I was very leery about continuing homeschooling through high school. I wanted to have a diploma of graduation hanging on my wall, but at the same time, I didn't want to have to enroll back into the public education system, or revert to some form of teacher directed homeschooling as I had tried in Grade 7. Neither of those educational paths seemed to be a great fit.
But I was reassured by my teacher and the assistant principal of my school that there were options for challenging my high school courses, and that this blended high school program (consisting of parent directed learning out of textbooks, and teacher directed learning with timed exams with a terrible writing platform and a program that kept crashing) combined with diploma exams, might just get me a student awarded mark, that might just get me credits, but I could never have a diploma with homeschooling, no matter how "teacher directed" I went. I was extremely disappointed with the regulations that Alberta's provincial government and Canada's federal government had imposed on hardworking homeschooled students like myself, and my first notion was to fight for social justice for homeschooled students.
I reached out to my teachers, and assistant principal again, and they redirected me to the forms and regulations for challenging course, which I will insert links to at the end of this article. It was such a hassle. All of the guidelines, pre-requisites, teacher endorsements, retroactive credits vs. regular credits, guide to education standards, and then there's the actual coursework itself. It was extremely stressful. Although I met all of the requirements with a weighted 4.17 GPA, I found myself swamped in technicalities, complication, teacher-principal meetings, timed exams, and there wasn't even a guarantee I would get credits, let alone a diploma!
I tried for three years to continuously reach out to government workers in the Alberta Education system; I wrote letters, attended virtual meetings and seminars, and reached out to as many people as I could. After months of no replies, "I can't help you's", and "maybe you should reconsider homeschooling" arguments, I once received a reply from the Education Minister of Alberta herself. Guess what she said?
And I quote,
"While Alberta Education is responsible for determining the requirements for obtaining a high school diploma, post-secondary institutions independently determine their own admission criteria. I encourage you to discuss your concerns and options for gaining admission with the post-secondary institutions that you are interested in attending. Many offer preparatory courses to help students meet specific program admission requirements.
If you have not already done so, I encourage you to continue working with Argyll Centre staff to support your current high school educational program and assist you with planning as you transition to post-secondary programs that best meet your interests and needs. You may also wish to contact Edmonton Public Schools, which can offer assistance in planning for high school and providing information on how home education students can choose an appropriate program in order to earn a diploma."
In other words, nothing they can do about it, but hopefully a university won't decline you because of your homeschooled background. I contacted Edmonton Public Schools, and the only planning they could offer me was to stick through homeschooling and not receive a diploma. At first, I was convinced that I would never get into university without transcripts and that there was nothing else I could do; but I took a deep dive into what Canadian universities were requiring for admissions, and I was pleased to find that some universities (especially my choice, Athabasca University), offered admission without a high school diploma (these admission standards have become more commonplace due to COVID, as many students have been forced to switch to temporary homeschooling, and were also not entitled to their diplomas). I breathed a sigh of relief, and decided to drop my course challenge pursuit. I wanted credits and a diploma of course, but the stress of course challenges would affect my grades, and if I could get into post-secondary without an issue, there was no real reason to pursue a course challenge.
It's been six months since I attempted to challenge my courses, and I am happier being a parent-directed homeschooled student; and I would recommend to any other parent directed homeschooled high school student that they shouldn't bother with the hassle of course challenge, but instead, find other ways to make a difference in fighting for equal rights for students who learn at home. If you want to try and challenge your courses, the best of luck to you! But I recommend that we all come together as homeschooled students and appeal to our provincial and federal government to fight for equality for homeschooled students! We are entitled to the same diploma as the rest of the public school system; and we certainly do the hard work to prove it!
If you want to help me in my efforts to fight for equality, credits and diploma's for homeschooled students, join my pursuit in contacting the Education Minister of Alberta:
Honourable Adrianna LaGrange
Minister of Education
Office of the Minister
Education 228 Legislature Building 10800 - 97 Avenue Edmonton, AB T5K 2B6 Phone: 780 427-5010 Fax: 780 427-5018 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Website: Alberta Education Minister
You can also choose to contact the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC):
Council of Ministers of Education, Canada
Telephone : (+1) 416-962-8100
Fax : (+1) 416-962-2800
1106 - 95, St. Clair Ouest / West
Toronto, Ontario M4V 1N6 Canada
Tell them that this is injustice, and that there should not be so many hoops and regulations and red tape for hardworking homeschooled students who have earned just as much of a right to credits and a diploma as the rest of Canadian students. That's how we can start to make a difference.