Two Million Home Schooled, New Study Estimates

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A new study
from the National
Home Education Research Institute
(NHERI) estimates that there
are over two million children currently being home schooled in the
United States. The author of the study, NHERI’s president Dr.
Brian D. Ray, analyzed data from both state and federal education
agencies as well as private home-school groups, concluding that
there are as many as 2.346 million home-schooled students across
the nation.

According to
the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010 there were about 54 million children
between the ages of five and 17 in the U.S., meaning that nearly
four percent of school-aged kids – or one in 25 – are
being home schooled.

Factored into
the study was Ray’s calculation that an estimated ten percent
of home-schooled families are “underground,” meaning that
parents have chosen not to register their children with the state
because of compulsory attendance laws and other concerns.

home schoolers can be found in all walks of life,” noted a
press release from the NHERI, “and with … a proven record
of academic as well as social success, home schooling is rapidly
becoming a mainstream education alternative.”

Michael Smith,
president of the Home School Legal
Defense Association
, called the latest numbers “remarkable,”
noting that “just 30 years ago there were only an estimated
20,000 home schooled children.”

Ray predicts
another “notable surge” in home schooling numbers in the
next five to ten years, as those who were home schooled in the 1990s
choose that education option for their own children as well.

A 2006 study
by the Department of Education found that 31 percent of parents
who taught their kids at home did so out of concern for the public
school environment, citing such issues as “safety, drugs or
negative peer pressure.” Another 30 percent said that home
schooling offered them the ability to “provide their children
with religious or moral instruction.” An additional 16.5 percent
of parents cited dissatisfaction with “the academic instruction
available” in the public schools, while about 14 percent said
they chose home schooling because of special needs of their children.

While public
school officials and education “experts” have tried to
denigrate the home schooling option as inferior to the tax-funded
marvel of public education, both research and anecdotal evidence
has demonstrated that children taught at home perform better than
their public school counterparts.

For example,
a 2009 study by the NHERI found that home schoolers score an average
of 34 to 39 percentile points higher than the norm on standardized
achievement tests. According to Dr. Ray, who headed up the research,
the national average for home-schooled students ranged from the
84th percentile for language, math, and social studies to the 89th
percentile for reading.

The study also
found that achievement gaps common among public school students
do not exist among home schoolers. Among the findings:

  • Home-schooled
    boys (87th percentile) and girls (88th percentile) scored equally
    well on standardized tests.
  • The income
    level of parents was not an appreciable factor in how home-schooled
    students performed, with children from poorer households (incomes
    under $35,000) scoring in the 85th percentile, and those from
    wealthier homes (income over $70,000) scoring in the 89th percentile.
  • Although
    the education level of parents did have somewhat of an impact
    on the results, even home schoolers whose parents did not have
    college degrees scored in the 83rd percentile, well above the
    national average for public school students.

Research also
confirms that the high performance of home-schooled students continues
when they reach college. The Journal of College Admission cited
a recent report showing that “home school students possess
higher ACT scores, grade point averages (GPAs) and graduation rates
when compared to traditionally educated students.”

the rest of the article

11, 2011

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