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 school 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 (93%) 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 like 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 like 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 English 1 and Psychology are considered actual AP courses – so his high school transcript will list both “AP English Composition” and “AP General Psychology!”   But no, he won’t bother with the exams, he doesn’t need them.

Posted in College Admission, High School, Self-Paced Learning

Trending: Non-College Learning

Old-School, MOOCs, Coding Bootcamps, and now MissionU

Depending on the age of your teens, your techno-savviness, and how closely you follow educational trends, some of this may already be old news…. but, hold onto your chalk, the landscape of higher education is changing, and it’s happening FAST!

Higher Education in the USA hadn’t changed much for centuries.  That’s no exaggeration.  First, we had Harvard (1636), and then about a hundred years later we had a few public universities, and then almost two hundred years later we got our first community college (Joliet Jr. College in Illinois was founded in 1901).  If you were a young person growing up at that time, the line between a college educated man and one who wasn’t was clear and thick.  If you were “smart enough” and “had means” you applied to college.  Remember that during the early 1900’s it wasn’t even expected that you’d graduate high school, so college was an exceptionally high aspiration for that time in history; college was an enormous privilege.  

In fact, it wasn’t until late 1960’s that we hit a national high school graduation rate of 50%!

Even at the turn of the new millennium, fewer than 25% of adults held a bachelor’s degree…. but, close to 80% held a high school diploma with some amount of college.  Wow! What a huge spike!   Since I’m not an academic researcher, I won’t pretend to know all of the influences that contributed to that spike, however, if you’re near my age, you were raised by baby boomers and undoubtedly heard the same message I did:

“Go to college so you’ll get a good job.”

The message was loud and clear, so much so, that people in my generation headed to college in very large numbers.  If you’re in my generation and didn’t go to college (so you’ll get a good job) you’ve still probably told your own children zillion times that they must go to college (so they’ll get a good job) and it should be pursued at all costs.  It’s deeply ingrained!  But is it still the right advice?


The reason for the quick history lesson is to demonstrate the growth pace of higher education from 1600’s to 1700’s (like a turtle) and then to the 1800’s (same turtle) and then to the 1900’s (same old tired turtle).  From 1900 to 2000 our turtle gets spunky, but from 2000 to 2017?  He’s pretty much got a jet engine strapped to his back.

When old-fashioned correspondence courses were replaced by computer-based distance learning around 2000, everything changed.   Within only 5 years- the industry computermanaged to get a handle on delivering legitimate and accredited courses through roughly 98% of all public colleges and universities, and by the end of the first decade, you could even attend public K-12 online.   For our children, the “go to college” message is very strong, but our children are more resourceful and capable of attaining an education than we could have ever imagined.  With access to information only a click away, our teens expect education to be free, streaming, and shareable.  They expect technologically capabilities that remove inefficiencies – and there are more than a few inefficiencies in the “traditional” college experience.

Some estimate that just under half of all college students will take at least one online course during the completion of their degree, but millions will take courses that are both free and do not offer college credit.  MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have tapped into the deep desire for education without the inefficiencies of going to a building somewhere to learn.  Coursera, a large provider of MOOCs, had educated over 5 million students by 2013.  Wrapped into the MOOCs providers are all of the “brand name” university partners you could ever dream of:  Stanford, MIT, Harvard, etc.  Students have access, the courses are free, the courses are streamable, and the courses are shareable.  If the course is poor, the student simply drops and chooses something else.  If the course fills a need for the student, they can dive in and “binge-watch” an entire semester in a weekend!

Students who’ve grown up in the world of non-traditional education (homeschool), with instant access to free content, and a solid awareness of how to access ANYTHING they want to learn, technology is part of their world in a way that hadn’t existed before Placeholder Imagethis millennium.  Is it so impossible to accept that this generation of teens has a different understanding of what education means?  When my children & teens want to know something, they usually Google it.  (YES!  I still taught them how to use an encyclopedia.)  When they’re stuck on an algebra problem, it’s Khan Academy that patiently explains and demonstrates with perfect clarity who to solve the equation.  It’s Professor Martyn Poliakoff at The University of Nottingham who taught my teens about elements of the Periodic Table.  Frankly, our students can access experts in every field through their computer, something unimaginable even 20 years ago.

