Education starts at home
Editorial Board 2001-2002
Education starts at home
Who's schooling who?
The Ontario Association of Registrars has taken the unprecedented step of inviting the parents of home-schooled students to a February conference, in order to formally recognize such students as potential applicants for post-secondary institutions.
The conference comes in the wake of a rise in home-schooled students seeking access to a post-secondary education.
In Ontario, there is no specific guideline to measure their academic achievements to determine eligibility for university or college.
By contrast, students home-schooled in Saskatchewan or Alberta can write standardized exams in order to garner university admission.
Students could write an exam to receive their General Equivalency Diploma, but even that is not a requirement in Ontario.
Most home-schooled children are guided by an official curriculum, purchased by their parents, in order to ensure they receive a proper education.
However, there remains no system of accountability to ensure such a curriculum is properly enforced by the parent-teacher. There needs to be some form of external accountability for home-schooling to ensure parents do not jeopardize their own children's future.
What happens if a student gets to the end of their OACs (grade 12 in the near future) and they are unprepared for the rigors of university?
Much justified criticism has been levelled at the current problems and inadequacies of the public system, but if that system fails, there at least remains a focus for blame and improvement. In the home-school system no such public accountability exists.
Two things must happen.
First, a system of yearly standardized tests needs to be created in order to ensure home-schooled students are kept up to par with their counterparts in the public education system.
Second, home-schoolers should be required to attain the minimum six senior level high school courses needed within the public system in order to apply for university.
Anyone entering the university system must immediately adjust to a minor culture shock a sea of new faces, new challenges and new freedoms. For home-schoolers, one required year in the public system is a logical academic and social preparation for a future in public, post-secondary education.
The OAR and home-schooling parents should not attempt to develop a standardized entrance exam for home-schooled students. Such an exam would only lead to more complications, as universities would be forced to evaluate how a standardized test compares to the grade average of a public school student.
There is no question that home-schooled students deserve a fair shot at a post-secondary education, but we must also ensure they have an equal chance of getting there in the first place.