By Lee Binz
You are responsible for making sure your comprehensive homeschool records accurately reflect what your student has learned. You need to include all classes on homeschool records. This includes co-op classes. Please note, this post contains affiliate links. If you click and purchase, I may make a few pennies, but sadly not enough for a latte.
Let me explain how to put homeschool co-op classes on your high school records. These clear instructions do not imply that you should join a co-op or that they are somehow superior classroom settings, because that’s not true. Homeschool co-ops are merely one tool parents can use to educate their children. For some parents and children, co-op classes are the perfect fit. All homeschool experiences need to go on high school records.
Please note, this post contains affiliate links. If you click and purchase, I may make a few pennies, but sadly not enough for a latte.
Homeschool Co-op Classes on High School Records
Usually co-op instructors are not certified teachers. Plus, they only see your child for perhaps an hour each week. Unless the co-op is an accredited program or affiliated with state-sponsored oversight, it is still your job to provide grades for the high school transcript. Each grade should reflect all their learning experiences, not only one experience. Co-op grades only represent a portion of each subject grade on a transcript.
When outside classes are taken at an online or brick and mortar school, the homeschool transcript grade should look exactly like the transcript grade that comes from that school. If your student takes classes at a community college, high school, alt ed program, or accredited online school, you must use their grades and each institution sends a transcript directly to the colleges your child is interested in attending. In fact, if your child has withdrawn from public school, classes taken there can be listed on the homeschool transcript as well.
But homeschool co-ops are not schools; they are parent-led classes with shared responsibilities or hired teachers knowledgeable in a subject. They do not provide transcripts but they do often provide feedback on how your child is doing in class. When a homeschool co-op gives a grade, it's only a serving suggestion based on their interactions with your student.
A homeschool co-op is a tool you can use to educate your child. Like a textbook or hands-on learning, the information should go on homeschool records. You know more than they do about the learning your child is accomplishing as you see the entire picture.
Co-Op Classes on a Transcript
Your child’s transcript grade should reflect everything learned, not only what takes place in a classroom setting one day a week. On the transcript, include the class title, credit value, and grade.
A class title doesn’t need to be the same name as the co-op class, although it can be. As an independent homeschooler, you can choose the perfect class title that is detailed enough to describe what is learned, while still fitting in the space provided on your transcript.
The credit value may be indicated by a homeschool co-operative. They may say, “this is a full high school credit,” indicating the weight you should put on the transcript. Sometimes you may need to consider the credit value on your own. One hour per day all year counts as one credit. Completing one whole textbook on the subject also counts as one credit. If your child worked one hour per day for half the year, it counts as half a credit.
A grade is the summary of all methods of evaluation. It includes work done at a co-op, at home, the evaluation from the co-op teacher, your own evaluation, and can also include learning completed inside and outside the class.
A co-op class may be combined with non-co-op learning to form a larger learning experience. You can combine co-op classes together, such as putting together one literature class and one composition class to make a “Literature and Composition” credit. You can combine co-op classes with homeschool resources and create a unique class that’s a perfect fit for your learner. For example, if your child took a brief co-op class on SAT® preparation, you can add it to work done at home to create a full credit class. For example, you might supplement it with the Great Courses class, How to Become a SuperStar Student, 2nd Edition, and Advanced Communication Series by the Institute for Excellence in Writing. All these pieces are like unit studies inside a larger class which could be called “College Study Skills.”
Acronym for Outside Classes
There are many ways to include a co-op class on the transcript. You may want to highlight that the class was taken in the co-op. Or you may not want the information to be included, you only want to know how to get it on the transcript the right way. Let me describe those two options.
Option #1. Emphasize Classes Taken at a Co-op
Emphasizing the co-op class can be particularly helpful when you want to document socialization. This option is helpful when you don’t have many outside activities to document, your child struggles with socialization, or to emphasize membership and leadership. Choose an acronym for the co-op, such as “MHC” and define your acronym on the bottom of the transcript, "MHC indicates classes taken at Manhattan Homeschool Co-op." A class title could be "MHC: Biology with Lab." You can choose whether to use the grade provided by the co-op. If your child was involved for all four years, the activity section of your transcript might include "Manhattan Homeschool Co-op 9, 10, 11, 12 - Yearbook Editor 12."
Option #2. Emphasize Homeschool Independence
You can choose not to mention the class was taken at a co-op on the transcript. This is particularly helpful when the class will be a combination of co-op and home, you feel the co-op was only a portion of the content of the class, or it didn't represent the whole class. It's also great if you are radically independent, like me, and want to proudly display your independent homeschool. If you choose not to mention the co-op, then simply provide the name of the class, "Biology with Lab."
