over your Homeschool. If your children’s standardized test scores fall below grade level, your Homeschool will be put on probationary status. If test scores do not improve the next year, the school board may not give permission for you to Homeschool another year.
The other option for Homeschooling is to come under the umbrella of the South Carolina Association of Independent Homeschools. See Section 59-65-45 on page 18. SCAIHS’ law is slightly different from Section 59-65-47 in that it does not contain section (d), which establishes parental maintenance of specific educational records. Many people believe this inclusion actually protects Homeschoolers in that it clearly defines who is responsible for these records.
While several school districts recognize and may even encourage private charters, this option is considered by many to be less safe as the three previously mentioned. Our former Attorney General issued an opinion that chartering is not a legal option in South Carolina.
Yes, for several reasons. One, it gives your children a good feeling to be able to give the name of their school when asked where they attend. Also, occasionally we all have to fill out applications or forms that ask for a school name (summer camp, honors chorus, etc.) You may find it is just a lot less trouble to give the name of your school rather than having to offer explanations about why you Homeschool. Finally, there are many offers found over the Internet and in books and magazines for free materials for teachers. Their request forms always ask for your school name. Please indicate your school name on your attendance records and semi-annual progress reports. Of course, a school name is required for a diploma.
PHA offers diplomas, complete with member school name, bearing PHA’s official seal. See “Diploma Information and Order Forms” in the Appendix for details.
Many Homeschoolers choose to issue their own diplomas. However, if you need or desire something more formal there are a couple of options. The most widely used option for Homeschoolers is the GED program. This diploma qualifies the student for federal and state financial aid programs. However, this may not be the best choice for your homeschooled student because it will not reflect the quality of education your student has received. (GED stands for “general educational development”, not “graduation equivalency diploma,” as many people assume. It is designed to be passed with only a tenth-grade education.)
A better option for Homeschoolers is to enroll in an accredited correspondence school or satellite program. Be sure to find out if the institutions you want your child to be admitted to after high school recognize these diplomas. Several of the more widely recognized accredited diploma programs are the American School, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Keystone National High School, and Cambridge Academy. (See the section on correspondence schools for more information.) You also need to make sure a diploma from the correspondence school chosen will qualify your student for federal and state financial aid if this is needed.
Some private or church schools offer diploma services to Homeschoolers through an umbrella program. However, this can be rather expensive and put undue restrictions on your Homeschool. Another option is to take advantage of the services offered by Clonlara or North Atlantic Regional Schools (NARS). These two private day schools offer a diploma program to Homeschoolers by reviewing Homeschool portfolios. See pg. 25 for more information.
As with all aspects of Homeschooling high schoolers, it is important to start early researching diploma requirements for the career path your student has chosen and exploring all options available. The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling by Debra Bell is an excellent resource with which to start. See our resource list for others.
If you choose to issue your own diploma there are several sources available for obtaining a nice certificate: (See resource section for addresses and/or phone numbers.)
· Alpha Omega – blank diploma.
· Berg Christian Enterprises – will imprint your school name. When requesting samples, tell them you’re a Homeschooler so they’ll send the appropriate samples. Ordering in bulk will save on imprinting costs.
· Home School Legal Defense – diploma comes in burgundy, leatherette case, embossed in gold with the “lamp of knowledge”; parents fill in information.
· Educational Support Foundation- personalized diploma with all information typeset in calligraphic style.
There are several resource books available to guide you in creating your own transcripts. The Homeschoolers’ Guide to Portfolios and Transcripts, Homeschooling the High Schooler, And What About College, Apprenticeship + Plus, Senior High: A Home-Designed Form-U-la, and College Admission: A Guide for Homeschoolers are all listed in our Resource Books section of this handbook, along with suggestions for where to purchase them. Home School Easy Records, a computer software program, is another good source for transcripts, as well as, for lesson plans and other record keeping (see the appendix of this handbook for info and a sample transcript). Also listed in the appendix is another sample transcript form that you can use as a guide for creating your own. Your transcript should be neatly typed and include the following basic information: Homeschool name, address, and telephone number; student name and birth date; completed courses with corresponding grades and credits earned; total credits, cumulative G.P.A.; and grade point equivalents (if letter grades are given as final grade). State that your Homeschool is registered under your family name as a member of Palmetto Homeschool Association, Inc. Your transcript must be signed and dated by the parent-teacher.
