Posted in Curriculum, Dual Enrollment, High School, Self-Paced Learning, Straighterline

Straighterline and my 10th Grader’s Spring Semester

Almost as an afterthought, when my 12th grader started using Straighterline this past semester, I decided to enroll my 10th grader- for just one month.  My goal was for them to share the textbook I’d just purchased for my older son.  Efficiency is always an important part of our budget.  They’d share the text, learn lessons together (mostly) and we’d assess after the first class.  (NOTE:  In our second month, Straighterline’s policy for books changed, and a free edition of an eBook was included with each course’s tuition, so we ended up not spending anything on books after the first month!)

You can read about the basics of using Straighterline in your homeschool, or how to choose your courses in my previous posts.  For this post, I just want to provide a brief overview of what my son did, what we spent, and his outcome.  As you’ll see, the first month was so successful (earning 9 college credits) that I decided to continue for the duration of the semester (Dec-May).  You should know that he dedicated about 1-2 hours per day to his Straighterline course Monday-Friday as part of his regular school schedule.  He was able to complete his other homeschool courses (Chemistry with Lab, Consumer Math, and Building Thinking Skills) during another 1-2 hours each day.

As you read the schedule, I list each course and credit earned in the month that I purchased it, not the month he completed it.  Some courses were completed in a week, others in a month, and others took longer still.  As an example, Nutrition and American Government, courses he’d already taken in homeschool, took him only 1 week each, but writing-intensive courses like English Composition I & II took him about 7 weeks each.

As I write this, he enters his final month of the school year with Straighterline and me. We take a summer vacation, so I’m ready to wrap things up with our kids by Memorial Day.  He has completed everything except Chemistry and English II.  He has 3 more papers to write for English II and hasn’t started their chemistry course.  Since he’s been doing Chemistry with Lab all school year with me, I expect Straighterline’s General Chemistry I to go smoothly and take about 2 weeks.  Writing, for him, is a long and arduous process.  I expect he’ll struggle through until the very end.

Grades:  His grades have been fine.  Straighterline requires a minimum passing score of 70% for their courses, and he’s finished most of his courses in the mid-80’s.  His best course grade was English Composition I (100%) and his lowest course grade was Introduction to Psychology (79%).  Final course grades issued by Straighterline are based only on quizzes and exams (except composition and lab courses) so testing acumen is important if you want to score well.  Since these credits will only appear as “credit” on his college transcript, the final grades aren’t important to his GPA.  While I used his Straighterline courses to inform the grade I awarded him on his high school transcript, in most cases, the grades I gave him differed slightly.  (NOTE:  Since Straighterline is not a college, you never have to disclose any grades or credits earned/not earned through them.  Dual enrollment, on the other hand, requires full disclosure on college applications)


Breakdown of Costs & Credit

Month Class Cost Discounts Applied Credits Earned
December Membership

Introduction to Religion

Microbiology

Business Ethics

$99

$49

$25

$69

-$20 coupon

-$20 coupon

9
January Membership

Cultural Anthropology

Medical Terminology

Introduction to Nutrition

$99

$49

$49

$49

9
February Membership

English Composition I

English Composition II

$99

$69

$69

6
March Membership

Environmental Science

American Government

Introduction to Psychology

$99

$59

$59

$59

-$49 coupon 9
April Membership

Chemistry I

Introduction to Business

$99

$59

$59

-$50 coupon 6
May Membership $99
IMG_3442 $1376

-$139 coupons

$1237

39

The total we spent over 6 months was: $1237

Total credits earned:  39 

Breakdown average per month:  $206/month

The average price per credit:  $32/credit

What I liked best about his semester:

  • I obviously liked that he earned college credit since he’s isn’t eligible to use dual enrollment in our state until next school year.  This gave him a great head-start.
  • I liked that the course rubric (point break down) is spelled out clearly, so, at any given time, he (I) knew exactly how many points he needed to pass the class.  This eliminated a LOT of testing anxiety because in most cases, he’d already earned enough points to pass
    the course before ever taking the proctored final exam.  While the exam is required, passing is not, so his testing anxiety wasn’t nearly as high as when he attempted (and failed) his first CLEP exam last year.
  • I like that they added free eBooks in the tuition of each course.  This helped me make sure I had the book on day 1 of each class without waiting for books to arrive.
  • I liked that I can pay for my son’s classes with Paypal.  This allowed me to use sales from books I’d sold through the College Credit Marketplace Swap Facebook group.
  • I liked Straighterline’s video lesson format.  Since a couple of their courses didn’t have the video lesson format (Microbiology and Statistics) this can also be classified as what I didn’t like!
  • I liked that my son could do all of his courses without my help (after the first one!)

