For students graduating as Florida home education students, there are only two documents required by law, but you’ll likely want to have several others to be prepared for the future.
Required by Florida law:
1-2. Letter of Termination and a final evaluation should be sent to the school district. These two documents legally end the home education program. Prior to July 1, 2018, only a Letter of Termination was required if the evaluation deadline hadn’t been reached. The addition of a final evaluation was made so the home education office could answer if someone (such as a college or employer) asked if the student finished homeschooling successfully. The home education office will be able to verify that the education ended in compliance with Florida law and a positive evaluation should anyone ask.
The Letter of Termination doesn’t have to be on a particular form but should include the following information: The student’s full name and date of birth, a parent’s name and signature, address, and some words that tell the district the home education program is finished. Send these–either together or within 30 days of each other, per FL DOE policy–to the school district’s home education office. Keep a copy of them and any verification or receipt sent by the school district with important documents.
Other documentation that should be in place:
3. Affidavit of completion is a document that is legal proof of graduation. A parent signs it in front of a Notary Public. Florida colleges usually have their own versions. A general example is below. Include a place for the parent to sign and date and a notary public to sign and date. Often an Affidavit of Completion is included on the student’s high school transcript.
Sample Affidavit of Completion of High School
I, _______, parent of _____ (student’s name), do hereby certify that this is a true and correct copy of the official high school transcript showing the high school graduation on ______(date) of _____(student’s name) who has been home educated in a Home Education Program directed by ___(parent’s name) in accordance with Florida law (FL s. 1002.41).
A transcript isn’t required under Florida law, but it’s a document that a high school graduate should have. It might be needed for college entrance or by a company considering hiring the graduate. I was asked for a copy of my own high school transcript more than a decade after graduating from college even though I had a number of graduate school credits.
Look for free samples and templates for transcripts online. The style doesn’t matter as public and private high schools use a variety of styles. What does matter? Keep it simple and short, consistent in style throughout, with no spelling or other errors. Be sure it says “Official Transcript” on it.
Note: If a college asks for a copy of an official transcript, put a copy of the transcript in a sealed envelope and sign across the sealed flap. Then put that in another envelope addressed to the office requesting it. Including a copy of the Affidavit of Completion with a notary public’s signature can help. Colleges are used to getting transcripts in this fashion from high schools and, even though homeschoolers put together their own, the colleges may not accept transcripts directly from parents’ or students’ hands.
NOTE: As a homeschool evaluator with 7.5 years experience working with the college admissions committee from the University of Chicago, my alma mater, I’ve consulted with a number of homeschool families to help polish up their transcripts. These tips and those listed in other posts here have helped students get into a variety of colleges including Stanford.
Yes, as a parent running a home education program in accordance with Florida law, I have the right to issue a high school diploma. Type it up using a certificate template on your word processor or order one from a printing company. There are several online who provide fancy diplomas in holders. I’ve only once heard someone say they had to show their diploma to someone, but the graduate should be able to check the box for “high school diploma” on applications.
6. Course descriptions.
Course descriptions give much more information than the transcript, including the titles of textbooks or other materials used and the topics covered, projects done, etc. These may not be needed, but then again, they might. Don’t provide them with college applications unless requested. They demonstrate to colleges and employers the quality of education received. I’ve written more about these in another post.
7. Service Hours.
If community service was done from the summer after 8th grade until the end of high school, documentation for this community service should be kept. It can be useful in pursuing scholarships including the Bright Futures scholarship. Documentation could be on the letterhead of the nonprofit, with contact information for the person supervising and that person’s name and signature, the dates and hours of service, and a brief description of the service. Or this information can be kept on your own form.
Internships with government or businesses might also count, but check to verify.
After starting the process for applying for financial aid (scholarships are considered a form of financial aid), the home education office may verify service hours if sent a copy of the documentation.
All of this documentation is much easier to put together during or immediately after graduation. Trying to remember the courses taken, the topics studied, books used, hours volunteered, etc. months or years later can be very difficult. Not going to college? Employers might require some of this documentation, and many people who don’t plan on going to college change their minds a few years later.
To those graduating: Congratulations! To the parents who got them there: Congratulations, too!
Cheryl Trzasko–homeschool mom and Florida homeschool evaluator for 17 years