Do you keep putting off creating
a transcript for your homeschooled teen due to fear of the unknown, even though that record is crucial to your
teen’s post-high school education and
job opportunities? We have good news—transcript preparation is not the behemoth task you imagine! In fact, creating a transcript will give you a great sense of accomplishment as you see the progress your teen is making each year on his way to high school graduation.
What is a Transcript?
Contrary to what you may think, a transcript is not a legal document. It’s simply a concise and accurate record of your teen’s high school academic courses, usually one page long. Schools across the country do not use a standardized transcript template, so don’t be overly concerned with your format. However, the transcript should be clear, well-organized, and typed—please, no handwritten transcripts!
HSLDA recommends that all students, regardless of post-high school plans, have transcripts that are kept as part of the students’ permanent school files. In the future, if employers, college officials, scholarship committees, or licensing boards request the transcript, it will be readily accessible. (HSLDA has received calls from homeschool graduates who have experienced difficulty in education, hiring, or promotion situations because they could not provide their high school diploma or transcript.)
Don’t wait until graduation day to create this document! It is difficult and stressful to create a transcript at the last minute by searching back through four years of homeschool records—course descriptions, tests, assignments, and grades. Finding missing information may be impossible at that point. Rather, begin creating the transcript as soon as your teen completes his first high school courses, and simply add to it each subsequent year.
As this article discusses the various sections of a transcript, you may want to follow along with the sample transcripts available on HSLDA’s Homeschooling Thru High School website.
What Information is Typically Found on a Transcript?
Most transcripts include the following sections:
- Personal information: Student’s full name (no nicknames, please!), mailing address, phone number, email, birth date, and parents’ names. We recommend not including your child’s Social Security number unless specifically requested.
- School information: School name, address, phone number, and email. Provide all of this information even though it will duplicate some of the personal information.
- Academic course record: Course titles, credits, and final letter grades; yearly and four-year cumulative grade point averages (GPAs). List courses by the year in which they were completed. Course titles should be brief and reflect course content.
- Academic summary: Total credits earned, graduation date, additional notes, signature, and date of issue.
Why Give Credit and How Do I Calculate It?
It is important to list the credits on the transcript to indicate the length of each course to those reviewing the transcript. Credits are also necessary for calculating the GPA.
There are several methods for assigning credit to a high school course. In most states, semester-long courses earn one-half credit and yearlong courses are granted
one credit. An easy way to determine how many credits a course is worth is by whether your student completes a high school textbook, since curriculum publishers typically gear their textbooks around this standard credit system. For example, Algebra I is considered a yearlong course, and completing a standard Algebra I textbook will provide one credit. A textbook course on American government that covers one semester will earn one-half credit when finished.
If you are not using a textbook for a particular course, then logging hours will help you to calculate the amount of credit. A suggested scale to use is 120–180 hours of coursework equals one year of credit. The low end of this scale will satisfy elective courses, the midrange of 150 hours is sufficient for the core academic courses such as English or history, and the upper end is for lab sciences.
If your teen takes college courses during high school, the general rule of thumb in translating the college credit to high school credit is one semester of the college course equals one year of high school credit. Always check with the school or locale for policies dictating dual enrollment.
Is it Necessary to Give Grades?
Evaluating your child’s work in each course and awarding a letter grade is recommended. Without grades, a GPA cannot be calculated. (Elective courses may be awarded pass/fail grades, which are not included in a GPA, so our suggestion is to use pass/fail grades sparingly.)
Another advantage of giving grades is the feedback they provide to your teen on how he is doing in a particular course. Grades may also serve as some well-needed motivation for your teen to take his high school coursework seriously!
Although grades are subjective, parents should do their best to evaluate their teen’s level of academic ability and understanding. For help with grading various types of high school work, visit our website.
What is a Grade Point Average?
A grade point average (GPA) is a number that takes into account both credits and grades earned in high school courses. To calculate a GPA, convert each letter grade to points (an “A” is worth four points, a “B” is worth three points, a “C” is worth two points, and a “D” is worth one). For each course, multiply the letter points by the number of credits awarded to arrive at the quality points. Add all of the quality points for each school year and then divide this number by the total number of credits earned that school year. For a detailed
explanation of calculating both yearly and cumulative GPAs and how to account
for pass/fail grades, read “Computing a GPA—Yikes!”.
What is Meant by a Weighted GPA?
For the majority of students, the GPA will not be weighted. However, if advanced placement courses have been taken, you may choose to weight the GPA. For example, an “A” in an advanced placement course receives five points rather than four points, a “B” receives four points instead of three, and so on. Additional information regarding advanced placement courses may be found at www.hsldaathome.org/
NavigatingAP, www.hslda.org/APelert, and www.hslda.org/APResources.
In a similar way, honors courses are typically weighted by a half-point. For example, instead of an “A” receiving 4 points, it receives 4.5, a “B” receives 3.5, and so on.
Should Grading Scales or Tables be Listed on the Transcript?
The issue of grading scales and tables
can be a bit tricky. Many homeschoolers
take some courses from teachers other than their parents, and those teachers may use
different grading scales. Adding all these scales to the transcript can become quite cumbersome. However, if you have taught your children all of their courses, then adding such a scale or table will be informative to those reading your transcript. Rest assured it is fine to issue a transcript without a grading scale.
Who Signs a Homeschooler’s Transcript?
The person attesting to the veracity of the information provided on the transcript typically signs the document. In the case of a homeschooled student, the transcript is signed by the parent(s). However, if a child is enrolled in an umbrella or oversight school and the school provides a transcript service, then an official of the school will likely sign the transcript.
It’s important to provide a signed original to anyone requesting your teen’s transcript. Providing a photocopy of such an important document diminishes its professionalism. In some instances (such as military enlistment), you may want to have your teen’s transcript notarized. The notary public is not verifying the validity of the information provided on the transcript but is simply attesting to your signature based on proper identification.
We hope this information has given
you confidence to create your teen’s transcript. HSLDA members, feel free to call or email us should you have any questions relating to transcripts. We look forward to helping you!
|About the author
Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer are HSLDA high school coordinators.