Common Core and Private/Homeschooling

The Heritage Institute blog, The Foundry, writes,

New information on Common Core “alignment” by the ACT, SAT, and even GED exams raises questions about the impact Common Core will have on private and homeschooled students and their ability to “opt out” of the federally incentivized standards if they want to apply for college.

…Proponents of the standards have tried to argue that Common Core is optional for states. But alignment of tests like the SAT, ACT, and GED poses new questions about the extent to which states, private schools, and homeschooled students will be compelled to accept national standards and tests.

It’s not just in college admission through the SAT, ACT, and GED, but the validity of a high school diploma that is not aligned with the standards. Institutions of higher education are now under federal U.S. Department of Education rules which require them to validate a high school diploma.    The National Association of College Admission Counseling issued the following policy brief in 2011,

Based on the GAO’s recommendations, the U.S. Department of Education drafted a new rule  defining a high school diploma. Under new Higher Education Act regulations (§ 668.16(p)),  institutions are required to develop and follow procedures for evaluation of the validity of a  student’s high school completion if the institution or the Department of Education has reason to believe that the high school diploma is not valid or was not obtained from an entity approved to provide secondary education. This regulation becomes effective July 1, 2011.

To help institutions identify diplomas that are suspect, the Department will establish and maintain  a list of public and private high schools, populated by surveys from the Department’s National  Center for Education Statistics. Also, the department added two questions to the 2011-12 FAFSA  (print and online) to assist institutions in identifying suspect high school completion.

The question added asks

27.  When you begin college in year 2011-2012 what will be your high school completion status?

High school diploma



None of the above

A home/private school student earning a high school diploma following the regulations in their state should be able to answer “high school diploma.”  But instead they have to check homeschooled or none of the above.  Why?  Because if they check high school diploma they get a box with Q 28.  that asks for the name of their high school and the state.    So by selecting homeschooled or “None of the above” they are essentially admitting that they haven’t completed high school and potentially flagged for review even if they have complied with the laws in their state.

Important Note: The Department will not require institutions to submit documentation for  validation of all students’ high school completion. The vast majority of admission applicants will not require verification, as they come from high schools with which an institution is familiar or appear on the Department’s list of public and private high schools. It is only when an institution  encounters suspect credentials from a high school unfamiliar to the institution and/or the  Department of Education selects a student’s FAFSA for further review that a college or university must initiate and/or demonstrate its procedures for determining the validity of a student’s high school completion.

Remember, in 2009 when President Obama consolidated student loans?  This is part of the reason why.   He who controls the purse, holds the power.   So along with ACT, SAT, and GED alignment student loans can potentially be tied to adhering to national standards?  Tying funding to compliance appears to be the administration’s favorite tool to achieve their goals.

Testing offers another opportunity for  diploma validation.  The Smarter Balanced Assessments or PARCC tests are an integral part of national common core standards,  will be a part of the credential process that will distinguish a “valid” diploma from other high school diplomas from home or private school.

Last year, ACT announced it was partnering with Pearson to develop the “Next Generation” assessments. 

The nonprofit leader in college and career readiness assessment, today announced its plan to launch a “next generation” assessment system spanning early elementary grades through high school. The new system will advance ACT’s mission of helping people achieve education and workplace success by providing students, parents and educators with the information they need to know whether students are on track for success in college and 21st century careers.”

The term “next generation” is also used for the new Next Generation Science Standards that were announced earlier this year, also heavily influenced by Pearson.    Pearson is also involved in providing the curricula for the iPads just purchased by the Los Angeles School district. 

Aligning to national curricula and testing component from early-elementary through high school leads to the  “valid” high school e-transcript that is portable and accepted by college and employers across the United States.   This portable credentialed e-transcript guides the student on the “P-20” seamless pathway from high school through college and career .

Michigan has plans to offer an e-transcript through Parchment. 

“This service facilitates the electronic exchange of transcripts and other admissions documents for all Michigan public and private high schools and colleges. Transcripts and documents are sent through Parchment in a manner compliant with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

In the words of Parchment e-transcripts are “Putting the Train on the Tracks.”    An e-transcript is a  “critical project” in Michigan education reform.

Only those in the national P-20 educational e-system will get the e-transcript or the “ticket”  they need to jump on the train and move toward their final destination in the global e-conomy.  Homeschool and private schools are will be “voluntold” to align or be at a disadvantage in college and career advancement.   Not because home or private school students lack the knowledge but because they lack the ability to gain the coveted credential a national educational testing and tracking system provides to those that align and comply.

The goal of education in the era of Common Core  is to prepare students to become workers for a global economy.  Governor Snyder said,

“…exposing students to careers at an early age, starting with more elementary school tours of businesses. It also includes more coordination between schools and employers to make curriculum less theoretical and more practical.”

That may be the highest goal of Governor Snyder for children but that is not the highest goal of many parents who choose to home or privately educate their children.

Hillsdale College Professor Coupland stated it well,

As long as students are told that the end of education is a job or a career, they will forever be servants of some master.”

“If education has become –as Common Core openly declares– preparation for work in a global economy, then this situation is far worse than Common Core critics ever anticipated. And the concerns about cost, and quality, and yes, even the constitutionality of Common Core, pale in comparison to the concerns for the hearts, minds, and souls of American children.”