When Does My Child Graduate?
This is one of the most common questions we hear. In Virginia, the parent—as the administrator, planner, teacher, and facilitator—is the person who determines and verifies completion of the student’s course of study. Therefore, to graduate a homeschooled child:
- The student completes the course of study outlined by the parent.
- The parent presents the student with a signed and dated diploma.
- The parent has a transcript that backs up the course of study.
Once graduation has taken place, regardless of age, a teen is no longer under compulsory school attendance laws.
- 22.1-254.(A). The requirements of this section shall not apply to…(b) any child who has obtained a high school diploma or its equivalent, a certificate of completion, or has achieved a passing score on a high school equivalency examination approved by the Board of Education, or who has otherwise complied with compulsory school attendance requirements as set forth in this article.
Alternatively, if a student is enrolled in a correspondence course, the course administrator will verify completion of the course of study and, in most cases, sign the diploma.
When to Notify (or Not) the Superintendent or School Board
Once a student is 18, he is no longer under compulsory attendance laws, and parents are not required to seek permission from the superintendent for graduation. Neither does the law require parents to notify the superintendent that their child has graduated. As a courtesy, some parents may choose to do so, but the law does not require permission, notification, or documentation. You would not want to send a copy of your teen’s diploma and/or transcript because the superintendent has no authority to view or have a record of a homeschooler’s diploma or transcript. Once your child graduates, no action is required by the law.
If your student is 18 prior to the August 15 NOI filing deadline and you are continuing home instruction, you are not required to submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) for the coming year because your 18 year old is no longer subject to compulsory education laws. Neither are you required to send in testing results if your student is 18 prior to the August 1 testing deadline.
If a student is under the age of 18 on August 15, parents should submit a NOI for the coming year. However, you are not required to submit test results the following year if your student has graduated, or if he has turned 18 prior to the August 1 testing deadline because he is no longer under homeschool laws or compulsory attendance laws.
Diploma and Transcript
A diploma represents the completion of a course of study that has been prepared for your student’s education. In the case of most homeschooled students, parents set the requirements and when they are reached, they issue a diploma to verify completion, and the parent should sign and date the diploma. A homeschooled student can also receive a diploma from a correspondence school or a distance learning program.
A diploma should be accompanied by a transcript. A transcript is a record of the courses that were completed, the final grades, and important educational experiences (interests, sports, leadership skills) that were completed in grades 9-12 in order to receive the diploma.
Because home instruction is a lawful form of education in Virginia, parents have inherent authority to issue a diploma as evidence of graduation from that program. State agencies and public schools do not have the statutory authority to issue or verify homeschool diplomas because they did not create the program of study and they did not verify course completion.
A diploma supported by a transcript is very important. The transcript should be created for grades 9-12 indicating the course names, grades, credits, GPA, and graduation date.
No one can anticipate the opportunities that may present themselves in the future. The request for a diploma is a standard requirement for the job market and for further educational opportunities. A diploma is required–and the validity of a homeschool diploma is well accepted–by public four-year colleges, the U.S. military, a wide variety of other post-secondary training opportunities, and federal college loan programs. Many corporations require local human resource (HR) departments to verify completion of high school by requesting a diploma—even though the applicant may have previously been in the job market.
A diploma and transcript show:
- an important benchmark in the educational process;
- the hard work and academic achievement of the student;
- acquired knowledge of specific subjects;
- determination and willingness to take advantage of learning opportunities; and
- the development of work habits, career skills, and good character that can prepare a student for the future.
A parent-created transcript and parent-signed diploma are accepted as evidence of graduation by community colleges, state and private colleges, the military, federal financial aid, and the workforce.
If you’re uncertain about creating your own diploma and transcript, HEAV can help with these services. HEAV’s homeschool transcript service is designed to guide you through the ins and outs of creating a college- or career-ready transcript.
The deluxe diploma was designed especially for HEAV and is printed in rich black ink on parchment. This certificate will be inscribed with the graduate’s name, date of graduation (June 10, 2017), and the parents’ names or family school name. An engraved seal and gold ribbon corners adorn the diploma–it is NOT a stick-on seal and printed corners as seen on other diplomas. It is encased in a beautiful, padded navy case with matching seal.
The decision whether or not to have a graduation ceremony is up the parents and graduate, but many families like to mark this important milestone in some way. It can be a simple family and friends get-together, a special day with a homeschool co-op, or a traditional commencement ceremony such as the one HEAV hosts at the annual Virginia homeschool convention.
HEAV Graduation Ceremony
Hosted by HEAV at the annual homeschool convention every June, the HEAV graduation offers your student the chance to mark this milestone in a godly ceremony.
Listen to Lorraine SantaLucia’s workshop, “Demystifying Finding Aid for Higher Education.”
Homeschool graduate, Maiya Drennen, offers up alternatives for students who don’t feel led to go to college right away.
More questions? Check out more questions and answers from “Homeschool Q&A,” the popular feature in HEAV’s weekly e-newsletter, the Virginia Homeschool Update.
Get more high school information and resources here!