January 22, 2018

What Is A High School Credit?

No doubt, you have heard the word ‘credit’ before and you know that you need so many credits to graduate from high school – or so many credits to apply for college.  You have heard that some of these credits need to be ‘core credits’ and others can be ‘electives’.   But, just exactly what is a credit and how do we go about earning them?

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Core credits? Electives? No problem!

Nearly every institution defines the term credit around the Carnegie Unit.  The Carnegie Unit was established to make sure a student spent enough time in a subject matter to warrant his earning a credit in that subject.  It originally began as 120 hours but has now been expanded to somewhere between 135 and 150 hours of instruction, depending on its use.   When you look at this in the public school arena, it typically works out to be five 50-minute classes per week for 36 weeks.  BUT, you’re not in public school – and I really don’t recommend that you break your school day into 50-minute segments and jump from subject-to-subject with the ringing of a bell.

If you are working with a high school level textbook, you can usually rest assured that the book was written to meet the hours of study requirement and you don’t need to worry about keeping track of hours.  If, however, you are working on a credit that does not have a textbook, you may want to have a method of keeping track of time spent.   To track hours, develop a spread sheet or checkbox system and sit down once a week to record how much time was spent in that area of study.  Once your student has (1) mastered the material you intended for them to master and (2) met the hours requirement, you can feel comfortable awarding credit in that subject area.

Just what kind of work qualifies?  Wikipedia tells us that Morris L. Cooke defined the collegiate Student Hour as “an hour of lecture, of lab work, or of recitation room work, for a single pupil”. The Florida State Statutes partially define a full credit as “135 hours of bona fide instruction in a designated course of study that contains student performance standards.”  (F.S. 1003.436).  Pretty much this means that a student is progressively learning new material.  It does not necessarily mean that the student is spending all of those hours in a textbook.  In fact, they can be teaching themselves from a variety of sources; but it does need to a focused study spanning many hours of work.

Core credits are typically those credits that fall in the areas of English, math, science, social studies and foreign languages – while most everything else is usually considered to be an elective.  We usually have no problem finding a textbook we like for our core studies – it’s those electives that you’ll typically need to spend a little more time keeping track of.  And, feel free to take more than one year to complete the required number of hours – just consider the credit earned once the requirements have been met!

~to your success


(Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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