What exactly is NIPA?

Northeast Independent Preparatory Academy (NIPA) is a “center for home education” (grades 9–12) accredited by the Georgia Accrediting Commission (GAC).  NIPA consists of an association of parents who work together to provide professional scholastic recognition for our home-schooled students, resulting in diplomas for its graduates that are recognized by the State of Georgia. Each family is committed to academic excellence and collegiate preparedness. With common goals and a common commitment, we endeavor to provide documented accountability of the unique methods and mechanisms we choose for our children’s academic learning.

Does this mean that NIPA is one of those homeschooling academies I’ve read about that meets one day a week with assignments for the rest of the week?

No. We are not a school and we are not open to the public. While several of our families offer academic classes that operate along those lines, these classes are outside of the scope of NIPA (in other words: you can belong to NIPA without taking any of these classes, and you can take these classes without belonging to NIPA). Our members are free to choose from a variety of curricula, classes, correspondence or Internet courses, mentoring, and other methods of home learning as long as they meet college preparatory standards.

Well, then, is NIPA a homeschool support group or a transcript service?

No, we are neither. Although we provide some of the things that a support group may offer, our focus is not on support; and we offer no services for new home schooling families. Nor are we a transcript service. While we produce professional quality transcripts for students who have completed our requirements, we are not in the business of making transcripts for the general public. We are a not-for-profit business.

Why is NIPA now accredited by the GAC instead of the Accrediting Commission for Independent Study (ACIS)? Does this mean that NIPA is now under the state government?

In March of 2005, ACIS unanimously voted to merge with GAC.  ACIS centers will now be under the Independent Programs category at GAC.  The GAC is one of the oldest accrediting bodies in the country, so this change is a good thing and will open more doors for our students.  The answer to the second question is: no.  Just as the Accrediting Commission for Independent Study was outside the government, the Georgia Accreditation Commission is also completely independent of the state government. True, this is the same organization that accredits public and private schools in our state, but it is an organization of professional educators and is outside of the authority of the Georgia Department of Education. One of the many benefits of GAC accreditation is that GAC has national recognition. 

So, then, what exactly is a center for home education?

Centers for Home Education, also known as Centers for Independent Study and Non-Traditional Education Centers, are associations or agencies formed by independent study advocates who are willing to accept responsibility for academic achievement. The whole concept of non-traditional education centers arose out of a desire to bring professional recognition and approval to independent, individualized study, acknowledging that there are a wide variety of means for achieving a college preparatory education (such as: tutorial instruction, home schooling, directed study, correspondence study, distance learning, and individualized instructional programs). Each center agrees to adhere to set standards and guidelines and to provide appropriate documentation; to serve as a place for the display & review of curricula materials;  to evaluate content knowledge in core subjects; to administer and process subject tests and standardized tests; to establish a record of clock hours of independent study for each student; to establish a common understanding and standard of “passing” performance; to maintain a transcript of academic courses completed; to issue diplomas and transcripts of college preparatory courses completed. The center serves as an ally in assisting each student to follow adequate patterns of study, to be successful in academic achievement, to receive professional evaluation and to receive a diploma from an accredited study program. Accredited centers are recognized by the University System of Georgia and by the Georgia Technical Colleges, and graduates of accredited centers have been approved by the Chancellor’s Office of the University System of Georgia for admission into units of the system and are eligible for Georgia HOPE Scholarships.

So, what exactly are the advantages of NIPA membership?

• Accountability, a structured standard and third party objectivity.

• Continuing education and opportunities for service and social interaction.

• Professional recognition for college preparatory work.

• A streamlined college admissions process – treated as if “in school”

• HOPE scholarship eligibility right from the start.

• Dual enrollment

• A professional transcript.

• Reduced college paperwork and entrance requirements.

• Easier admissions or reentry into the public or private school system.

• Colleges like it: NIPA graduates have been accepted at a wide range of University System of Georgia schools, including Georgia State, UGA, and Georgia Tech!  Our graduates have also been accepted at a variety of out of state as well as private institutions including Ivy League colleges and universities.

Sounds attractive, but what are the disadvantages of NIPA membership?

• Extra costs

• Additional rules and regulations

• Greater demand on your time

• Somewhat less freedom in choosing curriculum

• A set school year, beginning August 1 (no more “year-round” homeschooling)

• Required testing and numerical grades for each course

• Additional paperwork and record keeping

• Treated as if “in school” by college (lack of edge for homeschooling “uniqueness”)

• Controversial in the home school community

What exactly are these extra costs that were mentioned?

