By John Carey – CHEWV’s Legislative Liaison
The Diploma Fairness Bill was signed by the Governor and is effective June 12, 2015.
“A person who administers a program of secondary education at a public, private or home school that meets the requirements of this chapter may issue a diploma or other appropriate credential to a person who has completed the program of secondary education. Such diploma or credential is legally sufficient to demonstrate that the person meets the definition of having a high school diploma or its equivalent.”
As outlined above in state code, a person who homeschools his or her child and is in compliance with the homeschool exemption “may issue a diploma.” This one change in the law ensures that home educated students will no longer be treated like second class citizens when being considered for acceptance by a college or for employment. However, homeschooled students are still prevented from receiving the Promise Scholarship without first taking the GED. Because of the Governor’s veto, state code regulating the Promise Scholarship has not changed and still treats homeschoolers differently than other graduates. [Editor’s Note: this was changed by the 2018 Legislature. Homeschool students are no longer required to take the GED to receive the PROMISE.]
While West Virginia no longer provides the GED and has moved to the TASC, both tests when passed are considered to be a “high school equivalency diploma.” This means that if you go to take the GED as required by law, you will find it is no longer offered in West Virginia and will be directed to take the TASC. In committee, legislators found the fact that homeschool students are required to take the GED when it is no longer offered as another example of how education policy is out of date. Again, because of the Governor’s veto, this has not changed.
Taking the GED or the TASC is not a good move if your student is planning to go into the military. Current regulations allow homeschool students to submit their diploma and gain acceptance in the military on an equal basis as other private and public school graduates. However, if a student takes the GED, he is immediately placed into a separate class and treated differently from other students. It is even possible that a student will not gain acceptance merely because he took the GED.
It should also be noted that homeschool students are accepted on the same basis as public and private schools when receiving federal aid for college. There is no additional requirement such as taking a test like the GED. A homeschool diploma is sufficient when applying for federal grants and loans.
As every homeschool parent is aware, we personally foot the bill for the education of our own children, while contributing to the education of the public school student and the funding of the Promise Scholarship.
Thanks to legislators, a study will be conducted during the Interim Session. It is hoped that before the session begins in January 2016, the Joint Education Committee will recommend passage of the Home School Promise Scholarship Bill to the state legislature. The next step will be to introduce the legislation early enough in the session that the Governor’s veto can be overridden.