It’s no surprise that non-college-based learning has developed at an astounding rate.  It’s also no surprise, that there are wrinkles in the cloth.  While a few bad apples spoil the bunch, a uniquely new trend is the “coding boot camp.”  These programs are not affiliated with colleges, eliminate liberal arts and other “college” courses, and get right to the training.  In short, it’s a fast program meant to train coders and get them working asap.  Coding boot camps are almost never longer than 6 months, and graduates of good programs find (high paying) jobs quickly.  It’s hard to argue “go to college, get a good job” confused.jpgwhen colleges graduates are leaving college after 4-6 years with $35,000-$200,000 in student loans and a staggering unemployment rate.  Less than 20% will graduate in 4 years, and about 50% will leave with the debt but not a degree.  The average cost of a coding boot camp lasts about 4 months, costs about $15,000 and graduates can expect to walk into jobs paying around $80,000.  To recap, by the time my high school senior leaves for college in the fall, his classmate may have already finished boot camp and moved to Silicon Valley.

“Go to college so you’ll get a good job.”

Did I mention things are changing at lightning speed?  In an article by CNN Money earlier this week, a new “university” that isn’t really a university at all, just entered the playing field and may be a game-changer.  MissionU has merged the concept of coding boot camp (fast-relevant teaching) with significant industry input  (Spotify, Uber, Caper, Lyft, Facebook, Chegg founders built the curriculum) and the debt-free mentality into a new program that launches later this year.  MissionU is a “learn now, pay later” concept that takes a percentage of your salary once you graduate, but only if you earn more than $50,000 per year.  Students who graduate but do not meet that threshold will never have to pay anything.  The concept, in my humble opinion, is brilliant, because it forces educators to put their money where their mouth is.  This is a significant shift towards a model of shared responsibility.  The school is sharing the responsibility of the student, in essence, they promise to deliver a product “or your money back.”

The traditional college experience is filled with snake pits and makes little to no effort to help students and parents navigate the system.  In fact, colleges offer dozens of majors that lead to high debt and unemployment- it’s on you not to choose one.   I’ll stop short of speaking too harshly because students and parents should take more responsibility before dropping a quarter of a million dollars on their education, but I’ll just finish by saying that colleges are not financially motivated to help your student avoid those mistakes, and it is very hard to get good advice that holds your teen’s best interests at heart.

In closing, the purpose of today’s post is to warn parents in my generation, that what we “know” and “trust” to be true about the “best” and “most direct” path to a rewarding career looks different than when we were pondering our own path.  Our trust and confidence are based on a foundation that is shaky and being redesigned before our eyes.  To say that the education industry has been disrupted is an understatement- it’s completely being revolutionized.  In fact, I can’t even begin to imagine where we’ll be in 6 years when my youngest sets out on this journey for himself.  I’d like to leave you with 3 tips to help you navigate this process:

  1. Work backward.  Start with a target career, and then build a plan to achieve the skills and credentials to practice that career.  The most common mistake is choosing a college before a career plan is devised.  Until you know the exact pathway required (including licenses, certifications, degrees, etc.) to practice the career, you may be wasting valuable time and money.
  2. Constant retraining is expected.  Years ago, one trained for a career and their value as an employee came from their years of experience.  In today’s market, constant retraining is expected.  As such, it doesn’t make sense to invest “everything” in an undergraduate degree that serves to “check the box” while more education, certifications, and credentials will all be expected to remain current and competitive.
  3. Be open minded.  As we’ve seen in the past 17 years, the educational landscape has changed significantly, and the only thing we can be sure of is that more change is coming!

students

Posted in Breaking News, Dual Enrollment, Free Tuition, Science, Self-Paced Learning, Straighterline

*FREE Straighterline Labs, AP, and $3/credit classes through 6/3/17*

If you currently have an active Straighterline account – I want to share an unexpectedly great deal I just discovered today!

