Honors Framework Guideline

In a previous post, I’ve talked about What Counts as an Honors Credit. This is a great reference for those of us who are working on college admissions. If your high schooler is transferring back to public school, you need to know about this Honors Framework Guideline from the Department of Education. Some associations are now using this framework as their policy to count honors credits, as well.

If your high schooler is transferring back to public school, you need to know about this Honors Framework Guideline from the Department of Education.

Association directors have been discussing and debating about this for nearly a year now. It’s still not clear to us how it will affect college admissions–if at all. Some institutions question our credits by What’s Accredited. So, this raises more questions as to what’s allowed to count as Honors.

The Department of Education doesn’t oversee homeschools in South Carolina. But, they do set the definitions and standards that are commonly understood. We aim to demonstrate our home education is equivalent (or better) than that.

Honors Framework Guideline

The Department of Education has established a new guideline to “uphold the integrity of the honors level coursework” starting in the Fall 2017. This framework is supposed to create a uniform system that various school districts across the state will approve honors courses they teach in their districts. Which includes all types of schools under the DOE: online/virtual schools, charter schools and magnet schools.

“Local school districts will be able to utilize this system to assure that the courses approved for honors weighting will be developed, implemented, and assessed for advanced learners in South Carolina and uphold the integrity of true honors level coursework. All courses will be aligned to South Carolina state standards and are subject for review prior to final approval. The course content, methods, and assessments should indicate depth in rigor, complexity, challenges, and creativity beyond the CP level course as outlined in the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate.”
~Honors Framework Implementation Guide, 2017, page 5

The intent of this framework is to establish how the school districts will approve courses that originate within their own schools. Click here if you want to read the entire honors framework guideline for yourself–it’s 40 pages! So give yourself some credit for professional development.

However, they are already implementing this guideline to approve course credits for students transferring into their districts, as well. If there is any chance your student will transfer back to the public school system, do not be surprised if the school wants this sort of proof for honors credit.

This is the checklist that they are using for their own courses. But, they might also hand this over to you to ask for you to verify your honors courses with this system. Click here for a Printable Checklist.
South Carolina Honors Framework Checklist

The entire honors framework is built on the “Profile of a South Carolina Graduate.” Before we can talk about honors credits, you need to know this term in order to get any of your credits to transfer. In a previous article, I also discuss the way this profile fits homeschool grads as well. It’s a common goal that we all strive to produce well-rounded, productive citizens.

When we speak in the same terms that the public schools use, I call this edu-speak. It’s part of the professional jargon that other educators understand. We have a much better chance of defending our standards when we speak in terms they understand.

Pushing Back Against THEIR Guideline

Here’s the rub. Even if you jump thru all their hoops, the Department of Ed leaves the decision to accept transfer homeschool credits up to the individual school official. We’ve had several issues this year with school districts and school officials wanting proof for accredited courses and for the new honors framework.

This is policy slip. Where the Department of Education knows they do not have direct authority over homeschools, yet they try to attach some authority over the credits and courses when students transfer back. This is the battle line for homeschool rights–it’s in the court of public opinion and public relations.

The trouble with organizing a thing is that pretty soon folks get to paying more attention to the organization than to what they're organized for.

Let’s be prepared in case you encounter this new policy. Be sure you have created a very professional, accurate transcript and/or report card. Start with professionalism, always! You are making an impression that can affect other homeschoolers after you.

Get your association director involved with your plan before you head to the school to enroll your student. It is so much harder to help you once you are already standing in the front office or when the school official calls later with questions about your parent-made transcript. Your director is your best ally, so be sure to involve her.

I’m a big fan of the “show-me” response when officials overreach. Know what the law says and doesn’t say–so you can stand securely on your rights. As you approach the school officials, here’s a few talking points to consider if they try to impose their standards on your homeschool.

What about non-traditional settings?

The guideline states the criteria applies to all courses offered online and in other nontraditional settings. They are considering our homeschool students are in a nontraditional setting and therefore under review as well.

“These criteria apply to all honors courses, including those offered online and in other nontraditional settings.” ~Honors Framework Guide, page 5

Remember: The guideline is for courses that originate within the public system. The criteria applies to all the variations of educational settings under the public school system, including online/virtual schools, charter schools and magnet schools.

They are overstepping when they apply this criteria to homeschools.
Homeschools are a nontraditional setting, but not under the public school umbrella.

What about accreditation?

The guideline states that the honors course must be taught by a teacher who is credentialed in the area.

“Teachers must be credentialed in the area of instruction and be prepared to teach advanced learners through multiple instructional methods per district/home school association policy.” (emphasis added) ~Honors Framework Guide, page 6

Remember: Homeschool law does not require any of our courses to be taught by credentialed teachers.

