Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Doing homework can help parents, students find credible education options

Traditional public high school isn't for everyone. Sometimes, students need alternatives that better suit their needs.

As recent events in Zephyrhills revealed, though, not all alternatives lead to the desired results. Two teens who left Zephyrhills High for CHS Inc. High School discovered the hard way that the credentials they thought they had earned weren't worth the paper on which they were printed.

They're now out their payments and seeking a GED to get into technical schools.

It doesn't have to be that way. Students in home school and other private programs can and do gain access to higher education all the time. But selecting a credible program requires a lot of front-end work to avoid problems at the end of the line.

"The process of selecting a school for a child is one of the most important decisions a parent will make," said Adam Miller, executive director of the Florida Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice. "They need to make an informed decision."

The department offers a series of questions for students and parents to ask before committing to any school.

"We advise parents to look at the philosophy and mission of a school," Miller said, "to see if it is something you think aligns with what you think your student's educational needs are."

Other key points include checking teacher certifications and relevant experience, the quality of the overall academic program, and any accreditations the school carries. A school visit also is critical, Miller added, to determine the engagement level in classrooms.

If you're concerned about your future options, he said, be sure to ask the school for a list of where previous students have gone after graduation.

"Many schools track that information," Miller said.

You can also talk to people in nearby public and private schools, to see if they have had students return from a specific program and how their credits transferred back into the district graduation requirements.

Allison Kanewa, senior class guidance counselor at Wiregrass Ranch High School, said she has seen students fall through the cracks because they left high school for unaccredited programs that didn't translate into a recognized diploma.

"Taking them to England doesn't mean they earned an English credit," Kanewa said.

That's why the school seeks to meet with the families of every student who transfers out, to ensure that they understand the options available to them.

The public school system offers credit recovery and adult education programs, including the GED, which is acceptable to get into community college and many technical programs, Kanewa said.

"If they decide to opt for home school and don't want to be part of the district . . . we have a dropout prevention coordinator track them every quarter to make sure they are in some type of program that is certified and legitimate," she said.

Registered homeschool programs can use online courses, such as Pasco eSchool or Florida Virtual, to meet recognized requirements. Homeschoolers also can submit portfolios to the district for review, to ensure that their courses comply with state graduation standards.

"The ones that fall through the cracks are the ones that don't register with the district. They go on their own, and then go to USF and are told 'No,' "Kanewa said. "That's usually when they end up coming back to the school. . . . Home education is very different than homeschooling."

Done right, students can qualify for Bright Futures scholarships and degree-bearing programs.

Homeschooled students seeking a Bright Futures scholarship must be registered with a school district for their junior and senior years, and submit an ACT or SAT score along with a sealed, official transcript from a Florida public high school, Florida Virtual School, dual-enrollment coursework from a Florida state (community) college or university, or an FDOE-registered private high school.

A parent-generated transcript is not accepted.

The same is true to gain admission to a state college. If an applicant doesn't have proof of high school graduation, Pasco-Hernando State College will accept a GED in addition to the official transcripts. Without such documentation, the application won't be considered.

The Department of Education has no authority to license, approve, accredit or regulate private schools, including private home schools, Miller said. Doing the homework up front is the best way to protect your future.

"Certainly, you want to be careful when you select a school," he said. "We would encourage parents to do their due diligence and make that selection very carefully."

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 909-4614. Follow @jeffsolochek on Twitter. For more education news visit the Gradebook at tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook.

Helpful links

Choosing a Private School in Florida (FLDOE):

floridaschoolchoice.org; search "choosing a private school"

Private School Accreditation information:

floridaschoolchoice.org; search "accreditation"

Home-Educated Applicants Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program: bit.ly/tbt-brightscholar

Doing homework can help parents, students find credible education options 03/07/14 [Last modified: Friday, March 7, 2014 7:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Clearwater police: Car thief dead after owner fires gun

    Crime

    CLEARWATER — One man is dead after the owner of a car fired shots at the thieves who were stealing it Monday night, police said.

  2. Iraqi forces sweep into Kirkuk, checking Kurdish independence drive

    World

    KIRKUK, Iraq — After weeks of threats and posturing, the Iraqi government began a military assault Monday to curb the independence drive by the nation's Kurdish minority, wresting oil fields and a contested city from separatists pushing to break away from Iraq.

    Iraqi security forces patrol Monday in Tuz Khormato, about 45 miles south of Kirkuk, a disputed city that the government seized in response to last month’s Kurdish vote for independence.
  3. Trump and McConnell strive for unity amid rising tensions

    National

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, tried to convey a sense of harmony Monday after months of private feuding that threatened to undermine their party's legislative push in the coming weeks to enact a sweeping tax cut.

    President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell field questions Monday in the Rose Garden of the White House. “We have been friends for a long time,” Trump said.
  4. 'Me too': Alyssa Milano urged assault victims to tweet in solidarity. The response was massive.

    Human Interest

    Actor Alyssa Milano took to Twitter on Sunday with an idea, suggested by a friend, she said.

    Within hours of Alyssa Milano’s tweet, tweets with the words “me too” began appearing. By 3 a.m. Monday, almost 200,000 metoo tweets were published by Twitter’s count.
  5. Tampa tax shelter schemer too fat for his prison term, attorney says

    Criminal

    TAMPA — A federal judge sentenced two Bay area men to prison terms last week for peddling an offshore tax shelter scheme that cost the IRS an estimated $10 million.

    Duane Crithfield and Stephen Donaldson Sr. were sentenced to prison after marketing a fraudulent offshore tax strategy known as a "Business Protection Plan" to medical practices, offering doctors and others coverage against unlikely events such as a kidnapping.