Some questions I’ve seen recently online or had asked of me:
- Can you suggest an accredited homeschooling curriculum for this grade?
- Do I need an accredited program for high school in order to show colleges?
- Is accreditation important?
The answer, very plainly, is no. No, you do not need accreditation for anything. Accreditation is not important in homeschooling. Accreditation is not required in homeschooling anywhere in the United States. (The only exception I’m aware of is that I have heard that there are some countries that do require some form of accredited program for homeschoolers, including Americans living abroad.) Accreditation is not required to show colleges when you apply as a homeschooler.
In fact, I’m going to go even further. Accreditation in homeschooling is a scam. If you see a homeschool curriculum that claims it’s “accredited,” then you should probably not buy that program because they’re making a pretty dubious claim. A homeschool curriculum can be developed by an accredited school or by a credentialed teacher. However, no serious accrediting agency will give accreditation to the curriculum itself.
The other thing you should understand is even for schools, not all accreditation is equal. Anyone can start an accrediting agency. There’s not one, single method of accreditation nationwide. There are different types, intended for different types of schools. I’ve been through the accrediting process in a private school with a serious accrediting agency and I can tell you that while the process helps ensure some things about a school’s finances and that the mission statement of the school matches the type of instruction they carry out, it doesn’t ensure quality of instruction or legitimacy of methods. Even for private schools, attending an unaccredited school can be fine. It also does not prevent students from getting into good colleges.
Online programs can be accredited and there are legitimate accrediting agencies that credential them. If you are choosing an online school instead of homeschooling, you might want to consider accreditation, just like you would with a brick and mortar private school. However, again, understand that accreditation is not the only or even the primary mark of a quality program. Nor is it required by colleges.
If you are only choosing an online school for a few courses, then accreditation doesn’t need to play any role in your choice. Choose the providers that you feel are the highest quality. Sometimes, if you’re trying to fulfill a specific requirement, you need to consider other measures. For example, if you’re choosing an AP course, you want to be sure the syllabus has been approved, or if you’re choosing a lab science, you want to make sure the lab component is included. Instead of accreditation, look at the reviews of the provider and individual instructors, as well as the required textbooks and materials for a course.
It’s easy to be fooled by a claim that you don’t understand. “Accreditation” sounds important and potentially necessary. It’s nerve-wracking to head into the high school years, when you have to think about things like credits and transcripts. However, let me take this thing off your plate. It’s not something you need.