My preference is to list the co-op class only on the activity list. I don't think there is any reason to include the co-op on the class title and I worry that a college might not understand, and might mistakenly look for a transcript from the co-op to complete the application.
Whether or not you include the information on the transcript, I do recommend including co-op membership on the activity list and co-op classes in course descriptions.
Co-Op Classes on the Activity List
Homeschool classes are like a group or membership that can be included on your child’s activity list. Inclusion of a homeschool co-op on your activity list can demonstrate socialization and active membership in group activities.
Include an abbreviated activity list on the transcript to show interests and abilities beyond schoolwork. When submitting a homeschool transcript to a college, you are trying to convey a three-dimensional teenager on one piece of paper. You don't want to imply academics only, you are trying to show a real person and their education. Use the activity list to your child’s advantage. A homeschool co-op on the transcript might look like this:
Class title: LHC Honors World History
Transcript notation: LHC indicates classes taken at Legacy Homeschool Co-op Educators Group
Abbreviated activity list: Member of Legacy Homeschool Cooperative 2015-2018
The entire abbreviated activity list would include other meaningful activities; co-op membership is only one item on the list. Include the most meaningful, four-year duration activities and the most prestigious activities first. The less important activities, that spanned less than four years should go last.
Soccer Team 9, 10, 11. Swim Team 9, 10, 11 - Coaches Award 10. Competitive Chess 9, 10, 11 - Student Teacher 9, 10, 11. Member of Legacy Homeschool Cooperative 9, 10, 11. Youth Mission Team 10. Youth Group 9, 10, 11. Worship Band 10, 11.
Create a separate and much longer activity list as well, with additional details on all items on the abbreviated list. On this separate activity list, you’ll have space to include more details, such as the months and years of membership, and whether the activity was volunteer or a paid position. The activity list can help with college admission and creating a resume.
Course Descriptions for Co-Op Classes
It’s important to create a course description for homeschool co-op classes, whether they are core classes or electives. It’s as important as any other class. A great course description includes three ingredients: a paragraph describing what you did, a list of what you used, and a description of how you graded.
For co-op classes, the paragraph might easily be saved during the registration process, to copy and paste from the online description of the classes. However, sometimes these descriptions are intended to make the class fun and intriguing for a teen, and are less descriptive and formal than they should be. Make sure the descriptive paragraph clearly explains each class in a formal way.
The list of what you did can include everything your child was assigned for the co-op class. Include what you purchased for class, as well as what you used to supplement the class. Omit any resources you did not use. Books can be included whether your child read them, used an audio book, or you read them aloud. Include any field trips or activities related to the subject.
Provide a description of how you graded. You can do so simply, with a note that the grade was provided by the co-op.
Final grade provided by Legacy Homeschool Cooperative. Grading Criteria: Tests and Exams 60%, Classwork and Homework 40%. Final Grade for Algebra 1: 94% overall for 4.0.
List how you determined your child’s grade, knowing that you are the final authority on what your child has learned and accomplished. After all, you can see the whole picture, not only the hour your child spent in a classroom setting.
Grading criteria: 1/3 Daily Work, 1/3 Class Participation, 1/3 Tests and Quizzes
Final Grade for Algebra 1: 94% overall for 4.0.
You could go into detail about the final grade, listing each test, quiz, lab, or assignment. I find that the more details you include, the more information colleges can use to award scholarships. Creating a chart showing your grading calculation based on assignments can help demonstrate the rigor of your child’s homeschool education.
How to Cope with Failure at a Homeschool Co-op
The only time you must use outside grades is when it is a school, parent partnership, or public school program. If they give you a transcript then you need to use the grade they give for the class. If they don't give you a transcript then their grades are a serving suggestion like the grocery store advertisement that suggests a recipe for roast beef. You still have the option of slicing it for a stir-fry, instead.
Seven Strategies for Failed Homeschool Co-op Classes
1. Include only successful education
You could decide to include only successful classes on the transcript. Your child could withdraw, drop, or audit classes that aren't successful. This is most helpful when the child failed through no fault of their own, for example a poor fit class at a co-op or a curriculum mismatch.
Within the first month or two of co-op classes, do a quick evaluation to decide if it’s a good fit. Your child can drop the class without penalty or make an immediate change if needed. Your job is to successfully educate your child, not to stay with a system that is not supporting that goal. Homeschooling works because you can constantly adapt without getting the school board involved; you can turn on a dime. Take this advantage to heart and be flexible.