What I liked least about this semester:

  • I didn’t like finding a totally different format (reading only!) in the Microbiology course.  This was a huge disappointment.  There’s a reason that course is only $25.
  • Some courses had WAY TOO MANY quizzes, or the quizzes were WAY TOO LONG.  I can think of several instances where the quizzes were over 50 questions and covered 4 or more chapters in the text.  Both my sons hated these.  Obviously, since the quizzes are open book (I make them look up every answer on every question on every open book quiz- that’s low hanging fruit people!) these took a long time.
  • This seems to contradict what I just said, but other quizzes were too short.  Nutrition, for instance, was full of 10-question quizzes.  As you can imagine, missing a few questions really makes a difference between an A and a C!  The “sweet spot” according to my teens is the 20 question quiz.  I tend to agree.
  • Written assignments are not graded by teachers, they are graded by “graders.” Graders are anonymous people who you’ll never meet, and can never have
    a conversation with.  While they attempt to give good feedback, the loop is broken because the student can’t communicate with the grader!  In one instance during English I, my son turned in a paper that was kicked back for being off-topic.  It was clearly on-topic, so we had to submit a support ticket, which escalated to a course administrator, and finally resulted in his paper being accepted and graded.  The process is clunky and frustrating when compared with the other courses that don’t have graders (tests are automatically graded instantly).
  •  My son worked fast- and you have to because you’re being
    billed $99 per month.  So, there is a constant sense of playing “beat the clock” in a course. Since we were aware of the structure ahead of time, I adjusted his homeschool schedule and was prepared to pull back on his other work if necessary, but for me, the feeling was a little inconsistent with my normal approach to courses- allowing plenty of time for marinating.  When I asked my son, he said he liked finishing courses quickly instead of spending all semester studying something……so mark this up to personal preference.
  • ProctorU.  I really, really, really don’t love ProctorU.  ProctorU is the third party webcam proctoring service that is part of each final exam.  Your teen logs in, the webcam clicks on, ProctorU opens your final and then testing begins.  Initially, I didn’t like the feeling of the webcam experience, but my kids thought this wasn’t an issue at all.  But, the issue that we had at least 3 times (between about 24 courses with 2 teens) was technical issues getting logged in.  If there is any log in trouble, they route you to tech support, but if you don’t start your exam within the 15-minute window, you have to reschedule it and pay $5.  So, as you can imagine, this is really really frustrating because you have to reschedule your test!  Finals must be scheduled 72 hours in advance (or pay a rush fee).  2 of the 3 times Straighterline covered the $5 reschedule fee for us (I didn’t ask the first time because I didn’t think to) but it’s really inconvenient when you’ve planned your homeschool schedule around taking a proctored exam.  The room has to be private, quiet, and free of things that could be used for cheating.  In our home, the room that meets these criteria is our dining room, so keep that in mind too.  One final ProctorU comment, you’ll need identification for each test.  If you don’t have a driver’s license, they’ll ask for 2 forms of ID.  My son used his passport and driver’s permit.

    EDIT TO ADD ONE MORE THING!!  I can’t believe I forgot to share this earlier when I posted, but 4 Straighterline courses are also accredited as AP Courses. These are the SAME COURSE that is in their catalog, but if you take it, you can list the AP designation on your homeschool transcript.  Courses that qualify as AP are:

  • English 1
  • Psychology
  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics

And no, you don’t have to take the AP exam to list AP on your transcript.  You CAN of course, but if you’re sure that the ACE credit offered via Straighterline will do, you don’t have to.  Some of you may want AP scores for other reasons- so that’s fine, but we skipped them.

