Accreditation, that age-old question

HomeLife Academy is a non-traditional PreK-12 private school serving homeschoolers in all 50 states and internationally.  We provide “legal covering” in four (4) states – Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, and Colorado.  We are established in each of these states as an approved school by the state and provide our services as a private school throughout the U.S. and abroad.  Please click on the state links above for more information about our school.

As an established private school, HomeLife Academy is exempt from regional accreditation requirements; however, we maintain membership with the Association of Christian Schools International.  Our decision to remain members, rather than to seek full accreditation, is tied directly to our mission statement: “We believe that God gives every child unique and wonderful gifts to use for His glory and honor.  Our mission is to inspire and equip parents to help develop those gifts.” We, therefore, do not want to govern curriculum and education choices for our students.

We provide parents with the freedom to choose their curriculum and coursework within the general structure and credit requirements we have established for graduation.  Every family establishes an individual education plan for each of their children, which is annually reviewed by our staff. As a homeschool program, HomeLife Academy does not offer any onsite campus-based courses.  The parent-teacher is directly responsible for the administration of the individualized education plan and coursework at home.

Due to the nature of our program, HomeLife Academy does not directly offer any sports or extracurricular activities.  Students and parent-teachers may participate in programs outside of HomeLife Academy and utilize HomeLife’s record-keeping services to document their participation.

What you must realize is that not all public schools are accredited.  Colleges and universities are often not looking for an accredited transcript but instead college entrance exam scores, portfolios, good interview skills, and generally well-rounded students.  Trends indicate that post-secondary schools are beginning to get away from basing admission solely on accreditation and ACTs or SATs and looking at a more holistic view of the students.  Generally, it is technical schools, private trade schools, and government employment agencies that are looking for accreditation, and usually, after sending them a letter explaining our program along with our school profile, they accept our transcripts and diplomas with no problem.  Below you will find both of these documents for your use:

HLA Letter of Explanation

2020 Class Profile

From HSLDA’s website:  Do I need an “accredited” diploma? If so, how do I get one? Some colleges and employers look down on a homeschool diploma (they want it to be state-certified).
The quick answer is, “No.” However, there are some schools and organizations that have received accreditation from an accrediting body, and their diplomas are generally considered to be accredited. To obtain an accredited diploma, a student must complete graduation requirements from a school—whether it be correspondence or on-campus—that is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization. Public high schools are not necessarily accredited. Therefore, the diplomas they issue would not be accredited either. However, colleges and universities generally recognize these public high school diplomas as if they were given by accredited organizations.

HLA transcripts and diplomas are accepted at colleges and universities in the US and internationally. HLA is a Tier 1 school for the military and NCAA eligible. HLA has chosen not to seek accreditation to give families full freedom and flexibility with their homeschool choices. There is rarely any concern regarding the acceptance of transcripts and diplomas from non-accredited institutions except when returning to a public or private school high school where placement tests may be required.

HLA is best suited for families who intend to home-educate through graduation. If your child chooses to transfer to a public or private school, that school may require placement tests to determine the student’s grade placement and may or may not accept all credits completed while homeschooling.

There are five (5) categories of schools in Tennessee.
Category I schools are state-approved/accredited schools. These are schools that are evaluated and inspected by the Tennessee Department of Education, and many times follow the same requirements that a public school would have.
Category II schools are agency-approved/accredited. These are schools that are accredited by a private accrediting agency. The private accrediting agency must be approved by the Tennessee Department of Education. These schools are evaluated and inspected by the accrediting agency.
Category III schools are regionally accredited. These are schools that are accredited by a regional accrediting body such as SACS or AdvancEd.
Category IV schools are Church-related Schools. These schools are not accredited. They operate under T.C.A. 49-50-801 and must be a member of an association listed in that statute. HLA is a member of good standing with the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), but can also be a local association such as TACRS or TANAS.
Category V schools catch “other” types of schools that seek to operate in Tennessee.  They are “acknowledg[ed] to operate” in the state.  These schools are not accredited and can not include home schools.
Can Category IV schools be accredited? 
No, only Categories I, II, and III schools are accredited. By the nature of a Category IV school, they cannot be accredited (per the TN Department of Education). Accreditation requires oversight in many areas, one being curricula.  The curricula that a family chooses to use must be on a list of approved curricula and meet the accrediting agencies’ guidelines. Any curricula that do not fall within the accrediting agencies’ guidelines would not be allowed. This may help if a Category IV school seeks accreditation (which it can), it would then become a Category I, II, or III depending on the which accreditation it receives. It would no longer be a Category IV school.
If I am enrolled in a TN school that is designated as a Category II (accredited) and a Category IV (non-accredited) as a homeschooler, can I receive an accredited transcript and diploma if I am registered in the Category IV school?  See the list of Non-Public Schools in TN here.
No, since umbrella schools (Category IV) cannot be accredited, “these schools [having both Category II and IV designations] must designate students as either enrolled in the accredited school or enrolled in the homeschool program.” (Statement from the TN Department of Education)
Homeschooled students MAY enroll in the Category II school (if allowed) but would then be a Category II student and be required to meet the Category II guidelines for accreditation, including the use of approved curricula, and would, therefore, not be considered a Category IV student. Students can be enrolled in a Category IV school program and take classes with a Category II school (if allowed). The courses taken would be considered accredited courses, but this does not make the Category IV student’s transcript or diploma accredited.
0520-07-02-.03 CATEGORY II: AGENCY ACCREDITATION. (3) Homeschools which may affiliate with an approved agency are not approvable under this category.

If you have more questions or need more clarity, you can contact Dan Beasley at HSLDA or Linda Hayes, TN Non-public Schools.

If you are in a situation that needs an accredited program, please visit our accredited online sister school, ArchwayOnline.

It has been our great pleasure and honor to see HomeLife Academy graduates further their education through attendance at numerous institutions of higher education throughout the United States and abroad.  HomeLife Academy students have been accepted at colleges and universities such as Vanderbilt, M.I.T., West Point, U.S. Air Force Academy & The Citadel, as well as many other state and private colleges and technical schools.

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