When I started the PACESuccess website and project, I was focused on my own students in eastern Pennsylvania. Gradually I became aware of other homeschoolers in the United States who found the resources and videos helpful and communicated with me periodically. Then I discovered that ACE is being used by schools and homeschoolers in South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, England, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand, Kenya, Singapore, and other countries. As a result of a survey I conducted about diploma programs and graduations I further became aware that the terminology, process, and graduation requirements around the world are very different than I was familiar with. So, this has been a learning experience for me! This article summarizes my current understanding of the differences between finishing high school in the United States compared to the rest of the world. (If something here is not accurate, please let me know so I can correct it!)
Using a Driver’s License as an Illustration
I want to use a familiar example to help understand the differences first. To get a driver’s license in the United States, each and every state has their own laws and requirements. They may be similar, but there will be differences as well – such as age, required hours of behind-the-wheel instruction, etc. But every state accepts the driver’s license of every other state. Going to a foreign country is different. Some countries do not accept the driver’s licenses of other countries. But there is an “international Driver’s License” that virtually every country honors. Many American missionaries go through the process of getting that just to avoid problems. Again, the process and requirements to get that international license are similar but the issuing agency sets the standard.
There are parallels between the driver’s license illustration and getting a high school diploma.
1. Every state in the United States has its own requirements for homeschoolers to get a recognized diploma. (See separate article about options for students in the U.S.)
2. There is an International High School Diploma (called a “Certificate”) issued in either the United Kingdom or South Africa. Other countries and agencies can become a part of the International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE). This certification program was created to help Christian school students and homeschool students acquire a legally acceptable Certificate like the Government schools issue. This in turn allows students to go to University (as post-high school education is called outside the United States.)
Dave S, from the ICCE office in Zimbabwe, wrote me to give this clarification:
“We are indeed an appointed overseas ICCE coordinator which allows us to moderate ACE Pace tests from 1085 onwards here in Zimbabwe and then these results, combined with some extra coursework (comprising essays and science projects which are moderated in UK), entitle the kids to the ICCE General, Intermediate or Advanced Certificate options.
“I have found the ICCE board to be fairly flexible with regards to crediting kids with various extra curricula activities that can be counted towards their ICCE certificate. For example, achievements in internationally recognized but locally held Speech and Drama competitions, as well as sporting achievements, especially if at national level have been granted part or full credit. They do offer a few Alpha & Omega courses as being creditable, as well as Rosetta Stone and one or two others.”
According to the International Certificate of Christian Education website, their purpose is as follows:
The International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE) has been available in the UK for several years and was formerly known as the National Christian Schools’ Certificate (NCSC). The ICCE is being accepted by colleges and universities around the world.
The ICCE Programme is based on the Accelerated Christian Education (A.C.E.) curriculum, which has been used in Christian schools and homeschools around the world for the past 40 years. The ICCE is a Christian alternative to secular qualifications and is recognized by a growing number of employers and universities in many countries. The ICCE provides a standard of education that effectively equips students for higher education and the workplace. It assists and encourages students to know, understand and apply the Word of God, enabling them to approach life situations from a Biblical perspective.
ICCE provides graduating students with an internationally accepted qualification that enables them to gain entrance to universities and colleges around the world and to find their place in the world of work according to their interests, aptitudes and achievements.
In order to register for the ICCE qualification, you must be a member of a school or homeschool academy that is registered with your Regional ICCE Office.
Key words defined
Here are some different definitions of words that I have come to better understand:
College – in the US., this means education after 12th grade, or high school, has been completed. In other parts of the world, the term “college” often refers to the high school grades.
University – in the rest of the world, and now more and more in the U.S., this is the term being used for any schooling after the required high school education.
Diploma – in the U.S. this is the paper that high school graduates hold on to as proof they finished high school. In reality, the actual paper, often made to look attractive with calligraphy fonts, is just for framing on the wall and is not the proof that post-secondary institutions and employers actually want to see.
Transcript – the high school transcript is more likely the paperwork that a U.S. college or University wants to see as it summarizes all the high school courses, credits, grades, and GPA (Grade Point Average). Most institutions want to receive this important document directly from a school office and not handed to them by the parents.
Certificate – in other parts of the world, a “certificate” is the equivalent of both the diploma and transcript, it is the official proof of having completed the government’s requirements for secondary education.
Another interesting insight from Dave S, head of the ICCE office in Zimbabwe, is that homeschooling is really growing there in recent years. Due to the poor economy, many ACE Learning Centres (schools) have had to close as parents could not pay for tuition. Also, recently the government starting requiring these Learning Centres to pay an annual fee to stay open and be recognized as a legal school, and that burden caused some to close as well. However, the ICCE office in Zimbabwe has over 750 students registered as working toward their ICCE certificates, and the number of homeschoolers continues to increase. These students are all using ACE as their core curriculum.
I am also aware of another option for earning a Certificate in Europe, and that is TEACH. According to the TEACH website, the mission of The European Academy for Christian Homeschooling is “to provide a comprehensive range of quality services designed to help parents establish and run a homeschooling programme of the highest quality.” They use the ACE curriculum as the core for all levels. They also issue diplomas and transcripts and Certificates.
I am not sure how ICCE and TEACH compare, if they are “competitors”, or if there are advantages of one over another. One observation I believe I heard is that TEACH provides more local group activities and possibly mini-classes for their members.
Again, this is all new to me and to many of the U.S. ACE family, so please send me more feedback to correct or clarify as needed.
You might also be interested in reading my recent article about options here in the U.S. for getting a diploma and transcript.