Most transfers to public or private school are successfully completed by the parent-teacher’s transcript and/or submission of the student portfolio. Occasionally a school will request that the parent/teacher-generated transcript be verified by the umbrella association. Our association will accommodate these needs for transfer to another elementary or high school (for a fee). However, in order to certify grades for college, scholarships, and other post high school needs, we require that students be enrolled in our transcript program. See the appendix for details.
Many colleges don’t require a transcript, only SAT or ACT scores. The key to successful transition into college is early preparation. Contact the college of your student’s choice to find out what they require. One of the most helpful guides available to help you with college admissions is And What About College by Cafi Cohen. The Homeschoolers’ Guide to Portfolios and Transcripts, by Loretta Heuer, is also a valuable resource for high schoolers.
In the event a high school refuses to accept the parent-teacher transcript, please contact PHA’s office. We may be able to facilitate acceptance of your transcript by sending it from our office with a cover letter. Cost for this service is $10.
For college, scholarship, and other post-high school needs, PHA offers a full transcript program. This program is open only to PHA juniors and seniors PHA will keep track of student grades in our database and generate a transcript with student GPA tabulated according to South Carolina’s Uniform Grading Scale. This transcript will indicate the member school name and bear the official seal of PHA. The cost of this service is $50.00 per student per year. This fee includes sending certified transcripts to up to five schools or colleges. Additional transcripts incur a $5.00 charge each. Members electing to receive this service will be required to report course descriptions, final grades and credits for each course completed, due with the Midyear and Year-end checklists.
It is a good idea for your college-bound student to take the PSAT in tenth grade as a practice round. The eleventh –grade PSAT score is used to qualify for the National Merit selection and is the score most frequently used with colleges. Your student should also take the SAT or ACT the second semester of his/her Junior year, in order to have scores available for scholarship applications. These tests can be taken over again in the senior year if your student desires to try for a better score.
The key to success is practice. Barron’s practice guides are the educator’s choice for SAT/ACT preparation. Inside the SAT and PSAT is an award-winning software program from Princeton Review (800-2-Review). Study aids are also available from Princeton Review, Gruber, and IDG Books’ Dummies Guides.
Yes, through a rapidly growing segment of education called distance learning. 1) Through advanced placement equivalency exams, students are allowed to opt out of freshman-level courses. 2) Through CLEP (College-Level Examination Program) tests and PEP (Proficiency Examination Program tests, a student has the opportunity to do an independent study, then take an equivalency exam that is representative of the knowledge typically acquired in that college-level course. Each institution sets its own standard for what constitutes a passing grade. These tests are available from the makers of Advanced Placement exams and the SAT. Study guides are available from the CLEP program. Another resource is Barron’s How to Prepare for the CLEP. 3) Students may earn college credit through correspondence courses. Check out Bear’s Guide to Earning College Degrees Nontraditionally by John and Mariah Bear (Ten Speed Press, 1996) and/or Peterson’s Independent Study Catalog (Peterson’s, 1995). One such program is offered cooperatively by Penn State University and the University of Iowa. Contact LionHawk Program 800-272-6430 http://www.uiowa.edu/~ccp 4) Students may earn college credit through the Internet. Check out the resource section of this handbook for books or websites. 4) Some institutions award credit for life experiences. For guidelines, read Bear’s Guide to Earning College Degrees Nontraditionally and How to Earn a College Degree without Going to College by James Duffy (Wiley, 1994).
Dr. Douglas Batson of Essential Education offers help to Homeschoolers in developing a plan for earning college credits and a degree at home. Contact him at Essential Education, 4 Regis Circle, Sterling, VA 20164, or visit his website: http://www2.dgsys.com/~dbatson.