As you may know, there is a current Straighterline code through June 3rd for $50 off (enter code Homeschool50 at checkout.)  I used it for #2 son, but not #3, because #3 won’t have time to complete another class before summer break and I hate wasting time just as much as wasting money.

On a whim, I called Straighterline and asked what would happen to a class that I purchased now but we didn’t get to use.  They told me it would sit in our account FOREVER.  I wasn’t sure she understood my question, so I clearly explained that we were closing our account for summer vacation.  She assured me that purchased courses are in our a=jumpccount forever, will never expire, and will never disappear when we close our account.  So, in the fall, if I reactivate his account, it would be ready and be waiting for him to pick up where he left off!

What that means:  Active members (those currently paying the $99/month fee) should purchase one of the following courses using the HOMESCHOOL50 code before June 3rd or before your account membership expires- whichever happens first.   This short list contains the least expensive SL courses, that when the code is applied, brings the cost down to $0 – $9 each!!  That price is not per credit, it’s for the ENTIRE course PLUS the required e-book/textbook. The code can only be used one time per account.


Free Straighterline Labs

The student must purchase the lab kit on their own!

  • Anatomy & Physiology I Lab (1 credit) $0
  • Anatomy & Physiology II Lab (1 credit) $0
  • General Chemistry Lab (1 credit) $0
  • General Physics Lab (1 credit) $0
  • Biology Lab (1 credit) $0

AP Classes

Straigherline is an approved provider of 4 Advanced Placement classes.  Completion of one of these courses allows you to list the course on your homeschool transcript as Advanced Placement.  Taking an AP exam is optional and the responsibility of the student.

  • Macroeconomics (Counts as an official AP High School Course) (3 credits) $9
  • Microeconomics (Counts as an official AP High School Course)  (3 credits) $9
  • Intro. to Psychology (Counts as an official AP High School Course) (3 credits) $9

College Classes for $3 per Credit or Less!

  • Introduction to Statistics (3 credits) $0
  • Accounting I  (3 credits) $9
  • Accounting II (3 credits) $9
  • Business Ethics (3 credits) $9
  • Business Law (3 credits) $9
  • Business Statistics (3 credits) $9
  • Financial Accounting (3 credits) $9
  • Macroeconomics (3 credits) $9
  • Managerial Accounting (3 credits) $9
  • Microeconomics (3 credits) $9
  • Organizational Behavior (3 credits) $9
  • Personal Finance (3 credits) $9
  • Principles of Management (3 credits) $9
  • Anatomy & Physiology I (3 credits) $9
  • Anatomy & Physiology II (3 credits) $9
  • Medical Terminology (3 credits) $9
  • Microbiology Lab (1 credit) $0
  • Pharmacology I (3 credits) $9
  • Pharmacology II (3 credits) $9
  • American Government (3 credits) $9
  • Cultural Anthropology (3 credits) $9
  • Introduction to Criminal Justice (3 credits) $9
  • Introduction to Philosophy (3 credits) $9
  • Introduction to Religion (3 credits) $9
  • US History I (3 credits) $9
  • US History II (3 credits) $9
  • Western Civ I (3 credits) $9
  • Western Civ II (3 credits) $9
  • College Algebra (3 credits) $9
  • PreCalculus (3 credits) $9
  • General Chemistry (3 credits) $9
  • Environmental Science (3 credits) $9
  • Introduction to Nutrition (3 credits) $9
  • Intro. to Psychology  (3 credits) $9
  • Introduction to Sociology (3 credits) $9

If you want help picking a class my post  Straighterline Dissected: What to Take should help a great deal!