Posted in Curriculum, Science

10 Ways to Take High School Lab Science

It’s common for high school students to take a couple science classes, but labs seem to create some anxiety for homeschool parents.  Some states, and a few colleges, will “require” at least one high school lab science course to meet graduation or admissions requirements.  If you don’t know your state’s homeschool graduation requirements, you should look them up on the Homeschool Legal Defense Association page.   If you want to be on the safe side with college admissions, usually 1 high school lab science course will check that box. If your teen is really excited about lab science, there’s no reason to stop at just one.  One of my sons (the little guy in the photo) will have 6 high school lab sciences on his transcript before he graduates high school, but my current high school senior has none.  (he has 6 college credits in science, but none contain a lab).  Once you know what you do and don’t have to do, you can decide what you do and don’t want to do.  piggy

A BIG factor with lab science is cost, and I’d love to tell you it’s “always” cheaper to do X, and “always” more expensive to do Y, but lab science costs are all over the place.  A good rule of thumb: the more control you have over choosing course content, the more control you’ll have over the costs.


If your local college has reduced or free dual enrollment tuition for homeschool students, you’ll still have to investigate costs.  Even “free” dual enrollment programs can involve access codes, expensive textbooks, and lab fees.  Many dual enrollment parents will tell you that their “free” classes were very expensive.   


10 Ways to Take High School Lab Science:

#1  Use the community college for a lab science course on campus.  100% of the activities happen in the college classroom, and you won’t have to do anything.  You’ll have to purchase the required textbook, and don’t be suprised if you must also purchase an access code to unlock supplemental online activities.  You and the college both issue credit, but the grade is issued by the college. You award high school credit for science with lab, and the college awards college credit for science with lab.

#2  Use the community college for a NON-lab science course on campus, and conduct a science lab at home*.  The college course grade is issued by the college, but the high school grade is issued by the parent.  In this case, by adding the lab, you’ve rolled their college class into your homeschool class.  You award high school credit for science with lab, and the college awards college credit without lab.  The grades can differ since the courses, technically, are different.

#3  Use a community college for a lab science course as a distance learner.  In this type of class, you’ll have to purchase a specific lab kit and conduct the experiments at home, but you can shop around across all 50 states.  Be prepared to take and upload photos as part of the experiment process.  You and the college issue credit, but the grade is issued by the college.  You award high school credit for science with lab, and the college awards college credit for science with lab.

#4  Use the community college for a NON-lab science course as a distance learner, and conduct a science lab at home*.  This is a modification of #2, but with the ability to shop around across all 50 states.  The course grade is issued by the college, but the high school grade is issued by the parent.  You award high school credit for science with lab, and the college awards college credit without lab.

#5  Use a local homeschool co-op program.  These classes may be offered with or without a lab, but if a lab is not offered, the parent(s) could DIY a science lab at home*.  If you go through the trouble of creating a lab space at home, perhaps others from the co-op would like to cost share with your family or work as a team.  You award a grade for the course, and high school credit for science with lab.  No college credit is awarded, but you could integrate a college credit by exam option like CLEP, AP, DSST.

#6  Use your favorite high school textbook brand to conduct a homeschool science course with lab.  I share the same frustrations you do:  you spend a lot of money on a curriculum that promises you’ll only need “common, household ingredients” only to find that you don’t have lab supplies on hand when you need them.  A few years back I found the  company Home Science Tools.  They have an online catalog of pre-assembled lab kits that match all the assignments in major curriculum brands like Apologia, A Beka, Berean, REAL Science, Monarch, Science Odyssey, and others.  They also have a curriculum selection guide if you don’t yet have a favorite brand. Brand Selection HELP.  You award grades and high school credit for science with lab.  No college credit is awarded, but you could integrate a college credit by exam option like CLEP, AP, DSST.

#7 Use your favorite video based brand for the course, and you’ll DIY the lab portion at home*.  The Great Courses is one of my favorite full course brands (a bit expensive).  The lectures are fantastic, but the parent will have to create homework or enrichment to go with the videos. The photo at the beginning of this article is of my son and I dissecting a pig while completing The Great Course program called Understanding the Human Body by Dr. Anthony Goodman. Make no mistake, the course was well over his head, but we still had a blast!   For a free option, Khan Academy has full courses (AP, too!) in every major science.  They teach by video, but also offer practice exercises and a dashboard to track learning.  It is by far the more interactive of the two options.  You award all grades and high school credit for science with lab.  No college credit is awarded, but you could integrate a college credit by exam option like CLEP, AP, DSST.

