Home School Honor
Home schoolers, accustomed to going their own way, have established their own scholastic honor society.
Information on the Eta Sigma Alpha Honor Society is available from Ms. Juren at (281) 922-0478, or Barbara Gorman through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students who are taught at home aren’t eligible for the National Honor Society, which is operated by the National Association of Secondary School Principals, based in Reston, Va.
So Joanne E. Juren, a home schooling parent in Texas, started a parallel organization in 1999 for children taught at home. Ms. Juren opened the option of forming chapters of the society, called the Eta Sigma Alpha Honor Society, to home schoolers nationwide last year. To date, home schoolers have established 12 local chapters of Eta Sigma Alpha, with an estimated total membership of 130.
Ms. Juren started the first chapter, which included her two sons, in the Houston area. The former teacher and high school assistant principal started the Alpha chapter of the organization with 10 students in grades 9-12. The chapter now has 30 members.
She got the idea when she found out that the National Honor Society doesn’t admit home schoolers. Such students, she believed, deserved to have a national stamp of recognition for their academic achievements.
The home schooling honor society differs from the National Honor Society in that it requires members to have very high standardized-test scores, as well as a 3.5 grade point average on a 4-point scale. Members must, for example, have a score of 1200 on the SAT or 26 on the ACT.
The National Honor Society requires that members have at least a 3.0 grade point average, but otherwise leaves it to local chapters to determine how best to select students with strong scholarship, leadership, service, and character.
Ms. Juren said the testing requirement is meant to address educators’ suspicions about the grades that home schoolers receive from their parents.
David Cordts, an associate director of student activities for the NASSP, said the National Honor Society can’t admit home schoolers because the organization is school-based.
“The only way you can become a member is for your school to start a chapter and select you and induct you as a member,” he explained.
—Mary Ann Zehr
A version of this article appeared in the November 13, 2002 edition of Education Week