 

 

 

 

 

Note:  Non-subscribers or inactive members can do everything in this post, but you’ll have to pay to restart your subscription fee ($99) so this is NOT a good deal unless you were already planning to enroll your student at this time. In addition, you should know about the pros and cons of using SL in your homeschool.  See this post to get started:  Straighterline Basics and explore manyStraighterline posts by clicking the Straighterline tab.   

Posted in AP Advanced Placement, CLEP, Curriculum, Distance Learning, DSST, High School, Self-Paced Learning

The Great Courses

In 2008, I was struggling through a college Anatomy & Physiology course when I turned to youtube for some help.  I stumbled upon a video by Dr. Anthony A. Goodman – it blew me away.  Not only did he help me understand the information, but I dug until I found the rest of his lectures- they were that good.  As it turned out, they were eventually pulled from Youtube for copyright violation (oops) but I found the source: The Great Courses

Here’s the short of it:  The Great Courses are usually (not always) college-level learning taught by well respected and highly regarded professors.  These are not worth college credit when taken alone, rather they are used in your homeschool as a high school curriculum.  You could then marry the program with other test prep material if you desire to finish your teen’s program with AP, CLEP, or other exam credit.

Format:  Individual Great Courses are available on DVD, CD, Audio, or you can stream their whole Plus catalog on demand through their new Great Courses Plus program (monthly subscription).   While I am not a Plus subscriber, the Plus program looks amazing!  It will appeal greatly to those of you who use technology in your classroom or are already comfortable with products like Amazon Prime, Apple TV, mobile device based streaming, for entertainment.  This product fits into that category perfectly.   Plus program subscribers also have the option of purchasing hard copies at a deep discount (70% off).  

This promotional link gives you 1 month free:

The Great Courses Plus – One Month Free


CLEP & AP Friendly?  I asked our membership if they thought the Great Courses alone were “enough” to prepare their teen for an AP exam or CLEP exam, or if it served as the main curriculum and they followed up with CLEP/AP prep.  This is what they had to say:

Jude Barrier Dickson writes…” I don’t think any TGC {The Great Courses} is enough for an AP or CLEP exam. This is NOT to say they are not valuable, and be sure to know we use them extensively, but I find the best practice for exams are flash cards of info, presented as they would be in an AP or CLEP test.”

Wendy G.  writes… “Lots of CLEP and AP here and I also don’t think TGC would alone be enough, we just use them as supplemental.”

Selecting TGC for Your Homeschool

Since no single course stands alone as your curriculum and test prep, this small selection is representative of the types of courses I believe would enhance your homeschooling for college credit program.  I’ve deliberately selected courses from the Plus list since they are all also available for DVD purchase if you choose.  (Not all DVDs are available to stream)

SCIENCE: The Great Courses Plus

AP or CLEP Biology Program:  Biology The Science of Life, The Joy of Science, Understanding Genetics, and What Science Knows About Cancer.

AP or CLEP Psychology Program:  Mysteries of Human Behavior, Biology, and Human Behavior, Understanding the Brain, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

AP or CLEP Chemistry Program:  Chemistry our Universe, Chemistry 2nd Edition, Nature of Matter, and Organic Chemistry.

HISTORY: The Great Courses

AP or CLEP American History Program:  History of the United States 2nd Edition, Experiencing America, World War II, and Decisive Battles of History.

DSST Civil War Program: American Civil War, History of the United States 2nd Edition, and The Life of Abraham Lincoln

ECONOMICS: The Great Courses

AP or CLEP Economics Program:  An Economic History of the World, The Economics of Uncertainty, and New Global Economy.

OTHER: The Great Courses to Consider

DSST Cultural Anthropology Program:  Customs of the World and Cultures of the World.

AP or DSST Environmental Science (Human Cultural Geography): Understanding Cultural and Human Geography, The Science of Energy, and Fundamentals of Sustainable Living.

AP or DSST Statistics and Probability Program:  Big Data How Analytics are Changing the World, Probability Made Clear, Mathematics of Games and Puzzles, and Game Theory.

AP Music Theory Program:  Music and History, Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, Mozart’s Chamber Music, Greatest Orchestral Works, and Great Solo Piano Works.