#8 Use a YouTube course, and you’ll DIY the lab component at home*.  If you didn’t already know, dozens of universities are uploading full lecture content from their real courses for you to watch on YouTube.  I frequently share the link to Dr. Marian Diamond’s Anatomy class at Berkeley.  She is a 90 year old firecracker who doesn’t use a textbook or Power Point.  Instead, she writes her notes on the chalkboard (in cursive) for students to copy by hand into their notebook.  I’ve been told that Berkeley is pulling their courses off of YouTube, but Harvard, MIT, University of Nottingham, and many others have robust offerings.  You award all grades and high school credit for science with lab.  No college credit is awarded, but you could integrate a college credit by exam option like CLEP, AP, DSST.

#9  Enroll in an Open Source course (MOOC).  Open Source courses, usually called Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) are free college-level courses that can include classroom support, or operate as an archived class that you study independently.  MOOCs aren’t one thing, so you may have a really great experience with one class, and then another be a total dud.  My current favorite “first stop” when I’m course searching is edX.  edX was founded by MIT and Harvard, but everyone is getting on board.  You can find universities from all over the globe on their partnership list.  You can search by class title, or by university.  Some of the courses are specifically tagged as “Advanced Placement” which should align with the AP exam. For MOOCs, you may or may not have:  lectures, reading, video, homework, etc. and you usually will not be graded by a teacher, even if a teacher oversees the class.  You’ll have to DIY a lab component at home* and award all grades.  You will award high school credit for science with lab.  No college credit is awarded, but you could integrate a college credit by exam option like CLEP, AP, DSST.

#10 Enroll in a college-credit-eligible course.  College credit eligible courses are not technically college credit courses.  Instead, they offer a college level course and arrange to verify your completion if you meet certain standards.  A common approach is to pay per month for a membership, and then purchase courses a la carte.  Upon completing the course requirements and passing a proctored final exam, you pass the course.  College credit eligible courses are evaluated to award credit by ACE or NCCRS.  ACE, the more widely accepted, is frequently discussed on this site, so you can use the tag ACE to find a lot of information about the benefits and limitations of programs like these.  My favorite free option in this category is Saylor Academy.  If you use Saylor, you’ll have to DIY the lab portion at home* and award all grades.  You will award high school credit for science with lab.  College credit is stored on your teen’s ACE or NCCRS transcript.  My favorite pay option in this category is Straighterline.  If you use Straighterline, you’ll have the option of buying a lab class.  With Straighterline, the company grades all work, but the parent is responsible for awarding a grade and high school credit.  The college credit is stored on their ACE transcript.

#11 and beyond…  There are so many other options and variations of how you can integrate a lab science into your homeschool.  If you have found a great solution, Let me know!  In addition, you can completely and organically start from scratch!  I’ve taught entire courses to my teens that I’ve built from discarded (free) textbooks and online videos.  If you consider yourself handy like that, and love a challenge, this is the video I use to teach how to build curriculum from scratch. Building Curriculum 6-Layer Technique


*DIY Lab (Do It Yourself) labs can come in many forms.  

  • You can purchase a lab kit for the year, like those mentioned in #6.  Kits can include microscopes, beakers, chemicals, and everything you need for at-home experiments.  
  • You can also use a subscription service like Mel Science.  Each month, the labs are delivered to your home.  It’s a pretty outstanding product.  This is a sample of what an experiment and kit looks like Experiment.  
  • Finally, if you don’t want to physically do the lab, but still want to do the lab, you can use VIRTUAL LABS.  

