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Certified vs. Accredited High School Diploma

by Lori Garrett-Hatfield, Demand Media

    Adults who need to finish high school have a variety of options to complete their degrees. Some may take their GED tests, or a high school equivalency test. There are adults, however, who want to finish their high school degrees. Adults who want to finish high school have a choice -- online high schools or brick and mortar high schools.

    Options for Adults Who Need to Finish a High School Diploma

    For adults who need to complete their high school diploma, there are several options available. If the adult student is over 16, he can take the GED test. There are classes to help adults study for the GED test. Depending on the state the adult student lives in, there are high school equivalency tests available. There are also adult high schools, both online and in communities, that allow adults to finish their high school classes and be awarded a diploma. Adults who want to continue their education should ask their local vocational/technical school or college what tests they accept before taking a test.

    Certified High Schools

    Some states have high schools that are certified vocational high schools. According to U.S. News and World Report, students at these high schools take both general high school classes and vocational classes. When they graduate, students at a certified vocational high school will receive a high school diploma and a vocational certificate in their field, such as auto repair. But the high schools may have an age requirement -- check with the vocational high school for qualifications. Also, some online high schools say they are certified, but the Office of Adult and Vocational Education states that students instead check for a school's certification with their state Department of Education.

    Accredited High Schools

    Public and private high schools, online and on the ground, are accredited through educational organizations. The largest educational accreditation institution in the United States is AdvancED. Schools and school districts are evaluated and accredited by a rigorous process that involves school visitation, teacher and principal interviews, parent/student interviews and reviews of student work. Private schools may also be accredited through the National Council for Private School Accreditation, which follows roughly same rigorous procedures as AdvancED. There are other smaller regional accrediting institutions throughout the United States. Online high schools can be accredited through AdvancED as well.

    How to Check the Credentials of a High School

    Check with the high school or the state department of education to make sure the high school is accredited. AdvancED has an online tool to check the accreditation of high schools. Most colleges will not accept a diploma from a high school that is not accredited. Students who are going to vocational/technical school, community college or university should also check with those institutions to make sure they accept a diploma from the high school they attend.

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    About the Author

    Lori Garrett-Hatfield has a B.J. in Journalism from the University of Missouri. She has a Ph.D. in Adult Education from the University of Georgia. She has been working in the Education field since 1994, and has taught every grade level in the K-12 system, specializing in English education, and English as a Second Language education.

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