CLEP Humanities Program:  Understanding Opera, History of European Art, Masterpieces of the Ancient World, How to Look at and Understand Great Art, The World’s Greatest Churches, The Louvre, and Understand Great Music.


 

If your family has used The Great Courses in your homeschool, let me know your favorites, and I’ll add them to this page!  Contact Jennifer

Posted in ACE, AP Advanced Placement, CLEP, Credit by Exam, Curriculum, Distance Learning, Self-Paced Learning, Sophia, Straighterline

Fine Arts

Fine Arts for College Credit

Most general Associate of Arts and Associate of Science (2 year) degrees have at least 1 “Fine Arts” requirement (3 college credits), and you can usually fill that in high school.

Exception:  if your teen is headed into a fine arts college, a music conservatory, or other highly specialized area of fine arts education, you’ll want to check with target colleges before accumulating a lot of college credit in high school.  Specialized art/music colleges sometimes have a policy against accepting transfer credit of any kind, but may allow your teen use Advanced Placement exam scores to boost their admissions application. 

The list of acceptable “Fine Arts” courses will differ slightly by institution, but the following courses will do the trick most of the time.  colors3

  1. Literature
  2. Music Theory
  3. Music Performance
  4. Art History
  5. Studio Art
  6. Humanities

Ways to Fill a College Fine Arts Requirement in High School

Dual Enrollment (contact your local Community College for information)

  • Dual enrollment has the highest probability of transfer assuming the target college accepts transfer credit.  Dual enrollment credit earned in high school is not considered “transfer credit” by most schools, but does carry a grade as part of the student’s permanent record.

Credit by Exam (CLEP, AP, DSST, Saylor, ECE/Uexcel)

  • Credit by Exam (CBE) acceptance varies dramatically.  CBE credit earned in high school is not considered “transfer credit” and generally does not carry a grade (pass/fail only).

Non-College ACE Credit (Straighterline, Sophia, Shmoop, Study, ed4credit, Propero)

  • ACE Credit is generally not accepted except when a partnership exists.  Some companies, like Straighterline, have credit-transfer-guarantee partnerships with more than 100 colleges.  ACE credit earned in high school is not considered “transfer credit” and generally does not carry a grade (pass/fail only).

Credit by Exam

(last update:  04/07/2017)

EXAM NAME EXAMS OFFERED COST LINK
Advanced Placement (AP) Art History (6 cr.)

Studio Art (6 cr.)

$93 Official AP Page
DSST Art of the Western World (3 cr.) $80 + local proctor fee (~$20) Official DSST Page
CLEP American Literature (3 cr.)

English Literature (3 cr.)

Analyzing & Interpreting Literature (3 cr.)

Humanities (6 cr.)

$80 + local proctor fee (~$20) Official CLEP Page
Excelsior College Exam (ECE / Uexcel) Introduction to Music (3 cr.) $110 + $60 local proctor fee Official Uexcel Page
Saylor NONE $0 + $25 webcam proctor fee Official Saylor Page

music

Non-College ACE Credit Courses

(last update:  04/07/2017)

COMPANY NAME COURSES OFFERED COST LINK
Shmoop American Literature (3 cr.)

The Bible as Literature (3 cr.)

British Literature (3 cr.)

Contemporary Literature (3 cr.)

Drugs in Literature (3 cr.)

Holocaust Literature (3 cr.)

Introduction to Poetry (3 cr.)

Literature in the Media (3 cr.)

Modernist Literature (3 cr.)

Shakespeare’s Plays (3 cr.)

Western Literature (3 cr.)

Women’s Literature (3 cr.)

$87.68/mo. subscribe

Unlimited courses

Shmoop
Study.com Introduction to Humanities (3 cr.) $199/mo. subscribe. Limit 2 courses per month Study.com
Propero (Pearson) Literature (3 cr.) $330 per class Propero
Sophia Visual Communications (3 cr.)

