Agreeing with everything said. These days, the "words" in the graduation lingo sometimes need to be sorted out to see your options:
= achieved when a student has completed the course of study required in a school -- public, private, or homeschool. The requirements for achieving graduation are decided by that school and no one else. Schools have standard policies, but they must be loose enough to accommodate transfer students, special needs students, advanced students, etc.
= what you require a student to accomplish before you graduate them from your
school. Requirements often include specific classes, grade average, community service, or testing. Your state may or may not require homeschoolers to teach
certain things to students at certain ages; if so, you clearly must teach those things. Some colleges, especially state colleges, may be looking
for certain items on a transcript. But none of those needs to be included on your
transcript in any particular way or be required for graduation from your
school -- unless you so choose.
= things your state requires regarding education, such as requiring children to attend school from age 7 to age 16, or requiring students to receive instruction in science every year.
Edited to add
: After extensive discussion with a helpful legal assistant at HSLDA, I think I understand that between 2 and 5 states do have some "requirements" for homeschool graduation, at least during the years of compulsory education. They are all very basic, such as 4 credits of English during high school, and nothing as specific as "British Literature" or "Geometry." Two states did add a couple specifics like "American history, participation in government, and economics," phy ed & health, or "arts."
= things a college expects to see on an application to their school. These requirements might include specific high school classes (4 credits in English, etc.), grade averages, SAT/ACT test scores, extracurricular activities, personal recommendations, and a written essay. However, these "requirements" are balanced with other considerations -- how many applicants the school has, special achievements by the student, school diversity goals (in everything from gender to zip code), alumni status, etc. If required high school classes were not taken, typically no-credit, high-school-level courses must be taken before college graduation (at the same cost as credited courses). However, a more advanced course or a test can often be substituted for a requirement.
= a piece of paper you can provide your graduate. It usually includes the name of the school, the name of the student, the date of graduation, and your signature. You can order them online at the HSLDA link Crystal provided, Donna Young has some on her site, places like Office Depot may have forms for you to fill out, and there are other sites like Homeschool Diploma.com . Using nice calligraphy is fun, as is adding a shiny gold sticker or embossing stamp.
= something an outside service awards to a specific institution; the outside service is considered to have expertise in evaluating institutions in a certain field. Accreditation is meant to show that the quality is adequate. For instance, hospitals can be accredited by hospital accreditation boards; if they are not, they might still be a hospital but some insurance companies may not pay or patients may not come. There is more discussion on that here: http://board.mfwbooks.com/viewtopic.php?t=4895
= a list of what the student has accomplished in a certain school. A high school transcript would usually include a list of courses taken from 9th or 10th grade through graduation. Non-academic high school activities may also be listed. Grades are commonly included, though not always; colleges understand that grades have less meaning when there is only one student to compare with.
= a copy of the transcript provided by the school official (you) in a sealed envelope, or mailed directly from the school (you) to the college or whoever requests it. This method just proves that the student has not altered it. Pressing an embosser into it is a cool option.
= a celebration of graduation. I wanted to mention that these days, homeschooled students often have opportunities to participate in a large commencement ceremony with a state homeschool group or local co-op. Of course, a private ceremony at home or at church is also nice. And some students skip it (I did).