Frequently Asked Questions for High School


Read on for more information regarding answers to frequently asked questions about homeschooling your high school aged child.

What courses must my child take to graduate from high school?

Private schools including home based private schools and private independent study programs create their own graduation requirements. If you are enrolled in a PSP, check with your school for requirements. Below are some resources to help your home based private school create graduation requirements.

Can homeschoolers take Advanced Placement (AP) courses and tests?

Advanced Placement courses are courses that either offer an in-depth, advanced study of a subject or explore subjects outside the scope of typical high school coursework. Students headed to college may want to take AP courses in order to facilitate testing out of some college coursework. AP courses on a transcript may also look appealing to college admissions officers. These courses may be taken through private schools or local community colleges. Enrolling in AP courses is NOT a requirement for college admission or for taking college Advanced Placement exams. Homeschoolers have the option of studying any subject in-depth, at an advanced level, so even if your student hasn’t taken courses labeled “AP,” they may still opt to take AP exams at the college level to test out of coursework. Read more about AP courses on the College Board web site.

Can my child earn a diploma?

All schools, including home-based private, public, and charter schools as well as private independent study programs can issue a diploma once the requirements the school has set for graduation are completed. Private and public school independent study students are issued a diploma from their school when they have met the graduation requirements. You may also earn the equivalent of a public school diploma by taking the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE).

What is the CHSPE?

California Education Code section 48412 establishes the California High School Proficiency Exam as a means to earn the legal equivalent of a high school diploma. You may take the test if you are 16 years old OR if you have completed one year at the 10th grade level OR if you will complete one year at the 10th grade level in the semester the test is taken. You are no longer required to attend high school if you pass the test AND your parent/guardian is willing to allow you to stop attending. For further information or to register to take the test, go to

Can homeschoolers take the SAT?

Yes. Homeschoolers may find testing centers, prep classes and register online for the SAT at the College Board Testing Site. You may also find the Homeschoolers and the PSAT article helpful.

Can we teach Driver's Ed at home?

Driver training consists of two parts: the classroom portion and behind the wheel training. Instruction may be done at home through your own school or it may be done at a driver training school. There are also online schools that offer the classroom portion of the instruction.

Once the classroom portion of the instruction is completed, the students must take the written test at the DMV to obtain a permit. You must be 15 ½ years old to obtain a learner’s permit.

Once you hold a permit, the first six hours of driving must be completed with a certified instructor. After the first six hours, the student can complete their driving practice with any licensed driver over 25. After 50 hours of driving time is logged, and the student is 16 years old, they may take the behind the wheel portion of the driving test at the DMV to earn a license. Details on how the permit and licensing process works for students is available on the DMV Site.

Home-based schools may register with the DMV to offer instruction or they may enroll their students in driver training schools. If your school would like to offer training from home, the school must register with the DMV. In 2010, the Department of Motor Vehicles took steps to formalize the process for providing driver training from home. Schools registered through a PSA may request to teach Driver’s Ed/Training at home by writing to the DMV’s Driver Education Unit in Sacramento to make this request. This is a sample letter request: DMV Driver Ed Request. Also, this document gives a list of the forms and instructions for the application process that a school uses to teach at home: Application Instructions – Driver Ed. Have more questions or concerns, contact CHN’s Legal Team.

Can my child enroll in a single course or participate in band or sports at our local public high school?

This is a decision solely up to the public school. Most will not allow homeschoolers to participate unless they belong to a public independent study program. If you are not willing to join a public high school ISP, or one is not available in your area, you might check with private schools and programs in your area, or look into participation at the community college level.

For sports, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) makes the rules for CIF affiliated schools, which includes all public schools. They have stated that homeschoolers are eligible to play only if they are enrolled in a public independent study program. If you intend to participate in sports at the college level, read the frequently asked questions section of the NCAA web page, and remember that there is a limit on the number of semesters a college student can compete, and community college sports do count towards that limit.