Virtual Lab Links & Sites

1 year High School Earth Science Curriculum and Labs  (free)

Histology Virtual Microscopic Slides  (free)

General Chemistry Virtual Lab Simulations (free)

Quantum Chemistry Virtual Lab Simulations (free)

Anatomy Virtual Canine Dissection (free)

Earth Science Virtual Lab Simulations (free)

Biology Virtual Lab Simulations (free)

Biology Virtual Frog Dissection (free)

Physics Virtual Lab Simulations (free)

Disease Lab Simulator (free)

Virtual Dissection Subscription ($36/year)

Basic Microbiology course by the CDC (free)

Posted in Curriculum, Distance Learning, High School, Self-Paced Learning, Straighterline

Straighterline Dissected: What to Take

I first published this story in February 2017, but in March 2018, some of the Straighterline courses changed a bit.  You can see every Straighterline syllabus by entering their website and clicking on the course you’re interested in.  If the exact number of quizzes/points is important in your decision-making process, be sure to check before enrolling.  -Jennifer

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Not all Straighterline courses follow the same format.  In this document, we’ll explore the structure of each Straighterline course, and I’ll help you break down the differences between them.  This will help you choose courses that meet your specific need.


Courses are generally considered “easy” and/or “fast” to complete when they:

  1. Consist only of only exams, a midterm, and a final.  Those three exam types are multiple choice format, open book, and instantly graded by computer.  
  2. The course point distribution allows you to accumulate enough points to pass the course before taking the final.
  3. The course textbook is available digitally, which allows you to search out answers quickly during exams.  Tip: hold the Ctrl button and press the F key.  A “find” box will open, and you can search the text for any word or phrase.

Courses are generally considered “hard” and/or “slow” to complete when they:

  1. Have assignments that must be uploaded to Straighterline.  The assignment will be graded by a human, and can take 3-5 days.
  2. Are subject to a human’s interpretation of the course instructions, which can result in a low grade.  The nature of the grading system means your grader is anonymous and you can not ask follow up questions or make revisions.  You will likely have a different person grading each of your assignments.
  3. Require labs.  Science labs can stretch several days each, especially if you’re waiting for a reaction or culture to grow.  Labs also require uploading photos in every lab report.

Courses are generally “more expensive” when:

  1. You take a science lab.  Science labs all require lab kits purchased through the link in the course syllabus.  Lab kits can cost as much as $200. 
  2. You don’t use a discount code.  There are usually at least 2 codes at any time.  I keep a log of current codes on this website. Discount Codes

 

A passing score for every Straighterline course is 70% unless your college says differently.

Straighterline credit comes into every college as PASS/FAIL credit unless your college says differently.  

Charter Oak State College (CT) is the only college I know of that awards letter grades for Straighterline courses.  They use a standard 90=A, 80=B, 70=C grade scale.

When the “pre-proctor” column is 700 or more, you can pass the course before taking the final exam. Note, they still require you to take it, but there’s no pressure.


I pulled all of the following MASTER TABLE information from the Straighterline website on 2/25/2017.  Information is subject to change at any time, but I will make every effort to keep this current.  If you find an error, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

 

MASTER TABLE

STRAIGHTERLINE COURSE CONTENT SUMMARY PRE-PROCTOR PROCTORED EVENT
Accounting 1 4 exams @ 150 / midterm 200 800 Final exam 200
Accounting 2 4 exams @ 150 / midterm 200 800 Final exam 200
American Government 4 exams @ 125 / midterm 200 700 Final exam 300
Anatomy & Physiology 1 16 exams @ 40 / midterm 160 800 Final exam 200
Anatomy & Physiology 1 Lab 9 exams @ 42 *lowest score dropped

9 written lab reports @ 83 *lowest score dropped

1000 -0-
Anatomy & Physiology 2 13 exams @ 50 / midterm 150 800 Final exam 200
Anatomy & Physiology 2 Lab 9 exams @ 42 *lowest score dropped

9 written lab reports @ 83 *lowest score dropped

1000 -0-
Biology 13 exams totaling 700 700 Final exam 300
Biology Lab 8 exams @35 / 1 homework @ 40

8 written lab reports @ 85

1000 -0-
Business Communication 14 exams @ 25 / midterm 150

3 written papers @ 100

800 Final exam 200
Business Ethics 4 exams @ 175 700 Final exam 300
Business Law 4 exams @ 125 / midterm 250 750 Final exam 250
Business Statistics 6 exams @ 125 750 Final exam 250
Calculus 1 4 exams @ 125 / midterm 150 650 Final exam 350
Calculus 2 4 exams @ 125 / midterm 150 650 Final exam 350
Chemistry 6 exams @115 690 Final exam 310
Chemistry Lab 8 exams @35 / 1 homework @ 40