Parents are to oversee the student’s education, not credentialed teachers. This new guideline also leaves room for interpretation where it states “per homeschool association policy.” Some associations are drawing up specific policies about what does and does not count for honors credit.

But, even so the associations with policies that refer back to the homeschool code of law leaves responsibility for record-keeping on the parent. That’s also within “the association’s policy” to allow parents to designate honors credits.

They are overstepping if they are trying to evaluate our association policies about counting credits.

What about previous courses?

The guideline states that previous courses that were designated as honors should be re-examined.

“It is recommended that previous courses approved for honors weighting before 2017–18 should be re-examined with the honors application criteria on a timeline that meets the district’s needs.” ~Honors Framework Guide, page 5

Remember: The guideline is set for the public school to determine courses that originate within their own schools.

Any credits that were previously earned in the public schools as honors, will likely still stand as such. I don’t see them going in to strip the honors values of previous credits in their own system.  But, the courses do not get grandfathered in to continue on giving Honors credit, unless they are re-evaluated.

Their course approval process is done thru the school board. It’s also presupposing that the school board would deny the homeschool credits that vary from the state’s standards. Option 1 homeschools actually have their curriculum sent thru the school board. When I used Option 1, the school board approved my curriculum (even though it was not “accredited” and did not follow the state’s standards for scope and sequence.) Nevertheless, we do not have to have our credits and courses approved by the school board.

The district is overstepping when they try to evaluate Option 2 and Option 3 homeschools under this approval process. It’s also overstepping when school official makes the determination instead of the school board.

What about placement? And the final transcript?

The guideline doesn’t mention how the transfer students are placed into courses. But, the school officials express “concerns” that that homeschool transfer students will be able to keep up with the rigors of public school pacing. Some classes have prerequisites. For example, Algebra 1 must be taken before Algebra 2. They imply that the homeschool prerequisite course is inadequate somehow.

Remember this phrase “in the best interest of the child.” Success is in the best interest of the child. Failure is not.

We all want the student to succeed. So placing them in a class that’s too hard  or unnecessarily repetitive does not set them up for success. I question the school policies that complicate the transition process in the name of “proper placement.”

The schools also get “concerned” when a student goes into the Algebra 2 class, then the Algebra 1 credit goes on the final transcript with the name of the school that issued the final diploma. As if this gives them the authority to evaluate the previous credit.

Here’s an example of a Public School Transcript

Example of public high school transcript

However, you can see from this public school transcript example how the credits are listed. They designate where other credits were earned. Even if the credits were earned from a different public school. They are very clear which credits they issued and which ones came from another institution.

They are overstepping when they try to claim authority over homeschool transfer credits.

The Goal is Proper Placement

The public schools have to take the students. But, they don’t have to take our homeschool credits. The Department of Education leaves it up to the local school officials to decide how to determine “instructionally appropriate” classes. This new framework is one of the ways they are trying to implement “proper placement.”

We need to be prepared and maintain a professional tone. But, we need to defend ourselves and command respect as professional educators, just like any other professional would too. It’s reasonable to provide information that is required from other schools (out of state schools and private schools), like syllabus and course description.  If you’re counting an honors credit, you should be able to show that the course work went above and beyond CP credit.

I’d like to guarantee it’ll be a smooth transition. But we’ve got more work to do on Homeschool Public Relations. Many public officials do not value home education and they consider it a “less-than” option. Those of you who are transitioning back into the system, you are educating some of our critics. You are helping clear the way when homeschooling will be normalized.

Right now, it’s harder to transfer back to public school than it is to qualify for college admissions. Maybe public school is where your student needs to be. You are the best advocate to help make the transfer as smooth as possible.

Read more about How to Transfer BACK into Public School:How to enroll your child back in public school in South Carolina.

About Kim Andrysczyk

Homeschool veteran, Association Director, coffee addict, sarcasm expert, and accidental blogger. I'm here to encourage you thru the tough times and inspire you toward excellence. If I can make it, so can you!


  1. […] greater independence and responsibility. The Department of education has implemented a 40-page Honors Framework Guideline about what counts as honors. For our purposes, here are a few examples of what honors […]

  2. […] of Ed. The courses meet the diploma standard, including the End of Course Exam policy and the Honors Framework. Teachers are SC certified. Honors and AP courses are also available. That saves you the hassle of […]

  3. […] (CP) weight value. If you wish to designate Honors value, there is a 40-page document about the Honors Framework Guidelines. This post will just be about the CP requirements (or […]

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