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Early High School Credits in Middle School

Homeschoolers may earn high school credits in middle school. If you are sure your middle school child is doing high school level work in an academic subject area like math, science, or foreign language, put that on their high school transcript, and they'll earn early high school credits in middle school. Let me explain how it works.

High School Credits in Middle School

Three Common Courses

There are three courses that are often considered high school credit, even when taken in middle school:

1. Math that is Algebra 1 or higher
2. Science that is high school biology or higher
3. Foreign language that uses high school curriculum

Three Common Exceptions

Occasionally, there will be some exceptions to the rule, and other classes might also be considered for high school credits in middle school:

1. High school classes
Classes taken at a public or private high school, or those that are included on a high school transcript.

2. College level classes
Dual enrollment classes taken at any age are given high school credit. One college class is equivalent to one whole high school credit.

3. Parents know best
Sometimes the parent just knows it's high school level, and knows it's best to include it on the transcript. Similar situations include challenging co-op classes intended only for high school students, or a very advanced curriculum that's usually considered only for high school students or older.

How Do You Know It's High School Level?

Because someone will tell you! Even if your child is young, he or she can still earn high school credit in middle school. If they have done Algebra 1 or higher, high school biology or higher, or high school foreign language, then it does go on the transcript. One way to determine if a class is a high school class is to look at the curriculum description from the producer of the class in question. Often, they will state whether it is a high school class or not.

Electives typically aren't considered high school classes, but an advanced history class might be. It's also a good idea to check your state homeschool requirements to see if there are any regulations for your state regarding this. Just be sure you are looking at homeschool requirements and not public school requirements. They are generally not the same.

Record Keeping 

Three Record Keeping Requirements

Include high school classes taken in middle school on your high school transcript in these three ways. To see how it works, download The HomeScholar Record Keeping Samples to see how to include middle school classes on the high school transcript.

1. Add High School Credits to the Transcript

Why? Because it's honest and true. All high school classes should go on the transcript, without regard to the age of the student. It's not a requirement, and you can certainly decide not to do it if you don't want to. However, recognize that public schools do this, and you can do it too. Assign one credit for a high school level textbook, class, or curriculum.

2. Provide a Grade

Put a grade for the class on the transcript. Include the grade in the cumulative high school GPA. Add the completion date, with month and year the class was completed. Don't say "8th grade" as the completion, because it wasn't an 8th grade class. It was a high school class that just happened to occur earlier than usual. You may want to create a section on your transcript for early high school credits. This is a real class, and should be included on the transcript the same way the other classes are included.

3. Create a Course Description

The course description will prove the class was high school level. Course descriptions for classes earned early are neither more nor less important than other classes. Course descriptions can always improve the chances of college scholarships since they describe a rigorous college-prep education.

Public School Examples 

I'm sure there are many public school examples of middle school classes on the high school transcript. I've seen these examples from multiple clients over the years, as I've worked with parents to create their high school transcripts.

Frederick County Public Schools website describes their policy:

"The Maryland State Board of Education allows local boards of education to grant graduation credit to middle school students who take high school courses in middle school. These courses must have the same expectations, curriculum, and final exams as the equivalent courses taught in high school.The following FCPS middle school courses have been identified for high school credit:
• Algebra 1
• Geometry
• World Language levels 1 & 2 (i.e. German 1, 2; Spanish 1, 2; Latin 1, 2; French 1, 2, etc.)
Students who pass these courses and the final exam will automatically be granted high school credit. These grades will be reflected on the student's high school transcript and included in cumulative GPA calculations."

And there was an article in The Columbus Dispatch a few years ago, called "Middle-schoolers get additional shots at taking high-school courses." In Hilliard, 8th graders are eligible to take classes for high-school credit, including science, math, and foreign languages.

The angle that the public school article takes is interesting. They claim that allowing students to take high school classes early will lead to burnout, similar to young athletes who burn out when too much sport is allowed too soon. The article goes on to say that the public school works closely with the parents to decide whether it is a good idea to allow middle school students to take those early classes. The beauty of homeschooling is you know your student best, and you know when they are ready. Homeschooling is a go-at-your-own-pace world, and our kids often thrive because of it.

If middle school is causing you to have anxiety, never fear! You can read my short Coffee Break Book and formulate a plan for success quickly. Read Homeschooling Middle School with Powerful Purpose: How to Successfully Navigate 6th through 8th Grade.

Learn more about Homeschooling Middle School With Powerful Purpose in my video review below!  

Will your child earn early high school credits?

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