8 written lab reports @ 85

1000 -0-
College Algebra 4 exams @ 125 500 Final exam 500
Criminal Justice 12 exams @ 50 / midterm 200 800 Final exam 200
Cultural Anthropology 4 exams @ 125 / midterm 250 750 Final exam 250
English Composition 1* 15 exams totaling 610

9 written assignments totaling 400

1010 -0-
English Composition 2 17 exams totaling 510

8 written assignments totaling 500

1010 -0-
Environmental Science 4 exams @ 125 / midterm 250 750 Final exam 250
Financial Accounting 4 exams @ 125 / midterm 250 750 Final exam 250
First Aid 4 exams @100 / midterm 200

1 demonstration 100 / CPR verification 100

800 Final exam 200
Introductory Algebra 7 exams @ 100 700 Final exam 300
Introduction to Business 4 exams @ 125 / midterm 250 750 Final exam 250
Introduction to Communication 4 exams @ 100 / midterm 100

3 speeches totaling 300

800 Final exam 200
Introduction to Nutrition 15 exams @ 40 / midterm 150 750 Final exam 250
Introduction to Philosophy 4 exams @ 75 / midterm 200 500 Final exam 500
Introduction to Programming C++ 4 exams @ 50 / midterm 200

8 Program assignments @ 25

600 Final exam 400
Introduction to Religion 4 exams @ 125 / midterm 200 700 Final exam 300
Introduction to Statistics 5 exams totaling 500 points 500 Final exam 500
IT Fundamentals 19 exams totaling 700 points 700 Final exam 300
Macroeconomics* 19 exams @ 40 / midterm 120 880 Final exam 120
Managerial Accounting 4 exams @ 125 / midterm 200 700 Final exam 300
Medical Terminology 4 exams @ 125 / midterm 200 700 Final exam 300
Microbiology 6 exams @ 100 / midterm 200 800 Final exam 200
Microbiology Lab 8 exams @ 48 *lowest score dropped

8 written lab reports @ 95 *lowest score dropped

1001 -0-
Microeconomics* 24 Exams @ 30 / midterm 140 860 Final exam 140
Organizational Behavior 4 exams @ 125 / midterm 250 750 Final exam 250
Personal Finance 14 exams @ 50 / midterm 100 800 Final exam 200
Personal Fitness 10 Exams @ 70

Fitness test/Caloric Inventory/5K race @ 0

700 Final exam 300
Pharmacology 1 4 exams @ 125 / midterm 250 750 Final exam 250
Pharmacology 2 4 exams @ 125 / midterm 250 750 Final exam 250
Physics 4 exams @ 150/ midterm 200 800 Final exam 200
Physics Lab 9 exams @ 42 *lowest score dropped

9 written lab reports @ 83 *lowest score dropped

1000 -0-
Pre-Calculus 4 exams @ 175 700 Final exam 300
Principles of Management 4 exams @ 150 / midterm 200 800 Final exam 200
Psychology* 4 exams @ 175 700 Final exam 300
Sociology 10 exams @ 50 / midterm 150

5 discussion assignments @ 20

750 Final exam 250
Spanish 1 4 exams @ 75 / 2 written assignments @ 75

2 oral assignments @ 75 / midterm 150

750 Final exam 250
Spanish 2 4 exams @ 75 / 2 written assignments @ 75

2 oral assignments @ 75 / midterm 150

750 Final exam 250
Survey of World History 18 exams totaling 700 points 700 Final exam 300
United States History 1 4 exams @ 125 / midterm 200 700 Final exam 300
United States History 2 4 exams @ 125 / midterm 250 750 Final exam 250

SL courses WITHOUT webcam proctored final exams

English Composition 1
English Composition 2
Microbiology Lab
Anatomy & Physiology 1 Lab
Anatomy & Physiology 2 Lab
Biology Lab
Chemistry Lab
Physics Lab

SL courses approved as “Advanced Placement” by College Board

English Composition 1
Macroeconomics
Microeconomics
Psychology

SL courses you can’t pass unless you also pass the final exam

Chemistry
Calculus 1
Calculus 2
Introduction to Programming C++
College Algebra
Introduction to Philosophy
Introduction to Statistics

SL courses that require written essays

Business Communication
Sociology
English Composition 2
English Composition 1

SL courses that require giving speeches/video recording

Spanish 1
Spanish 2
Introduction to Communication

SL courses that require a 3rd party to verify your activity

First Aid
Personal Fitness

SL courses that require purchase of a lab kit

Anatomy & Physiology 1 Lab
Biology Lab
Chemistry Lab
Microbiology Lab
Anatomy & Physiology 2 Lab
Physics Lab

TIP:  If you have multiple children that are earning lab credit, you only have to buy 1 lab kit.  Email Straighterline at Advisor@straighterline.com and request a “group lab form.” 

