Philosophy of Grading
We are observing a growing scrutiny of homeschooling in some states. As a result, we are structuring our polices in a way that assures our families that their grade reporting will measure up to educational standards should they ever be evaluated by local school officials.
- As of the Fall of the 2016–2017 school year, AHE has moved from a seven-point to a ten-point grading scale. This change was made to place our students on a level playing field since a ten-point grading scale has become widely used nationwide. All grades prior to Fall 2016 will remain on the seven-point grading scale.
- Consistent informal and formal evaluation (questioning, homework, quizzes, tests, projects) must be implemented to determine whether course objectives are being met.
- These evaluations result in objective grades, precise descriptions of a student's level of understanding and performance.
- Weekly grades need to be submitted each marking period.
- The teacher/parent should be the key in making educational decisions that are based on students’ individual needs and the classroom goals.
- It is not necessary to finish every textbook every year, but it is a wise goal.
- Curriculum is written to provide teachers a tool to meet personal, state, and national standards for learning, preparing the student for the next step of his education.
- Leaving out concepts can hinder future understanding of more complex concepts.
- Learning gaps can affect achievement-test results.
- A complete battery of nationally standardized-achievement tests is required each spring. These tests should be ordered through the AHE office since they are provided as a part of the annual administrative fee.
- High school applicants and existing 8th grade AHE students must take a learning-abilities test and obtain a standard-age score of at least 901 .
- Each student is expected to maintain a stanine at or above the 5th stanine.
- The results of this testing will become part of the student's permanent record and should support the weekly, quarterly, and semester grades.
*Tests for high school admission must be administered by an approved nonrelative proctor.
Junior High Credits
Anything taken during the junior high years meets a junior high requirement. Exceptions would be where a transcript from a traditional school lists a high school course during junior high years. Regardless, all students must meet all AHE graduation requirements during the high school years.
High School Credits
The critical component in validating high school credit is hours of instruction, not necessarily completing a course of study.
- The standard measurement in a precollege program is the unit of credit. The AHE unit of credit generally represents 50–60 minutes of instruction five times per week over the course of an academic year of 180 days.
- Credits are usually validated by the semester, which is half the year or 90 days.
- According to how much credit is required for a course, students not needing a full credit (150–180 hours) can also earn .5 credit (75–90 hours) or .25 credit (37–45 hours).
- A minimum of .25 credit is required in a semester course to receive credit with The Academy of Home Education.
Locally Offered Technical Coursework
Since some homeschooled high school students take advantage of locally offered coursework in technical areas, (such as driver's education, introduction to computers, auto repair) credit may be earned in this manner and counted toward graduation requirements provided that credit is not also being applied to another institution.
These separate college entrance tests are conducted on predetermined sites only on specific days, so they are not available through our testing service.
Remember that your children have the gift of time during this important foundational phase of learning. High school instruction builds on the educational foundation formed in the elementary and junior high years to provide expanded learning opportunities in preparation for college.
- We do not approve early graduation from high school without extenuating circumstances and appropriate abilities. If an accelerated program is desired, it is recommended that the acceleration begin at the college level.
- We may approve early completion of coursework for the purpose of taking advanced courses in high school, but not for the purpose of earning high school credits prior to entry into high school.
- Students who take high school classes replacing 7th or 8th grade courses will not receive high school credit. The completed courses will constitute completion of the 7th or 8th grade course expectation. (Remember that all courses, including these replacement courses, must utilize BJU Press curriculum in all academic areas in which these materials are available.)
- All courses taken upon completion of 8th grade may meet high school credit requirements but should be pre-approved by the AHE guidance office. This policy would include courses taken during the summer between 8th and 9th grades.
- Regardless if credits are earned prior to 9th grade, students must earn all the graduation credits required by AHE for each subject. (In the case of foreign language, after 2 years of the same language, credit may be earned in a different foreign language rather than requiring 4 years of the same language.)
Philosophy of Teaching and Learning
At AHE, we believe that homeschool parents teach their children many lessons in life that will not necessarily result in a grade on a report card. Reasons for this philosophy are many, some of which are listed below.
- Ministry more than Education — Not every educationally valuable activity should be given an earthly reward. Community service and ministry opportunities, such as participation or leadership in service (church choir, church orchestra, youth programs, Sunday School, mission trips, etc.) should be done for the glory of God with eternal goals and not for earthly recognition.
- Science of Teaching and Learning — Not every educationally valuable activity has the structure for educational validation (earning high school credit). Although much may be learned through an international trip, home project, and similar activities, credit is typically granted only as specific pre-determined objectives are evaluated (by tests, quizzes, projects) and accomplished to a level of graded competency.
- Personal Development — In a world culture where children are taught to ask or think, “What do I get out of this?” we need to provide various learning experiences that teach practical life lessons rather than academic facts that gain a grade.
Course structure (goals, expected objectives, and the evaluation process) must be identified prior to the beginning of instruction.
- In order to approve a course as having educational validity, AHE requires that parents provide the following information prior to instruction:
- What textbook, software, or proposed course of development will be used?
- What objectives will be evaluated to show mastery of accomplishment?
- What methods of evaluation will be used to identify level of competency?
- Who will provide the primary instruction? (Beware of courses in which students have no one to whom they will be accountable.)
- How much instruction time will be required to fulfill the expected level of credit?
- A good question to ask yourself is, “Would a traditional school provide academic credit for this course?”
Academic integrity requires that the person responsible for instruction provides a safeguard against unethical practices. The following are safeguards to protect students from yielding to the temptation to cheat:
- All teacher keys/answer keys should be maintained by the parent.
- Parent/Teacher should maintain consistent active involvement in the educational process of each course.
- Grading and recording grades should be conducted by a responsible person other than the student.
Maximum Credit Load
Planning is essential to maintaining an appropriate balance of expected coursework and corresponding credit in each academic semester. Attempting a high credit load in a single semester can create problems:
- Frustration for the student and parent
- Pressure on the student to skip essential assignments
- Limited value from each course attempted
- Questions of integrity from colleges upon review of the transcript
Credit-load average should be 3 hours/semester, not to exceed 3.5 hours/semester. An attempt to accomplish more than 3.5 hours/semester should be approved by the AHE guidance department and will be based primarily on achievement-test scores.
We recommend that core elective courses (keyboarding, basic computer application, physical education) be taken in 9th and 10th grades. Later, elective courses may be best filled with courses that are more difficult or more focused on future needs as the student matures in his educational development.
1 High school applicants (including those coming from Grade 8 within the program) must obtain a standard-age score of at least 90 on a mental-abilities test and obtain overall standardized-achievement test scores that indicate readiness for ninth-grade work. If any stanine score in any academic area is below 5 on the achievement test, the student may be admitted on a conditional basis, pending improvement in that area. This decision will be made upon the recommendation of our homeschool consultants.