HSLDA Online Academy Equips Students through a Personalized Approach
By Klara holscher
"We believe that every child deserves a quality education—and homeschooling is one of the best ways to achieve that."
Megan Ralston and Sandra Kim of the Home School Legal Defense Association recount the history of their organization, its continued growth, and recent partnership with CLT.
What is the history behind HSLDA Online Academy?
The Academy’s purpose is to encourage families to continue homeschooling through high school by providing quality, Christian courses to supplement their students’ education.
HSLDA Online Academy was founded in 2009 by the Home School Legal Defense Association and Patrick Henry College. At that time, the Academy only offered Advanced Placement (AP) courses as a means for homeschooled high school students to take advantage of college credit and scholarship opportunities.
In 2015, we realized that there was a need for younger students who wanted to take advantage of non-AP online courses. So, we introduced our first high school course online and have continued to expand our course list ever since. With each new course, we attempt to better serve the homeschool community.
What sparked the creation of this online platform?
Not every homeschool student had or has access to AP courses. This limited the amount of opportunities they had to earn college credit while still in high school, and specifically limited the number of courses they could take that integrated a Christian perspective. The Academy was created to address these needs.
We are one department of many at HSLDA, and we work to support the larger organizational goal of making homeschooling possible. We have found that some families are intimidated by homeschooling through high school. Whether that’s because they don’t feel qualified to teach English, or they are nervous about under-preparing their students for post-high school plans, we offer our courses a la carte so that families can pick and choose what works best for them and their homeschool plan. In this way, we try to encourage families to continue homeschooling the whole way through high school.
How does the academy tie in with HSLDA as a broader organization?
HSLDA is a non-profit advocacy organization that makes homeschooling possible by protecting homeschooling families and equipping them to provide the best educational experience for their children. HSLDA supports homeschooling for all 50 states and around the world. We have been trusted for over 35 years to care for homeschooling families as we safeguard their freedom and secure the future of home education.
Today, HSLDA provides over 80,000 member families with the peace of mind of knowing that they don’t have to homeschool alone. Whether it’s legal representation, educational consulting, practical resources, or grants for struggling families, everything we do flows from our core mission of making homeschooling possible.
Why does HSLDA seek to support homeschooling?
We believe that every child deserves a quality education—and homeschooling is one of the best ways to achieve that.
No other form of education allows the kind of customization and personalization that homeschooling does. As a homeschooling parent, you are free to teach your child at her own pace, follow her interests, and craft an education plan that meets her specific needs. The result is a unique educational experience that equips your child with the skills and opportunities she needs to really thrive.
We also believe that parents are typically better suited than the government to determine what kind of education works best for their children. Parents know their children’s needs and abilities much better than any government official can—and they’re better able to find ways to meet those needs and nurture those abilities. So, when parents are free to choose and direct their children’s educational experience, it sets the stage for children to thrive.
Do you find that the tests offered by CLT mesh well with this customizable approach to education?
The CLT draws on the same educational principles, so it made sense for us to partner together. We saw that CLT was providing a testing alternative that would provide a better measure of this approach to education. We love to see it when new tools are developed to enable children to thrive and to provide more appropriate measurement that can help unlock the doors of possibility for their future academic success.
What are some practical benefits students have found in taking the CLT 10 and CLT?
We encourage Academy students and HSLDA members to try the CLT10 and/or take the CLT as an alternative to the SAT or ACT. We’ve found it to be a helpful test preparation tool and an opportunity for homeschool students to maximize their test score as they prepare for college.
The CLT10 is free and can be taken at home, which is a great opportunity for all students, not just those who homeschool. This is a wonderful resource for students who want to become familiar and comfortable when taking an unfamiliar test. It’s great preparation for the CLT, and it enters students into a scholarship opportunity that they would not otherwise have available to them. We encourage students to take advantage of the CLT10, especially if they are considering taking the CLT in the future. Students truly have nothing to lose and everything to gain from this opportunity!
Any closing comments?
The mission of CLT is to be commended. Their work in providing a new standard in the test-taking world will (and already does) provide opportunities for the students who have applied themselves well to their studies. It has increased the number of opportunities for success and achievement for homeschool students, and we are excited to see what the future holds!