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Monday, February 08, 2010

Square Pegs

If we were still homeschooling, as defined by our county school board, Sarabelle's high school transcript would be a breeze; whatever studies and credits I assigned would be honored. As we are now under the domain of a private school, though it is only an umbrella school, our own at that, and we continue to essentially homeschool, things are a bit more complicated.

For Sarabelle to be eligible for the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship, and this also applies to regular homeschoolers, we have to shoehorn the classes and studies she's completed into the official courses recognized by the state's department of education. It's not as easy as finding a description that basically fits, no, you have to be sure the course gives the proper credit amount in the proper category for the proper award and is currently valid. For example, I decided to describe her latest English course, the Teaching Company's Great Authors of the Western Literary Tradition as a Great Books course, the closest description available, assigning her one full credit for the two semesters' worth of study, however, the Great Books course was only considered a valid credit up until 2007, so the next best match was a World Lit Honors class which is weighted with an extra half point for grading purposes. I never intended to inflate her grades, but don't have much choice: if we designate one of her classes with course #9999999, a number used for studies which don't match offerings in the official list of designated courses, she receives no credit. The Great Authors study is probably legitimately more challenging and involved than a high school English Lit course, but I still worry about the appearance of impropriety.

Complicating the matter was the fact that while Sarabelle had valid high school credits and above average grades for grades 8, 9, and 10 in Australia, her year 11 semester grades, the ones earned on her most recent solo trip, were atrocious. In her defense, she did not get the classes she wanted and was pushed into more difficult courses. Aside from that she was there (in her eyes) primarily to socialize. I was happy to discover after several discreet inquiries, that Queensland schools do not use transcripts for university admissions, relying solely on exit exam scores and copies of report cards, and that there is no clearinghouse of student data available to college admissions officers. Fortunately for us, the school she is currently applying to will except international report cards if necessary or the grades earned there if they have been accepted and incorporated into a transcript from her current school, so we need not report the awful grade 11 marks from Australia and can use our own private school year 11 grades.

In Florida high schoolers need 24 credits to graduate. Anyone who homeschools can imagine what a joke this is. We ended up with 37 credits and to keep it from looking absolutely ridiculous I pared the number down to 33.75, downgrading several rightfully earned credits into extracurricular activities.

She needs to take her SATs one more time having scored high enough to qualify for the 75% award but a few points shy of the 100% award. Her grade point average is good and she has way more volunteer hours than necessary for the scholarship requirements. Deadline for this particular school's applications is March 1, and so far we are right on schedule.

1 comment:

Meg_L said...

Yow! that does sounds complicated.

I can't tell by what you are saying, but I thought I'd throw out the idea that we used of making different transcripts depending on where Boy was applying.