The extra costs mentioned are basically NIPA’s annual membership fee, which is currently $375 per student per year for students beginning the program in 9th grade. For students who begin our program as upper classmen, the fee is $500 or $750 annually if the student starts in 10th or 11th grade, respectively.  This fee covers our accreditation costs, administrative overhead expenses, member notebooks, and a stipend to help offset the many hours our director gives to NIPA.  There is a senior fee of $60 to cover costs associated with graduation.  We have endeavored to keep our fees as low as possible while providing quality.  Some member families have a reduction of fees due to helping in a major capacity with the administrative work in running our program.  We allow fees to be paid monthly on request.

The extra record keeping and paperwork sounds a bit daunting –– What is involved?

Basically, what’s involved is keeping and submitting records that rigorously document your student’s academic work. The following is a summary of the required paperwork:
• Student Profile – submitted only once when you first apply to NIPA (this document lists all high school level courses your student has already taken or is currently taking at the time of application by course name & number, the date each was completed, instructional resources used, name and educational level of mentor, and number of credits);
• College Preparatory Program checklist;

• Membership Application form, Honor Policy, and Release and Indemnity Agreement; 

• Current Year Schedule (this form lists each course, both by title and by the proper Georgia High School course number; source of instruction; resources used; and grading criterion);

• Credit Report Form (one for each class your student is taking);

• Graded samples of your student’s work – must be submitted each semester, one sample for each academic subject;

• Graded end of semester exams for each academic subject – must be submitted each semester

• Numeric grades – must be submitted each semester for each course by Feb. 15 & June 15 (Jan 15 and May 15 for seniors)

• Monthly Home Study Records (showing the hours spent on each subject per day, per month, and cumulatively) must be submitted monthly.  This form can also be used to verify attendance if needed.
Yes, all this paperwork is a pain, but everyone would agree that the outcome – an accredited diploma – makes the extra effort well worth it. And, while it can seem overwhelming, especially at first, most families find that they develop a routine and that, after awhile, the record keeping becomes almost automatic. An additional organizational aid is the Member Notebook which contains originals of all the forms, as well as guidelines explaining when and to whom each form must be submitted. Another timesaver is that most of these forms are available on the NIPA website; so except for forms requiring a parent’s signature, they can be downloaded, filled out on the computer, and submitted to the NIPA post office box.

Okay, I’m interested! What would I have to do to become a member?

New membership is by invitation only. Each new family must be recommended by a NIPA member in good standing, must have had at least one year of homeschooling experience, and must have a rising 9th–11th grade student. Prospective families should read all of the NIPA guidelines. After careful consideration by parents and students, application can be made to the group by completing our Student Profile and membership application. Our board then reviews all applications for membership. In some cases, our board may wish to meet with prospects to ascertain the best fit for both NIPA and the new family. In some cases the board may assist the applicants in finding a more suitable center for their needs.

Why is the beginning of 11th grade the cut-off for new members?

Since NIPA will be issuing a professional transcript for your student, we are effectively vouching for any work your homeschooled student(s) has completed prior to officially joining NIPA, and thus we require at least a year to observe and monitor the quality of the student’s academic work.

Okay, so what are the responsibilities of NIPA members?

• To pay membership fees timely

• To attend the annual general membership meeting

• To complete 8 hours of continuing education per year if the parent doesn’t have a 4-year college degree (and to keep track of and submit these hours annually)

• To attend at least two NIPA sponsored student activities each school year

• To submit a copy of the Declaration of Intent annually (the form you submit to the county)

• To complete and submit the Membership Application form, the Honor Policy, and Waiver annually

• To complete and submit a Current Year Schedule

• To record daily attendance and the daily clock hours spent on each subject and  submit such on the Monthly Home Study Records 

• To submit graded samples of your student’s work each semester, one sample for each academic subject;

• To submit a graded midterm and a graded final for each academic subject

• To fill out and submit a Credit Report Form for each subject

• To have your student take a proctored midterm and final at the NIPA testing center;

• To use NIPA’s CEEB code when taking the PSAT, SAT, or ACT

• To submit number grades each semester for each course by Feb. 15 & June 30 (Jan 15 and May 15 for seniors)

• To complete and submit a College Preparatory Program checklist (upperclassmen)

• To submit all required paperwork and documentation in a complete form and timely manner

• To keep on file your own copies of all documentation submitted to NIPA

I’d like to find out more. How do I contact you?

To contact NIPA please send an email toMichelle Shaw at michelleas@aol.com


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