Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency

by Howard Richman

Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency (PHAA) is a state-wide homeschool membership organization founded by Dr. Howard B. Richman in 1991 in order to provide legitimate diplomas to the homeschooling community. It has had many beneficial effects, such as encouraging homeschoolers to continue through high school, helping homeschoolers get scholarships to college, and enhancing the reputation of homeschool graduates by collecting and publicizing statistics about its graduates. Beginning with just 6 graduates in 1991, PHAA had 531 in 2002.

PHAA is just one of six organizations that now provide diplomas to Pennsylvania's homeschooling community. These organizations give homeschoolers an alternative to the GED and the correspondence school diploma. Unlike the GED, these diplomas bear no stigma; in fact PHAA's graduates generally do better on tests than school-educated students. Unlike most correspondence school programs, PHAA's requirements are very flexible permitting homeschoolers to complete their course work in a wide variety of ways.

At the end of each year, a PHAA member evaluator meets with a member families, reviews the student's portfolio, interviews the student, and awards credits by filling out and signing a PHAA transcript.

PHAA's standards, which can be found in its bylaws are based upon seven principles:

  1. Homeschool graduates should be literate.
  2. Requirements should be construed in flexible ways.
  3. Homeschooling families can be trusted.
  4. Outside structure can be helpful.
  5. Requirements should be clear.
  6. Diplomas mean more if someone outside the family is involved.
  7. Graduates are not drop outs.

PHAA was incorporated as a non-profit corporation on January 1, 1996. Members at the annual membership meeting (at PHAA's annual High School at Home Conference) elect the Board of Directors who in turn elect the officers of the corporation. When changes in its bylaws are proposed at a membership meeting they are voted on through a written ballot.

In addition to awarding diplomas, PHAA publishes a state-wide high school student newsletter called the Excelsior which is edited by a different senior each year and is free to high school students in the program.

PHAA holds graduation ceremonies each year in Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. All members of PHAA receive the Excelsior which is edited by a different senior student in the program each year.

PHAA also holds an annual High School at Home Conference. Recent conferences have been scheduled for a Saturday in July at the Harrisburg Marriott. To find out about upcoming PHAA events, see the calendar.

PHAA students are recognized by the NCAA as being eligible for college athletic scholarships. (Click here for a listing of the PHAA "core courses" that are recognized by the NCAA.)

The Guide to PA Homeschoolers Diploma ($5) by Howard and Susan Richman explains PHAA's standards and procedures, includes copies of its membership forms, and gives other helpful information about high school at home.

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