January 22, 2018

Earning High School Credits In Middle School

UPDATE Sept. 2014:  Since the original writing of this post, the Florida Statutes have been updated and this line has been removed.  It is now addressed indirectly in the Middle School section of the statutes. However, I had the opportunity to query several college admissions officers recently about how they treat high school credits earned prior to the 9th grade – and without exception, they all said that as long as they are high school level and they appear on the transcript, they are accepted.

Do we have to wait until we are “in high school” before we can start earning high school credits for graduation?  As the homeschooling parent, you are the one who determines what credits you require for high school graduation and when you will award them, so the real question is – will other institutions accept credits earned prior to 9th grade? Earning high school credits in middle school is a sticky subject for many homeschooling families.

earning high school credits in middle school

This might be stretching it just a bit!

We live in Florida and the Florida state statutes have this to say for public school students: “A course designated in the Course Code Directory as grade 9 through grade 12 that is taken below the 9th grade may be used to satisfy high school graduation requirements or Florida Academic Scholars award requirements as specified in a district school board’s student progression plan.”  F.S. 1003.43 So, since this is an accepted practice in public schools, you can feel comfortable awarding high school credits early.  In the public school, there is not enough money or time to provide every high school course to middle school students, so most district progression plans limit the offerings to a few core courses such as Algebra 1 or a world language.  You do not have these limitations.

The key to giving high school credit early is to be sure that the work is actually done (and mastered) at a high school level.  If you are working with a textbook, the level of work will be clear.  For example:  Apologia’s Exploring Creation through Biology is written to prepare high school students for college level science classes so it is clearly high school.  Bob Jones Press carries both a middle school version (American Republic) and a high school version of American History (United States History).  You would want to use the high school material in order to claim a high school credit – even though the content is similar.

It becomes a little more tricky when the student is working on content without a clearly defined textbook.  For example – your student is a dancer and has worked their way through several levels of Ballet by the time they reach 7th grade.  Can you award a high school level credit such as Ballet 1 to a 7th grade student?  Again, that is a decision you make as a homeschool parent, but my recommendation is that for any coursework that does not have a textbook, you only award high school credit if the work is done while the student is high school age.

On occasion you will find a college that will only accept work done while in 9th through 12th grade.  For example – colleges will require four higher level math credits and if a student completed Algebra 1 in the 8th grade, they will need to continue taking math every year in high school.  This is not a common occurrence, but you will want to ask this question when you begin talking with your colleges.

Always keep good records of the high school level work that you are doing so that you can validate all the credits that your student earned.

~ to your success


(Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)


  1. Since a high school transcript reflects work completed over a four year period, how should high school work completed prior to hs be reported? My precocious son took 1-2 high school courses per year beginning in what would be 3rd grade (age 8) and began dual enrollment at age 12. We decided to postpone his graduation until age 16 due to maturity concerns, but how could a transcript show his hs classes going back 8 years without looking absurd at best and suspect at worst?

  2. Hi!

    There are several ways to write out your high school transcript. I would recommend that you simply list the high school credits earned and not necessarily when they were earned. If you are in Florida, the Florida State Statutes specifically allow students to earn credit prior to the 9th grade towards their graduation requirements.

    You will find, however, that there are a few colleges that are very specific about when credits are earned, so this may be something you will need to address in the future. You do not say whether your son has taken an SAT or ACT – but if his test scores reflect this higher level of work then it will help validate this earlier work in the eyes of college admissions officers.

    Hope this helps!

  3. Heather Southammavong says:

    This is great and comforting information for us here in FL. Thank you for speaking on the subject, Joann! I look forward to meeting you soon as we have a rising 8th grader. I have heard wonderful things about you!! So appreciate your willingness and ability to help homeschooling high school families out!!

Speak Your Mind