Can my child take community college classes while still enrolled in high school?

Most community colleges in California allow concurrent enrollment for high school students. Each college sets it own policy on this matter, so age requirements, available courses, fees, and procedures vary from school to school. Most colleges require that concurrently enrolled students apply for admission and submit a special form from their high school authorizing the student to enroll. A new authorization form from the high school is usually required each semester, and a reapplication for admission is often required each semester. Students from home-based private schools should apply as private school students, and the director or principal of the home-based school may fill out the required paperwork signing as the school principal. Some colleges offer courses for free to students under 18 years old, but some require these students pay regular tuition. Most colleges restrict concurrently enrolled students to two courses maximum per semester, but exceptions can be obtained from the counselor’s office under some circumstances. Your home-based private school, Private School Satellite Program (PSP), or public Independent Study Program (ISP) decides whether to issue high school credit, college credit, or both for the courses taken.

Can a homeschooler go directly from high school to college?

Yes, but each college or university sets its own rules for admission. Contact the admissions office of the colleges you are interested in and ask for admission requirements. Here are some resources you may find helpful:

Can we participate in a graduation ceremony and/or a prom?

Homeschoolers sometimes come together for graduation ceremonies or proms. California Homeschool Network offers a graduation ceremony at the Family Expo every year. Check with your local support group for local ceremonies, proms, and celebrations.

How can my child get a work permit?

California issues two types of work permits. One is referred to simply as a Work Permit and is used for most circumstances. The other is called the Entertainment Work Permit and is for entertainment industry related jobs only.

  • Entertainment Work Permit
    Issued for work in the entertainment industry only by the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DSLE). Information on this work permit is available on the DSLE website. A single form must be filled out and signed by the parent and by the school principal or administrator. The form is available online here. Once completed, the form should be stamped with a school stamp and mailed to your nearest DSLE office. A list of offices is available on the website. Urgently needed permits may be obtained by walk-in at select offices listed on the website.
  • Work Permit
    As a result of the passage of AB 66, a new law regarding work permits went into effect on January 1, 2010. Click here to find answers to some frequently asked questions. You can find answers to more frequently asked questions direct from the California Department of Education on the CDE website.

What is a transcript, and how do we get one?

A transcript is simply a list of courses completed. If you belong to a PSP, you can request a copy of your transcript. If you are the administrator of your home-based private school, it will be your responsibility to create a transcript for your student. There is no one format for a high school transcript. Your transcript may be similar to the traditional list of courses your local public high school offers, or it may look more like a resume or a portfolio. Most traditional transcripts include the school’s name, address, and the student’s name and identifying information at the top, and then list all courses taken and their completion dates. Some also list credits and grades earned.

A home-based private school is not required to issue credit units. If you do want to list credits, credit for courses in high school is often awarded using the Carnegie Unit. One Carnegie Unit is usually defined as 120-190 hours of instruction time over the course of a year. One typical year long course would earn the student one credit. A semester long course would earn ½ credit. A student at a school using Carnegie Units and requiring a total of 24 courses for graduation would need a minimum of 24 credits listed on their transcript. One semester of a community college class is usually awarded a full year credit on a high school transcript.

Not all schools issue letter grades, and not all transcripts list grades. If you do not want to issue grades, you may place a note on your transcript explaining that letter grades are subjective, so credit for each course is awarded when the material has been completed to the school’s satisfaction. If you wish to assign letter grades, the College Board has a white paper that may provide some helpful information. If you assign grades, you may want to list a Grade Point Average (GPA) on your transcript. For a standard A-F grade assignment, a GPA is typically calculated by:

  • Convert your grade for the course to points: A equals 4 points, B equals 3 points, C equals 2 points, and D equals 1 point.
  • Multiply those points by the number of credits the class was worth.
  • Add up all the points from all your classes.
  • Divide that number by the total number of credits you took.
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