Home Schooling On the Rise in Virginia Schools

Over the years, the Virginia schools (like many school systems across the nation) have been losing their public school students to home schooling. Henry County, for example, has seen an increase in home-schooled students from eight to 99 over the past 11 years.

In April 1999, the nation watched in horror the news reports on Colorado’s Columbine High School shootings, where 12 students and one teacher were fatally shot and 24 others were wounded by two teens who then killed themselves. Afterwards, the Virginia schools saw a steady increase of applications from parents who wished to home school their children.

Though the number of children who are home schooled has continued to increase within the Virginia schools, the reasons have changed. Though school violence and security remains to be a primary concern of Virginia schools’ parents, they now have a variety of other reasons, including:

o Too much emphasis on the standardized testing now required within the Virginia schools, fearing their children are being taught only to pass tests rather than a focus on actual learning that is retained and useful later in life; home-schooled children are not required to take the Standards of Learning (SOL) tests;

o The ability of Virginia schools’ children to adjust to the middle and high school environments; many parents home school their children during the middle school years and place them back into the Virginia schools for high school;

o Virginia schools’ parents’ perception of negative influences within the traditional school environment; this is especially true for families with strong religious beliefs; and

o Some Virginia schools’ parents simply want to keep their children at home for a longer period, placing them back within the Virginia schools for high school.

Religious Exemption. If a parent applies for release of their child from the Virginia schools for religious reasons, they are exempt from enrolling their child in any other form of education through age 18. They may wish to do so and can, but they are not required to do so by the Virginia schools. If they do enroll the child elsewhere or home schooling, they also are not required to keep the Virginia schools apprised of the child’s progress.

Other Exceptions. In order for parents to home school their children, other than under the religious exemption, they must meet one of four requirements developed by the Virginia schools:

o Requirement 1 — Effective July 1, 2006, the parent, who will be teaching the child, must have a high school diploma and provide to the Virginia schools a description of the curriculum he/she plans to use for the child. The child does not have to meet Virginia schools’ graduation requirements and receives no diploma; however, progress must be shown to the Virginia schools at the end of each year.

o Requirement 2 — The parent, who will be teaching the child, must have a current teacher certification and provide to the Virginia schools a description of the curriculum he/she plans to use for the child. The child does not have to meet Virginia schools’ graduation requirements and receives no diploma; however, here too progress must be shown to the Virginia schools at the end of each year.

o Requirement 3 — Parent enrolls child into a Virginia schools’ recognized correspondence home school. There are approximately 19 such schools across the nation. A list may be obtained from the Virginia schools. Correspondence schools are private businesses that operate as schools, charging for their services. They usually cost $800 to $1,200 annually per student, though some charge as much as $4,000 a year. The more you pay, the more services you get, including report cards, transcripts and diplomas. Though coursework is administered by the parent, he/she has no educational level requirement. The child meets the graduation requirements of the correspondence school; however, progress must be shown to the Virginia schools at the end of each year.

o Requirement 4 — No educational level must be met by the parent teaching the child. They must provide to the Virginia schools a description of the curriculum he/she plans to use for the child, which must include the Virginia schools’ SOL in language arts and mathematics. The child does not have to meet Virginia schools’ graduation requirements and receives no diploma; however, progress must be shown to the Virginia schools at the end of each year.

Description of the curriculum in requirements one, two and four above includes a list of the subjects that will be taught and the textbooks that will be used for language arts and mathematics.

In all four requirements above, the child’s academic progress must be proved to the Virginia schools either with SOL test scores (the child would have to submit to testing by the Virginia schools and score above the 23rd percentile) or through a provided a portfolio of the child’s work.

Beware Of Paralegal Online Degree Schools

Distance learning has been around for a long time as correspondence schools, but today there is a proliferation of online schools of all sorts of programs including paralegal studies. However, this article aims to warn you not to jump on the first online school you come about.

Distance learning is a big relief in both time and cost. It affords you the opportunity to do your course without leaving home or work. Tuition fee and other cost are usually much less when compared to what traditional schools charge. And you are allowed to pay your fees on a monthly basis unlike paying a lump sum as is the case with traditional schools..

Now that you have considered some of the favorable factors associated with online paralegal degree program, the other very crucial factor you must consider is whether the school you are about enrolling with is accredited or not Many schools online are mere “diploma/degree mills”.

To study with a none accredited school amounts to buying your degree because most of such schools teach next to nothing. Meaning that your degree will be worthless both for you and your prospective employer. Do not waste your hard earned money on a useless online degree or diploma program.

To ensure that you do not get scammed to lose your valuable time and money, it is your duty to investigate the school you intend to study with. Find out all you can about it. Locate past students and find out what was their experiences.

Only fill out the application form and make any payment after you have convinced yourself that your intended online school is worth your time and money by being accredited by the state authority within which jurisdiction its is situated.

Although distance learning via online schools is a great opportunity for you to become a paralegal or any other career development, do not wish to just get a degree. It is best that you study your course thoroughly and become knowledgeable in the discipline.

What You Need to Know About Accredited Correspondence Schools

Accredited correspondence schools are learning institutions that have been evaluated by an accrediting organization for standards, guidelines and policies relating to academic quality.

Looking to make sure a school is accredited is extremely important before enrolling in any of its distance learning programs. There are some “Diploma mills” that provide degrees not even worth the paper they’re printed on, and these are generally correspondence schools, sometimes with only a PO Box as an address.

In other words, the primary concern with diploma mills is that the degree, certification or credential that they provide to the student for a sometimes large fee will not be accepted by employers, state licensing agencies or even by other schools if transfer of credit is attempted. By attending accredited correspondence schools, you avoid the risk of paying for a worthless diploma.

If you are attempting to obtain federal grants or loans for tuition expenses, it is essential to look for accredited correspondence schools. This is true for some state financial aid programs as well. Employer tuition reimbursement programs usually require that the school be accredited. In order to obtain a state license in some professional fields, school accreditation is required. It is always safest to enroll in accredited correspondence schools or educational programs.

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) provides accreditation information on colleges and universities and on accrediting organizations. Seventeen of these accrediting organizations review distance learning schools. The CHEA recommends that you contact the administrators of the facility you are considering and ask for their accreditation credentials; date accreditation received, date of last review, name of accrediting organization, etc.

If it is not one of the accredited correspondence schools, the CHEA recommends that you ask about the transferability of credits and courses to other colleges or universities and the acceptance of credits and courses by licensing bodies and employers.

There are sometimes explanations for a lack of accreditation, since the accreditation process is a lengthy one, so it may not be necessary to rule out a school that is not one of the accredited correspondence schools listed by the CHEA or another accrediting organization, but be certain to obtain references from previous students, faculty, employers in your field or state licensing boards.