Yes. To qualify for the LIFE Scholarship, students must meet two of three of the following criteria: 1) Graduate from high school with a minimum 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale, calculated after the eighth semester; 2) Receive a score of at least 1100 on the SAT or 24 on the ACT; 3) Rank in the top 30 % of graduating class. (For students enrolling in a 2-year college or tech school, only a 3.0 average is required. The other requirements are waived. Homeschooled students who need the class rank in order to qualify may obtain that class rank from the umbrella organization under which they Homeschool, or via their local school district (by requesting a hypothetical class rank from the guidance office).
Scholarship recipients must be South Carolina residents, and in addition to the academic requirements listed above, they must:
· Attend an eligible South Carolina public or private college or university;
· Be a legal resident of the State of South Carolina
· Have not been convicted of any felonies or alcohol or drug related misdemeanors;
· Be a U.S. Citizen or a permanent resident;
· Be a full-time degree seeking undergraduate student;
· Must not be a Palmetto Fellow recipient; and
· Must not be in default, owe a refund, or repayment on Federal or State financial aid.
· Four-year Public Institution: Cost of tuition, not to exceed $4,700, plus a $300 book allowance per year.
· Four-year Independent Institution – Up to $4,700 plus a $300 book allowance.
· Two-year Public and Independent: Up to $3,080 plus a $300 book allowance.
· Technical: Up to the cost of tuition plus a $300 book allowance.
The Hope Scholarship:
Students who do not qualify for a LIFE or Palmetto Fellows Scholarship but otherwise earn a B average upon graduating from high school will be eligible to receive up to a maximum of $2,650 towards the cost of attendance at a 4-year public or private institution for the first year only. Application must be made through the institution to which the student is seeking enrollment.
Will replace LIFE Scholarship at 2-year public and independent institutions. Any SC student who qualifies for in-state tuition rates at a technical or public two-year institution may receive lottery assistance. Will cover the cost of tuition.
The college or university to which the student applies will notify the student of his/her eligibility for the LIFE and HOPE Scholarships and the Lottery Tuition Assistance. Refer any questions to their financial aid office. For further information on the above scholarships, contact the South Carolina Commission of Higher Education at 803-737-2293.
Is a merit-based scholarship administered by the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education. Award amount is up to $6,700 annually. To qualify for the Palmetto Fellows Scholarship, students must:
· Score at least 1200 on the SAT or 27 on the ACT; 2) Earn a 3.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale or a 3.5 on the Uniform Grading Scale by the end of the junior year; and
· Rank in the top five percent of the class at the end of either the sophomore or the junior year.
· Be enrolled in a public or private high school or an approved home school program of study.
· Be a legal SC resident as defined in State statutes governing the determination of residency for tuition and fee purposes.
· Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
· Be seriously considering attending, have applied, or have been accepted for admission to an eligible four-year baccalaureate-granting public or private college or university in SC.
· Certify that he or she has not been convicted of any felonies, and has not been convicted of any alcohol or drug-related misdemeanors within the past academic year.
· Certify that he or she does not owe a refund or repayment on State or Federal financial aid.
Our association is limited to two eligible Palmetto Fellows Scholarship candidates from our membership. If you believe you meet the requirements for this scholarship and would like to apply, contact PHA’s office in September of the year you intend to compete. It is the parent-teacher’s responsibility to schedule all required standardized tests and complete the student transcript or enroll in PHA’s transcript program. PHA will provide the qualifying Homeschool with the scholarship application.
The Uniform Grading Scale Policy applies to all students who first enroll in the 9th grade class for the 2000-2001 school year. For information, including the conversion table, visit the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education at this website: www.sde.state.sc.us/archive/educator/ug_intro.htm
Because scholarship requirements can change rapidly, it is strongly recommended that parents seek up-to-date information from the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education at (803) 737-2260 or their website: http://www.che400.state.sc.us
For LIFE, LTAP, and HOPE Scholarships: Students graduating midyear must submit an Early Graduation Application Form, along with an official letter from the high school principal (or association director) and an official high school transcript in one packet to the Commission on Higher Education. Early Graduation Application Forms may be obtained from PHA or from the Commission’s website above.