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4/14/2011 9:55:28 AM
Home School Legal Defense Association
HSLDA's Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner Newsletter

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HSLDA's Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner Newsletter
April 2011--Tackling Tricky High School Issues
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By Faith Berens

Recently I presented a workshop for parents who have struggling
teenagers. Homeschooling through high school may seem like a daunting
task already. There are often many additional questions that arise
regarding "tricky" high school issues when one has a child with a
learning disability or special challenges. For this month and next
month's Struggling Learner email newsletter, we will be sharing some
of the frequently asked questions and answers regarding homeschooling
struggling high school age students. We hope you find this
information encouraging and helpful. You CAN home school your
struggling learner through high school!

Q: How can I grant my child a high school diploma if he has some
severe needs? What are the requirements for high school graduation,
particularly for a child with special needs?

A: A diploma is simply a certificate by which a person or an
organization certifies that the person named on the diploma has
successfully completed a course of study. Only a few states impose
high school graduation requirements on homeschoolers. You should
check your state's homeschool laws and compulsory attendance
regulations, as well as talk with HSLDA's Legal Department if you are
unsure of any graduation requirements in your state. In most states,
the parents, as teachers and administrators of the school, determine
an appropriate course of study and set forth the graduation
requirements for their homeschooled high school student, based on the
child's functioning level, special needs, and his post-secondary
goals.

Some families may choose to award their child a Special Education
Diploma, Certificate of Completion, or a Certificate of Achievement.
Such alternative diplomas would be most suitable for children with
severe disabilities, such as developmental disabilities, or in cases
where an individual will more than likely always either living with
someone or partially independent, such as in a group home. It is wise
in these circumstances to indicate on your child's high school records
that the student's high school program was modified. Awarding an
alternative diploma is a judgment call, and you must carefully
consider the implications of awarding an alternative diploma, because
doing so could place some restrictions on post-secondary learning or
employment. Some state colleges and employers accept alternative
diplomas, but many graduates with disabilities find their options
limited by not having a "standard" diploma. So, we encourage families
to speak with the legal staff regarding your options.

For students who are not college bound, but will be entering a
technical training school, the work force or military, we recommend a
basic, general high school diploma, which will include 20-22 high
school credits. To view sample four-year plans and a list of
recommended credits and course work for a general high school diploma,
please visit HSLDA's Homeschooling Thru High School website and access
their brochure on "Developing a Plan for High School,"
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=10844

We do encourage families who are homeschooling children with learning
disabilities (and especially those who have children who are gifted
with learning disabilities) to plan their child's high school program
of studies with college in mind. Do not automatically rule college
out because the student has some mild to severe learning challenges,
such as dyslexia. Community college is a great stepping stone to a
four-year university or college. Should he choose to attend college
in the future, your student will need to obtain at least a general
academic diploma.

Course work for a general college preparatory diploma should include:


> 4 credits of English
> 4-plus credits of math
> 3-4 credits of history
> 3-4 credits of science
> 2-4 credits of a foreign language
> 1-2 credits of physical education
> 1-2 credits of fine arts
> 5 credits for electives
> total of 24-28 high school credits

Q: How can I give my child high school credit for a course, such as
math or history, if he is working or reading "below age/grade level"?


A: Struggling students, as well as functionally disabled students,
are given high school credit and graduate from public high schools all
the time. Therefore, in special cases, one should apply similar
criteria to homeschool students who have a documented learning
disability. For example, if a 10th-grade student is capable of doing
only 6th-grade-level math, and that is truly his or her capacity
according to the other conditions noted below, then he or she may be
awarded a high school credit in math for completing the 6th-grade
material.

CONDITIONS:

> If the student is in the 9th grade or above, and
> The student has been diagnosed as having a learning difficulty which
has a documented history, and
> The student is performing at or near HIS OR HER capacity for
learning in that subject, and
> The student is showing that this year's work is a progression from
last year's work, and
> The student has completed all of the requirements of the course to
the satisfaction of the parent, and
> The work (or number of hours) have been documented to your
satisfaction (120-180 hours)

Then that student should be granted a high school credit for the
course. Another example is a student who is reading below high school
level. You can use adapted materials, such as high interest/low
readability materials, assistive technology such as print recognition
software or reading pens, as well as books on audio for the literature
and still grant the student high school credit.

In these special circumstances, we are not attempting to lower high
school standards or requirements, we are simply trying to make
appropriate accommodations (and make the content accessible) for the
student with a learning disability or special need. The goal is to
help them attain their full, God-given potential and to make sure they
are working up to their highest level of capability.

Q: Do you have any suggestions for alternative high school course
work and curricula?

A: Tailoring a course of study based on your child's needs,
functioning level, as well as areas of strength and weaknesses, is one
of the beauties of homeschooling! For high school, it may be that
your child is excelling in one academic area, but needs to move at a
slower pace in another. It may be that you have to design some
alternative course work; for instance, if your child will be unable to
be successful with higher level math course work, such as trigonometry
or calculus, you can substitute with basic math, perhaps an accounting
class, a consumer math or a finance/money management class. If
possible, have your child take Algebra 1 and 2, as well as geometry,
but again, you have to design the course of study based on your
child's needs and capabilities.

A great online source for finding curricula appropriate for struggling
learners is http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=10840 . Hewitt
Homeschooling Resources, http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=10841 , is
a correspondence high school program and offers a special needs track
for high school. This online homeschool program offers a course of
study, provides the curricula, syllabi, access to instructors, record
keeping (transcript), and issues a diploma to the student once he or
she has completed a track of study. They also offer single course
options, and we really like their resources and some of the course
work they have created for struggling students.

Finally, there are some wonderful publishers and vendors that carry
alternative high school course work and curricula. A few we really
like are: AVCS Books, High Noon Books, Attainment Company, and
Remedia Publications.

To access a list of further curricula and resources for high school
math and science, please visit our website
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=10842 and click on the "Resources"
tab, then go to the "Articles" section.

Downloadable alternative curriculum lists (Members-only resource):
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=10843

We know that for those God has called, He will be faithful to equip
with every resource needed in order to finish the good work! We are
so happy to be able to come alongside you and assist you in the task
of homeschooling your struggling learner (Yes, even through high
school). We will leave you with this promise from God's Word.

2 Corinthians 9:8 "And God is able to make all grace abound to you,
that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have
abundance for every good work."
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-> How many of your friends would pay your legal fees?

As a member of HSLDA, you have 80,000 families standing with you
to protect and advance homeschool freedoms in the United States
and foreign countries.

More reasons to join HSLDA...
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=1106

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