Introduction to Art History (3 cr.)

$329 per class Sophia
Straighterline NONE $99/mo. subscribe + $59 per class Straighterline
Ed4Credit Literature (3 cr.)

Film Appreciation (3 cr.)

$195 per class Ed4Credit
Davar Academy (NCCRS approved, not ACE approved) NONE $70 per class + $25 web proctoring  Davar

relaxing2

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

Straighterline Dissected: What to Take

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 250 750 Final exam 250
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 150

3 speeches totaling 300

850 Final exam 150
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 250 750 Final exam 250
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 250 750 Final exam 250
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

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, Self-Paced Learning, Straighterline

Straighterline Basics

Disclaimer:  Straighterline is a registered trademark.  The content of this blog is not endorsed, evaluated, or approved by Straighterline in any way.

Official Website:  www.straighterline.com

What:  Straighterline is a business that offers online courses.

Who authorizes the credit? The courses have been evaluated by the American Council on Education as college credit eligible.

Who accepts the credit?  Straighterline has over 100 partner colleges that have formal credit arrangements.  Not all of their partners accept all of their courses for credit.  Furthermore, the course equivalency list may be one or more semesters old.  Confirm that your target college awards credit before enrolling.   Interesting point:  Straighterline has more partner colleges than anyone else in this segment. 

How it works:  I suggest visiting their official website for a detailed overview, but I’ll give you the quick version.  You pay a monthly subscription fee of $99 per user.  You then purchase courses a la carte as you need them (average around $50 each).  For most of the courses, a textbook is required, but they incorporate a “free” ebook into the course fee.  If you want a physical text, you’ll have to buy that on your own.  The contents of the course are self-paced and NOT proctored.  Quizzes, exams, homework, and midterm exams are open book.  After you complete all of the course’s required activities, you’ll take the proctored final exam (if applies) via webcam on your home computer.  They use a third party proctor company called ProctorU to monitor you during your test. Your exam score is uploaded instantly.  If you passed the course, you must complete the final step of getting your course onto your ACE transcript.

What is an ACE transcript?  Create an ACE account  Each of your homeschooled students needs their own ACE account with individual email addresses.  Creating a transcript is free but not so easy.  I’ve made a short Youtube Video to walk you through the process.  Save their login information, they’ll keep the same account for life.

Potential:  Straighterline offers 55 courses for college credit totaling about 156 potential credits.  Note that most of the partner schools cap the number of StraighterLine credits you can use toward a degree.   Strict schools allow as few as 30, while generous schools allow up to 90.

Cost:  Cost is difficult to determine since the pace you complete the course determines the cost.  Students are incentivised to work quickly because the faster you complete the course, the cheaper it is.   The minimum cost to complete any course is one month ($99) plus the cost of the course(s) you choose.  Straighterline’s marketing material suggests you can complete 1 course in a month.  Completing 1 course in a month is about $150/month. I can tell you that the adult learners on InstnatCert focus on speed over learning. It isn’t unusual for members to power through an entire course in under a week, which brings the cost down considerably.

My high school teens complete an average of 2 courses per month if they’re adding as a subject to their school day, but have done 3 courses in a month when it was their “only school” subject for the month. Completing 3 courses costs $99 subscription + $59 per course (x 3) = $178*.  So, you can see it is more cost effective to complete SL courses QUICKLY and in BULK rather than spread out over a semester.  

Scholarships:  Straighterline has scholarship arrangements with many partner schools.  A typical arrangement is “complete 4 courses with StraighterLine and receives 10% off tuition.”  Check to see if your target school is on their Scholarship Participants list.

Codes:  Codes reduce the cost of your SL course, and there are always codes. I keep a current list here: Discount Codes.  It is normal to receive $50 off each course you register for, and they NEVER EXPIRE, so you can purchase the courses during a promo code period, and use it later!   (I use codes for all our classes.  In the above sample, my son completed 3 courses  *9 college credits*, each with a $50 off code for a total of $127!