High School Transcripts vs. Portfolios

Learn the difference between a high school transcript and a portfolio. Determine which is best of for your homeschool child. ConnieAlbers.com

Understanding the difference between a high school portfolio and a transcript is important for homeschool moms.

Let’s begin with defining the terms.


  • A portfolio may be required yearly by your state. Parents usually compile a list of subjects studied, books read, and a sampling of work completed in one year into a neat binder. You only need a sampling of the student’s work to document the progress made that year.


  • A transcript is a document listing the student’s course work and grades, credits earned, volunteer work, and ACT/SAT scores from their high school years. It is similar to a resume. Most parents put this on one sheet. If there has been extensive work on a specific subject, you can create a separate document highlighting the area of study or work done on that topic. Keep in mind that most colleges receive hundreds, if not thousands, of applications. Focus on putting together a concise and accurate summary.

I’m frequently asked whether a high school transcript is needed to graduate as a homeschool student. Currently in Florida the answer is No. Other states may require it, so check with your county homeschool liaison.  However, you will almost certainly need a transcript for any continuing education your child may pursue. Waiting until your child’s 11th or 12th grade years to create this document can be a challenge. Those final years are generally filled with SAT and ACT testing, college applications, and completing high school requirements needed for possible scholarship money. You can avoid this undue stress by staying on top of it early on.

When should you begin creating the transcript? Many parents begin mapping out the high school years during the summer of their child’s 7th grade year. By the end of your child’s 8th grade year all you need to do is create an outline of what the transcript should look like (based on requirements in your state) and begin filling it in.

Even though a transcript is not required, it is recommended that every homeschool student have this document upon graduation from high school. It may seem a bit overwhelming, but it isn’t too difficult.  The key is good record keeping and proper documentation.

There are several good books written specifically to help parents navigate the high school years, understand credits, and write transcripts. A trip to your local library is a great place to start. I recommend two you can look at to start with: Piecing Together the High School Puzzle by Joanne Mastrinocola and Inge Cannon’s Transcript Pro.  You can also visit Inga Cannon’s website and read Why Transcripts are Crucial for Homeschooled High School Students, and 12 Most Common Transcript Errors.

If you have questions or comments please let me know. I’ll be happy to help you navigate these years!