Is your homeschool student starting or approaching high school? Then you need a
recordkeeping plan! Today on Homeschool Heartbeat, HSLDA consultant Diane
Kummer shares crucial tips on high school grading and recordkeeping.
Mike Smith: My guest today is Diane Kummer. She’s a
former homeschooling mom and one of HSLDA’s high school consultants. Diane,
welcome to the program!
Diane Kummer: Thanks, Mike, for having me.
Why keep good records? [0:25]
Mike: Diane, let’s talk about records. Why is it so
crucial for high school students to keep detailed records, and how can that affect
their post-graduation opportunities?
Diane: Well, records are important for many reasons, Mike.
Good records prove the veracity of the education parents have provided their teens.
Parents should check the HSLDA website to determine if their state homeschool law requires them to keep certain
records, such as hours of instruction or days of attendance. However, in addition to
what’s legally required, there are other records that colleges, employers,
trade schools, military recruiters, apprenticeship programs, and scholarship
committees may require. These entities will need to make an assessment of the
teen’s academic abilities. They also want to know about the teen’s
extracurricular activities, interests, and passions.
The records parents keep for their teens enable others to have a better
understanding of the education that’s been provided. Homeschool parents need to
document the exceptional opportunities their teens take part in and the wonderful
education they’ve received. Good records showcase the teen’s
accomplishments. Parents should begin a good recordkeeping system when teens reach
the high school years, and then keep on top of those records throughout high
Building the foundation [1:39]
Mike: Diane, transcripts are the backbone of high school
recordkeeping. But many parents don’t know where to start when it comes to
making a high school transcript. What advice do you have for them today?
Diane: Mike, in order for parents to create a transcript for
their teens, it’s important to develop a good recordkeeping system when teens
start any high school level courses. The academic records that parents keep become
the source of data that’s commonly found on a transcript.
I suggest that parents write brief course descriptions for each high school course
at the beginning of the course. These course descriptions may not be seen by anyone
but the parent. Nonetheless, they are important. Course descriptions serve as backup
documentation for the summary information on the transcript.
A course description would include [the] title of the course and the materials
used—such as textbooks, videos, reading lists, websites, or other curriculum
resources. It also includes a brief explanation of the method of evaluation the
parent used to determine a grade in the course. Last, the course description includes
how much credit the parent assigned to the course.
From these course descriptions, a parent can then easily create a transcript that
provides others with the information they need to assess the teen’s academic
4 steps to creating a successful transcript [2:53]
Mike: Diane, what information is essential to include in a
high school transcript?
Diane: Mike, a transcript includes four main sections.
The first section provides personal student information, such as student name,
address, phone number, email address, date of birth, and parents’ names. This
section also includes the name of your homeschool, [its] address, phone number, and
contact person—which is usually the parent, of course.
The second section includes course title, final grade, and credit earned for each
high school course completed.
The third section includes a recap of credits earned and Grade Point Average (or
The fourth section is the signature and self-certification section.
Mike: Is there anything else that maybe isn’t vital to
the document, but would still be good to include on the transcript?
Diane: Yes. The final transcript should include the month,
day, and year of the student’s graduation date. If a teen needs a transcript at
any time prior to transcript to graduation, the partial transcript can include the
expected month and year of the teen’s graduation.
Some transcripts include the teen’s Social Security number. However, I
suggest parents not include their teen’s Social Security number on the
transcript. A college or job application usually requires a Social Security number,
so it’s not necessary to duplicate this number on the high school
Don’t forget to grade! [4:11]
Mike: Diane, some parents are unsure about how to grade
their high schoolers’ course for their transcript. What is the best way to
approach the high school grading process?
Diane: I encourage parents to give thought to how they would
like to evaluate their teen’s coursework prior to the beginning of the course.
Parents have much flexibility to determine the evaluation tools they’ll use.
They may decide to use any combination of tests, quizzes, papers, projects, oral
discussions, or presentations.
It’s important for teens to develop good test-taking skills and good writing
skills for post-high school employment or college. Parents should consider using a
variety of these methods to evaluate their teens coursework.
Mike: Diane, let’s talk about extracurriculars?
What’s the best way for parents to accurately document their students’
accomplishments in those areas?
Diane: Extracurricular means all of those activities teens
may participate in, including part-time and summer jobs, sports, music, community
service, clubs, hobbies, and much more.
I encourage parents to keep track of these activities throughout the year by
logging hours of participation, noting the skills their teens are learning, and also
including contact information of the coach, instructor, or employer. Simply jot down
these details on a regular basis. The information will then be available whenever
requested by an outside source.
The HSLDA website has a sample
extracurricular sheet for parents to review.
3 common recordkeeping mistakes [5:40]
Mike: Diane, what are the biggest mistakes parents can make
when it comes to transcripts and recordkeeping—and how can they avoid them?
Diane: Mike, one mistake I see parents make in relation to
recordkeeping is not setting up a workable system to track the information. There are
resources on HSLDA’s website that provide parents with an outline of the
records that are important to keep. A file folder, a three-ring binder, or folders on
the computer can be set up to keep records. Once the system is in place, then simply
add new information.
Another mistake that parents may make is not understanding that college admissions
officers, employers, and military recruiters will be interested in details pertaining
to their teen’s education. It’s best to keep track of things as they
happen, rather than try[ing] to recreate records many years later, when it may be
difficult to remember what courses were taught to which child in what year.
A third mistake that parents make is not backing up important records. I’ve
spoken with parents who have lost all of their school records—including the
transcript—when their computers have crashed or their homes were destroyed by
fires or natural disaster. I suggest that parents make copies of important records
and safeguard them.
Mike: Diane, on behalf of all of the grateful homeschooling
parents out there whose lives just got significantly easier because of your advice, I
want to thank you for joining us this week. And until next time, I’m Mike