2. Grade based on all methods of evaluation
You do need to make sure that the grade on the transcript is the total of all evaluations and not only tests. For example, a homeschool teacher at a co-op sees your child one day a week. You instruct the other four days and can evaluate the rest of the time. Your full grade is based on everything - co-op work and work done outside of the co-op.
As the co-op class begins, pay attention to your child’s performance on tests. If they are unable to pass the test provided, either the curriculum is not a fit or the evaluation should be done in a different way. You can speak to the co-op teacher to determine options available.
3. Accommodate for learning challenges
Make sure the way you assess your child is a good fit for their learning style. Evaluations can include oral reports, oral tests, and quizzes. You can read textbooks aloud. You can change the evaluations to meet your child.
Struggling learners in a public school would be allowed accommodation for their challenges. As independent homeschoolers, you can do this as well, without an official diagnosis, based on your knowledge of your child. Your goal is to help your child learn, not set them up for consistent negative feedback.
4. Allow extra credit
As the teacher, you can allow extra credit assignments to increase the grade. Allow your child to re-take a test or complete a culminating project to boost the grade to a pass. This works best for immediate feedback. I would never suggest you go back to last year's class and assign extra credit on a subject that has long since ended.
When co-op is over, or on weekends, boost the grade by determining extra credit projects that are a good fit. Visits to a museum for art, a zoo for biology, or the beach for marine biology could give that boost. A summary video series such as High School Level-Early American History: Native Americans through the Forty-Niners for American history or High School Level World History: The Fertile Crescent to The American Revolution for World History could fill in gaps and provide additional hours and instruction you can use to increase the grade when the videos are completed.
5. Repeat the class
If a teen has completely failed a class and did not learn the material, then something has gone wrong. If it's not a motivation or resistance issue, then it's probably a curriculum mismatch. If the class is needed for graduation requirements, then repeating the class is the best choice. Choose a better curriculum fit and start the class over. This will allow your child to replace the previous grade earned with a completely new grade.
It’s best to avoid the situation if you can or change the situation early in the year. When using a co-op class, have a daily or weekly meeting with your child, Review the assignments, talk about what they have learned, and try to determine if there is a problem. Homeschool success comes from a close involvement in the learning process.
6. Provide feedback with lower grades
There are times when you need to admit your child failed. It wasn't your fault, it wasn't a problem with curriculum, and the co-op did a valiant effort to educate your child. Sometimes a failed grade is the result of rebellion, serious trouble, or sin nature. Sometimes kids fail. Even sweet and kind children can decide, "Nope! Math's not for me!" At these times, your best bet may be to give a failing grade. You can provide feedback by giving an F.
If your child has refused to work on a coo-op class, the problem does not end with a failed grade. Evaluate possible causes: depression, addiction, drug or alcohol use, bullying, pornography, or mental health issues. Bad things can happen even to good homeschool parents. To discover these problems, look past the immediate feedback, and search deeply for a root cause.
7. Transcript grades are a summary
If you are assigning a failing grade, be sure to give credit for what was successfully achieved. Give credit for the hours completed and the work done. When parents make a change mid-term, it’s tempting to think that none of it counted. Instead, think of it like moving to a new school district. All the hours and work at the first school are still counted at the new school.
Suppose your child completed the assignments for the first three months of school and then decided not to do any more history for the remainder of the year. You might decide on a C for the first month, a C for the second month, and a C for the third month, then Fs for the final three months of the school year. This could mean the overall grade summary is a D. You don't want to present the whole year grade summary without taking the whole year into context.
Don’t get cooped up in a homeschool co-op if it doesn’t fit your family
Do include the homeschool co-op classes completed on your high school records
Homeschool fads come and go over the years, and recently I’ve seen many parents utilizing homeschool co-op classes. Because of the current popularity, some parents feel as if they should join a homeschool co-op because “everyone is doing it.” But that’s simple peer pressure talking – the kind of thing we warn our teenagers about. For more information about the homeschool co-op fad, and how to determine if one is a good fit for you, please see my article, “Cooped up in a Co-Op”.
Don’t join groups or try something new because someone else is doing it. Avoid peer pressure - even pressure from other well-meaning homeschool parents! If you do decide a homeschool co-op is for your family, include it on your child’s records like you include all other curriculum, groups, field trips, and experiences. Also, be sure to include co-op academics on the transcript, course descriptions, and activity list.
How to Put Co-Op Classes on Homeschool Records
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Lee Binz, The HomeScholar, specializes in helping parents homeschool high school. Get Lee's FREE Resource Guide "The 5 Biggest Mistakes Parents Make Homeschooling High School" and more freebies at www.HomeHighSchoolHelp.com/freebies.