SL courses that can be “passed” before taking the final exam 

NOTE: the quizzes, labs, homework, exams, and even mid-term exams are all open book.  The only closed book activity is the FINAL EXAM, and not all final exams are closed book!  In other words, your teen should be able to earn nearly perfect scores on everything leading up to the final exam.

Macroeconomics
Microeconomics
Introduction to Communication
First Aid
Business Communication
Accounting 1
Accounting 2
Anatomy & Physiology 1
Anatomy & Physiology 2
Criminal Justice
Microbiology
Personal Finance
Physics
Principles of Management
Spanish 1
Spanish 2
Sociology
American Government
Business Law
Business Statistics
Cultural Anthropology
Environmental Science
Financial Accounting
Introduction to Business
Introduction to Nutrition
Introduction to Religion
Organizational Behavior
Pharmacology 1
Pharmacology 2
United States History 1
United States History 2
Western Civilization 1
Western Civilization 2
Personal Fitness
Psychology
Biology
Business Ethics
Introductory Algebra
IT Fundamentals
Managerial Accounting
Medical Terminology
Pre-Calculus
Survey of World History

Jennifer’s TOP 10 Suggested SL Courses

based on: fewest computer graded activities that can result in a pass before the final exam

  1. Psychology – not only is this course approved as an AP course (record it as such on your teen’s high school transcript) but it only has 4 exams @ 175 points each + final. If you want, your teen can also take the AP exam and/or CLEP exam.  The content of this course aligns with both very nicely.  Note: their target college will still only award 3 credits even if they have multiple passing scores.
  2. Business Ethics – some partner colleges consider this a philosophy or ethics course, which meets a general education requirement!  Only 4 exams and a 300 point open book final.
  3.  Accounting 1 & 2 – These don’t make sense for all of my readers, but if you’re looking for math alternatives or business courses for your teen, these two courses follow the same structure and can yield a full year of math.  There are 4 exams and midterm (all open book) totaling 800 points.  Since only 700 is needed to pass the course, you can pass long before attempting the 200 point open book exams.
  4. Principles of Management– Also a less traditional option, the structure makes this class a winner.  4 exams and a midterm (all open book) totaling 800 points.  Again, easy enough to pass before attempting the 200 point open book exam. CLEP also offers an exam for this course.
  5. American Government- Almost every high school student takes a government course, so this acts as a great DIY dual enrollment option.  A straight-forward structure consisting of 4 exams and midterm (all open book) totaling 750 points.  The final is closed book, however, it’s possible to pass this course before taking the final. CLEP offers an exam for this course, however, the pass rate is very low.  SL would be a significantly easier option if deciding between the two.  *while there is an AP exam in this content area, the SL course is not an approved AP course.
  6. Environmental Science– Considered a nice and easy science by most, the structure here makes this course a great option.  4 exams and a midterm (all open book) totaling 750 points followed by an open book final.  *while there is an AP exam in this content area, the SL course is not an approved AP course
  7. Introduction to Religion– This course is usually considered a general education course, not a theology course, making it a good option for any degree.  The structure is simple with 4 exams and a midterm (all open book) followed by a 250 point open book final exam.  In my opinion, I thought this course covered the major religions well and without strong bias toward one over another.
  8. United States History 1 & 2 – Like Accounting, these two courses can be taken individually, but when taken together make a full sequence.  Both have the same structure: 4 exams, a midterm, and final.  US History 1’s final is closed book, while US History 2’s final is open book.  Either way, it’s possible to pass both before taking the final.  There are CLEP exams for US 1 and US 2, but if you want to plan for an AP exam, be sure to take both classes!
  9. Western Civilization 1 & 2 – Identical in structure to US History 1 & 2, but both have open-book final exams.  Like all the courses on this list, you can pass the class before taking the final exam.  There are CLEP exams for Western Civilization 1 and 2.
  10. Cultural Anthropology– This course is an alternative to Sociology or Psychology as a social science option.  In some colleges, this course also meets requirements related to world cultures or diversity.  The structure is very similar to the others on this list- 4 exams and midterm with a 250 point open book final.
Posted in Curriculum, Distance Learning, Dual Enrollment

