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High School

Are you looking to create a SPED (Specialized Education) homeschool high school experience for your out-of-the-box learner?

  Use this checklist to make sure you have everything you need in place to start off on the right foot AND stay there!

The information below is a checklist to help parents navigate what considerations to make when homeschooling their own SPED high school.  

And, whether upon graduation, your student will continue living with you as their guardian, will move into a special needs adult community, will pursue meaningful work without additional education, or will need accommodations while attending an institute of high learning, all the items on this checklist will prepare both you and your student for that next step.

Understand Your State Graduation Requirement Laws
Graduation requirements vary greatly from state to state for homeschooled students, but most states do not have homeschool graduation requirements.  Instead, the majority of states defer graduation requirement decisions onto the school, which in most homeschooling scenarios means they are determined by the parents of the student.

What this means to the SPED high school homeschooling parent is, if your state defers graduation requirements for your student to you, then you determine what your student needs to know, what projects they need to complete, and what skills they need to show competence in before you award your student a diploma.

Unfortunately, not all states are so lax on homeschool graduation requirements, so always check with your state homeschool organization, or consult the Struggling Learner section of the HSLDA website, to get accurate and up-to-date information on the graduation laws in your state.

Transition Planning
A transition plan is exactly what it sounds like, a 4-year plan to prepare a student throughout their high school years for whatever living situation, job, or further education they will be transitioning to.
And, although most students, as well as their parents, have no idea what exact goal they are running towards when graduation is still 4 years away, each year the plan is adjusted to meet an updated end goal, thus providing an increasing amount of direction and clarity of purpose for the student’s activities and academics.

It is also good to point out, that the reason transition plans are used in general for SPED high school students is that they have more components driving their learning than just their curriculum and extracurricular activities.  A transition plan documents how all the instructional pieces for a SPED high school student fit together in achieving specific graduation goals.

Accommodations, Modifications and Assistive Technology
If your student requires any accommodations, modifications in curriculum, or assistive technology in order to perform tasks, it is likely he/she will require those helps after high school.

Keeping records of your student’s needs, as well as any diagnostic testing records which give backing to those needs, will help your student best advocate for those needs to college testing boards, universities, job training programs, certification testing boards, and/or government testing offices.

IEPs (Individual Education Plan/Program)
An IEP is a great place to keep track of ALL your student’s records, even in the high school years.  

In general, an IEP usually has sections which are updated on a yearly basis with a student’s:
  • Yearly baseline status
  • Current diagnostic testing records
  • Accommodations, modifications, and assistive technology needs
  • Specific, and measurable goals, with pre-determined evaluation methods and intervals for evaluation
  • Therapy integration needs
  • Transition plan
  • Behavior intervention strategies 

You can create an IEP by putting all the above information into a folder or document.

*HSLDA members may access sample IEP’s and an IEP template. Additionally, the HSLDA Special Needs Consultants will assist parent-teachers in developing and drafting an individualized home education plan.
**THSC (Texas Home School Coalition) offers their members an IEP Generation Tool  that is simple and easy to use.

Core Subjects
Some states have required core subjects. As you are planning out the high school years for your SPED homeschooled high school student, make sure to check with your state homeschool organization to see if there are any subjects you are required to teach.

When reviewing your state law, also check to see if there are any specific allowances for a student’s cognitive ability to determine the level of instruction in those subject(s) AND if substitutions can be added into a transition plan for a student with special needs.

When choosing electives for your SPED homeschool high school student, you should take into consideration your student’s transition plan as well as their gifts and interests.  Electives can be subjects of study that open up the world of learning to your student beyond the barriers of their learning deficits.

When thinking outside-the-box on how to incorporate electives into a homeschool SPED high school plan, enrichment can be taken to a whole new level.  Consider some of the following subjects to add to your student’s transcript:
  • Sewing
  • Cooking
  • Music Appreciation
  • App Coding
  • Photography
  • Martial Arts
  • Welding
  • Pottery
  • Drivers Education
  • Graphic Design
  • Woodworking
  • Religion/Bible
  • Child Development
  • Film Making
  • Geography

Or, add in any other subject related to your student’s interests which you can find instructional materials for and can either find, or develop, a method for evaluating and grading your student’s learning.

Life Skills & Therapy Goals
Oftentimes life skills training and therapy (occupational/physical/educational/behavioral/speech) are incorporated into a SPED high school student’s transition plan.  

If your student has specific life skills and therapy goals which are directly related to their transition plan, then prioritizing those goals in your student’s IEP will help you test and document your student’s progress.

Work Study & Volunteering
Incorporating work study and volunteering into your student’s high school schedule will provide hands-on situational learning for your student in environments you can customize to meet their learning goals, as well as their specific interests.

If work study or volunteering is a large part of your SPED homeschooled student’s curriculum, then working these activities into your student’s transition plan and transcript as academic subjects is the best way to give your student credit for the hours they are spending doing hands-on learning.  Just be certain to outline in your student’s transition plan how their credit hours will be counted and graded.

Transcripts are simply a one-page report which summarizes your student’s high school classes, credits, and grades.  When creating your student’s transcript, you will want to decide on a format, download the template, and then keep it in a computer file you can easily access and update after each school year.

Here are links to some great free transcript templates:  

If your student has plans to transition to a college, university, trade school or the military, those entities will have specific transcript class requirements.  To check what those requirements are, contact the enrollment or enlistment office of the school or military branch your student plans to transition to.

Diplomas and Graduation
As stated in the top checkbox in this list, most states do not have specific graduation requirements for homeschooled high school students.  If that is the case in your state, then when your student has met all the graduation requirements you have set, you can finish your student’s transcript, print or buy a diploma to issue your student, and then plan a graduation celebration.  It really is that simple.

Final items 
Make sure to make multiple copies of your student’s transcript and diploma and store all of your student’s IEPs (including transition plans and yearly goal measurements), diagnostic testing records, and therapy records in a safe place.  As a homeschooler, you are the owner of the original “school” copies and there is no fallback if you lose them or they are destroyed by a natural disaster.  

Also, make sure to check out the Final Stretch playlist on our YouTube channel for lots of encouraging and helpful videos on how to homeschool through high school and finish well in the final stretch.

We at SPED Homeschool look forward to walking this final stretch with you as you homeschool your SPED high school student.  It's our desire you will find on our site, and as part of our community, the encouragement and resources you need to finish these years strong.


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