If you're considering an online high school for your child, trying to find out if the school is accredited may feel like a challenge. K-12 online schools are new enough that government agencies and colleges are still struggling to regulate and accredit them, and there's no centralized list of accredited high schools the way there is a list of accredited colleges. With some extra research, though, you'll be able to find accreditation information on the school you're considering.
Checking Regional Accreditation
In the United States, the most widely recognized accreditation is issued by seven regional agencies, each of which has a territory of several states. You can find a list of the regional accreditation agencies from your state Department of Education or via the University of Oregon website. Each agency has a website with a database of accredited schools, so you should be able to find information on your school there. Be careful when choosing which agency's database to search; the online school you're looking at will be accredited based on where its central organization is located, not where you or other students live.
Most national accreditation agencies in the U.S. are far less respected than the regional ones, and colleges are less likely to accept diplomas from nationally accredited schools. The website of the Council for Higher Education provides a list of the national accreditation agencies that U.S. colleges will accept as legitimate. If the school you are researching says it's accredited by a national agency, check this list to see if the accrediting agency is on it. If it's not, colleges may not accept your school's degrees even if it is accredited.
Talking to Colleges
If you haven't been able to locate information on the school you're researching, or if you just want to take one final precaution, call the admissions offices of a few local colleges. Ask if they would accept a high school degree that came from the institution you're researching. Most colleges will have a list of schools that they won't accept degrees from, usually because they know them to be unaccredited by regional organizations.
Online K-12 options are expanding, and an online high school may be an appealing option for students with specific time constraints. If you want to make sure your child will have the option of transferring high schools or attending college later on, you'll need to find out whether the high school you're considering is accredited before making your final decision.
Chana Kraus-Friedberg has been researching archaeology, history and education for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in "Historical Archaeology" and the "International Journal of Historical Archaeology." She has taught at the GED and college levels, and has a Ph.D. in anthropology.