The Great Books (48 UL Credits)

UPDATE:  The Western Civilization Foundation’s Courses expired with ACE on 06/2017.  These courses are currently NOT worth college credit.  If this changes, I will update the page. 


It’s not cheap*, it’s not fast, it’s not easy – but it is a homeschooling for college credit option! The Great Books program consists of eight semesters (four years) of online classes meeting 2 hours per week, September-May, discussing the reading from one of the great classics of Western civilization – Great Books – done that week.  The structure follows a typical 4-year high school set up, but you’d have to provide everything else (Math, Science, etc.)
*While researching this program, I found a FREE online open resource for K-12 Great Books study.  I don’t think it is enough to stand alone as a substitute for this program, but it certainly contains enough resources to DIY a program!  The Great Books Free Resources
The curriculum contains LOTS of reading and writing. You must be 14 to enroll, but interestingly, there is no upper age limit. No other entry requirements listed. Regarding the program, I reviewed a parent-submitted Sample Schedule and it freaked me out just a little.  My Master’s program was less work.  No, really.  I expect the majority of students in the program are also devoting a great deal of time to learning Latin.
Who will like this kind of program?  I think this program is most like Classical Conversations in approach (very classical, Latin, very academic, the Trivium approach) but without the group meeting requirement.  The online option means you can do it from anywhere it in the world that has an internet connection.  That appeals to many families, especially those that are turned off by the meeting requirements of Classical Conversations.
How many books?  Depending on the reference you check, it’s about 150.  To give you an idea of the type of books, here are the first 20 (listed chronologically on Wikipedia)
  1. HomerIliad; Odyssey
  2. The Old Testament
  3. Aeschylus – Tragedies
  4. Sophocles – Tragedies
  5. HerodotusHistories
  6. Euripides – Tragedies
  7. ThucydidesHistory of the Peloponnesian War
  8. Hippocrates – Medical Writings
  9. Aristophanes – Comedies
  10. Plato – Dialogues
  11. Aristotle – Works
  12. Epicurus – “Letter to Herodotus”; “Letter to Menoecus”
  13. EuclidElements
  14. Archimedes – Works
  15. ApolloniusConics
  16. Cicero – Works (esp. Orations; On Friendship; On Old Age; Republic; Laws; Tusculan Disputations; Offices)
  17. LucretiusOn the Nature of Things
  18. Virgil – Works (esp. Aeneid)
  19. Horace – Works (esp. Odes and Epodes; The Art of Poetry)
  20. LivyHistory of Rome
Here’s the big deal…the end result is 48 UPPER-LEVEL college credits (ACE).
Upper-level college credit is REALLY, REALLY, REALLY HARD TO GET while homeschooling in high school.  In fact, it’s the hardest type of credit to get.  (Reading The Great Books, also pretty hard.)
What can you do with 48 upper-level credits in humanities/liberal arts/religion/literature?  In theory, that credit exceeds the requirement for a major at any of The BIG 3 colleges. I have not *yet* met anyone who finished this program and submitted their credit for evaluation.  If you have, tell me about it.  Based on past behavior of the Big 3, this is the type of credit they always accept, so I put it in the “excellent” transfer-ability category when earning a Liberal Arts/ Liberal Studies / Humanities / Literature  / Religion degree.  When applying to a traditional or elite college, the likelihood of transfer is limited to small.

If you’re not interested in The Great Books as the foundation of your high school program, but like the idea of a college degree, there is an ENTIRE college degree option built around the Great Books.  Thomas Aquinas College (California) holds Regional Accreditation (the golden standard) and is very homeschool friendly.  Their degree in Liberal Arts is typically considered preparatory for graduate study in medicine, law, education, etc.

If your student studies Latin, be sure they attempt the Latin exam options for college credit.  Foreign Language for College Credit