Jun 18, 2010

Homeschooling Question 1: How Do You Get Accreditation?

from gadgetdude at Flickr.comThis is part 1 of a series of homeschooling questions I would like to answer through this blog. One of the first questions I get asked when people find out that I'm homeschooling my children is this:

How do you get accreditation?

There are four main ways to get accreditation for your children's homeschooling:

Accredited Philippine homeschool programs

One way is by enrolling them in an accredited homeschool program. Some of the best-known ones are The Master's Academy (TMA) and the Catholic Filipino Academy (CFA), the first homeschooling program in the Philippines with a Catholic curriculum.

Foreign homeschool providers

Many homeschoolers in the Philippines are enrolled with foreign homeschool program providers such as Seton Home School and Kolbe Academy. (My kids are enrolled in Kolbe.)

Are these schools accredited in the Philippines? No, they are not BUT they are registered as private schools in the United States. They provide official report cards and transcripts of records that you can provide to schools here should you decide to enroll in a local school. The process is completely the same as if you were transferring your child from a regular private or public school in the United States.

The Philippine Validating Test (PVT)

The third way is by taking the Philippine Validating Exam from the Department of Education.

I deliberately put this as the last option because it involves transacting with the DepEd, and one thing I've learned in all my years as a public school teacher, then later as a homeschool teacher, is that you never want to transact with the DepEd. It's a tedious, time-consuming, and frustrating task.

Still, if you don't want to enroll your kids in a local or foreign program, the DepEd is your most likely recourse towards accreditation.

You only let your kids take the PVT when you want to transfer them to a regular school, because it can be taken only once, not every year. At the time I asked (in 2010), the PVT costs around 100 pesos per level, per subject.

Incidentally, the PVT is taken not only by homeschoolers but also by children who go to regular private schools that have not been accredited by any of the Philippine's school accrediting bodies such as the PAASCU.

In order to be able to take the PVT, you need to keep records of your child's work: answered textbooks, scrapbooks, journals, work portfolio, etc. This is not an exact list. The key is "the more, the better." DepEd needs to be sure that you did educate your child all those years.

Note: If you do not want to transfer your kids to a conventional school but only want a formal assessment of your children's education, do not rely on the PVT. Instead, you can go to a private entity, the Center for Educational Measurement Inc. (CEM). This organization will allow you to test your child per subject, per grade level, at a very affordable fee: around four hundred pesos per test.

The Alternative Learning System

There are Filipino moms who do not believe in subscribing to a curriculum. Instead, we let our children learn life skills -- such as basic literacy, financial literacy, and vocational work -- through actual practice.

For academics, we let them study whatever interests them, be it dinosaurs, Catholic saints, the history of ballet, etc. This is based on the premise that true learning (the kind that stays) only occurs if you are interested in what you are studying.

This is called unschooling. For unschoolers, you can check out DepEd's Alternative Learning System. The nearest public school should be able to give you more information on this.

To take the ALS, you need to be at least 11 years old (for the test that gives you an elementary school diploma) or 15 years old (for the test that gives you a high school diploma).

You can also register with your nearest public school so that your child can get learning modules so that he can pass the ALS exam. Note that these modules are not compulsory. If you have your own well-designed modules and implement them well, your child will probably pass the test.

While the ALS can be an attractive option, be aware that the test is purely in Filipino for all subjects except English, so children who do not speak Filipino well may have trouble taking it.

The backdoor

Some college or high school entrance exams still ask for your child's class ranking.

Philippine Science High School will let your children take their admission test as long as they have grade records (from ALS, PVT, or any accredited homeschool program or foreign private school) that show no grade lower than 85 in English, Math, and Science, and nothing lower than 80 in other subjects.

We have not been able to get definitive information on whether the University of the Philippines accepts independent homeschoolers (i.e., not from an accredited homeschool provider). We've talked to different people and we got different answers. At this article's writing, it is safe to say that the University of the Philippines has its door closed to homeschoolers -- but Ateneo de Manila's door is wide open!

If you're a parent who is determined to enroll your child in schools that do not accept homeschoolers, you can homeschool your child until fourth grade, then take the PVT, then enroll the child in a regular school for the last two years so that the requirements of graduation in regular schools can be fulfilled, and you'll have that class ranking you need for the college or high school you are aiming for.

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