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High school at home: options in Alberta

Do you have a child that needs to complete high school courses for their chosen career, but they require flexibility and personalization in their studies? Consider taking a high school program through home education. Children can home educate and receive supervised program funding up until they are 20 years old on September 1 of that year.

The high school system is like a buffet. If one school board doesn’t offer a particular course title or format (live, online, or correspondence), students may take the course from another school board, or self-teach through home education by meeting the course outcomes posted on Alberta Education’s website.

To receive a government issued Alberta High School Diploma, students must acquire at least 100 credits and meet the government requirements for credits by completing outcomes in certain courses.

Be aware that contrary to what most people believe, a child doesn’t need to present an Alberta High School Diploma to achieve acceptance into a post-secondary school. For most universities and colleges, what is required for admission is the four Grade 12 core courses and an option. 

My son was in his second year of an engineering program at university when he finally got that last credit and received his Alberta High School Diploma. Consult the post-secondary school websites of the program your child is hoping to enter and note which courses are required. Then decide the best way to achieve the mark and credit.

High school can follow several routes when you are home educating, depending on the child’s goals. As of 2020, home education can be done via two programs: 

  • The supervised home education program is where a child notifies a willing, supervising, non-resident, home education supportive school board or independent school for the year and receives funding and high school course assessment. 
  • The unsupervised home education program is where a parent notifies the government that the child is being educated without board supervision and receives no funding or assessment.

There are five routes for children looking for alternative ways to meet post-secondary admission requirements and/or finish their education at home: 

 

Route One – Traditional Home Education

Available for: Supervised Home Education and Unsupervised Home Education programs.

One route is to do a traditional, parent/student-directed high school program that meets the 22 outcomes of the “Schedule of Learning Outcomes for Students Receiving Home Education Programs That Do Not Follow the Alberta Programs of Study,” or SOLO for short. Because the child is not meeting outcomes of high school courses from the Alberta Programs of Study, they will not receive a government issued High School Diploma or course credits.

Some parents issue course marks and a transcript from their “family home-school” and/or the supervising school/board may also issue a certificate of home education completion, but as this document is not issued by Alberta Education, it may not be universally recognized. Check with the intended post-secondary institution to see if they accept parent-awarded diplomas.

Will a diploma be awarded? No.

Will my child get the courses required for university entrance? No.

 

Route Two – Complete Just the Grade 12 Courses in a School Classroom or Online

Available for: Supervised Home Education and Unsupervised Home Education programs.

Another route is to learn at home on a traditional home education program (whether supervised or unsupervised) for Grades 1 to 11, and then take a school-taught Grade 12 course to get marks and credits retroactively. These courses will appear on an Alberta government transcript. At the age of 19, considered the age of maturity in Alberta Education, any student may take the Grade 12 level of any course without taking the prerequisite Grade 10 and 11 courses.

Will a diploma be awarded? No.

Will my child get the courses required for university entrance? Yes.

 

Route Three – Complete Just the Grade 12 Courses under Home Education

Available for: Supervised Home Education.

If the student is under 19 and has completed self-directed or home education instruction in a diploma examination course, they are eligible to write the Grade 12 diploma exams and receive course marks and credits. A supervising school/board principal will review the course portfolio under Section 6 of the Home Education Regulations and award marks and credits if most of the course outcomes have been achieved.

If your child is older than 19 years old, they just need to sign up and write the diploma exam for the course. No proof of course study needs to be assessed by the supervising school/board.

Will a diploma be awarded? No.

Will my child get the courses required for university entrance? Yes.

 

Route Four – Write Just the Grade 12 Diploma Exams under Home Education

Available for: Supervised Home Education (for a course mark) and Unsupervised Home Education programs.

At the age of 19 years of age or older as of September 1 of the current school year, all students are considered mature students and may challenge the government diploma exams. The diploma exam mark will stand for 100 percent of the course mark and credits without having taken the course or the prerequisites. If the student does study a Grade 12 course (either in school or home education), the final course mark will be the greater of either the diploma exam mark or a combination of 70 percent of the course work mark and 30 percent of the exam mark. Credits may be awarded retroactively in certain instances.

Will a diploma be awarded? No.

Will my child get the courses required for university entrance? Yes.

 

Route Five – Course Challenge for Any High School Course

Available for: Supervised Home Education.

If the child wants a full Alberta Education issued diploma and not just Grade 12 courses, they can home educate under a supervising school/board and challenge individual courses. They study the course material from textbooks (a list of course textbooks is available at the albertahomeschooling.ca website), The Key Study Guides and the learnalberta.ca website. They may hire tutor help when they are stuck. 

When finished, they request a formal assessment from the supervising board to get marks and credits. Usually, the principal examines the child’s course portfolio to see if outcomes have been achieved and issues a school exam worth 30 percent of the final grade. Grade 10 and 11 courses do not have a diploma exam, so these are the final marks that go on the Alberta government transcript.

The course challenge acknowledges that learning happens in a variety of settings, not just in schools.

There is flexibility and personalization in course work of core and option courses for high school subjects. Discuss the degree of flexibility allowed with the prospective supervising school/board.

Will a diploma be awarded? Yes.

Will my child get the courses required for university entrance? Yes.

These are five routes for children who are looking for alternative ways to meet post-secondary admission requirements or finish their home education learning at home. For more information and additional resources, please visit albertahomeschooling.ca/highschool.html.

Judy is a certified brain and child development specialist and master of non-punitive parenting and education practices. She is the founder of Unschooling Canada Association and is the bestselling author of five print books translated into five languages. Her latest book, Unschooling To University: Relationships Matter Most in a World Crammed with Content, is becoming a bestseller in an age of parents seeking educational options. Albertahomeschooling.ca, unschoolingtouniversity.com

 

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