The last big homeschooling study was done in 1998. It was conducted by Lawrence Rudner of Maryland University and showed great strides in homeschooling. The encouragement it gave to the movement was big, because it showed that homeschooler’s academic scores and measurements in almost category weren’t just keeping up with Public school kids, they were surpassing them. The study was cited everywhere in homeschooling circles for years. The HSLDA just hilighted a more recent study to draw from. This is important since, as they point out, the Rudner study is now eleven years old. It was time to get a good update on the numbers. The reports drew from broad sources and attempted to bring together data from almost 25 years of homeschooling history:
Recognizing this problem, HSLDA commissioned Dr. Brian Ray, an internationally recognized scholar and president of the non-profit National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), to collect data for the 2007–08 academic year for a new study which would build upon 25 years of homeschool academic scholarship conducted by Ray himself, Rudner, and many others.
Drawing from 15 independent testing services, the Progress Report 2009: Homeschool Academic Achievement and Demographics included 11,739 homeschooled students from all 50 states who took three well-known tests—California Achievement Test, Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, and Stanford Achievement Test for the 2007–08 academic year. The Progress Report is the most comprehensive homeschool academic study ever completed.
Here are some of the stats that stood out to me the most:
|National Average Percentile Scores|
a. Core is a combination of Reading, Language, and Math.
b. Composite is a combination of all subtests that the student took on the test.
This is all well and good, but the things that most interested me were the ones dealing with family household income and parent education level. Those are two of the most oft-cited reasons people give for not homeschooling, and for criticizing others who do. The idea that parents can’t do a good job of teaching their children because they don’t have a teaching certificate or that it’s somehow only for the rich gets absolutely crushed by these numbers:
Household income had little impact on the results of homeschooled students.
- $34,999 or less—85th percentile
- $35,000–$49,999—86th percentile
- $50,000–$69,999—86th percentile
- $70,000 or more—89th percentile
The education level of the parents made a noticeable difference, but the homeschooled children of non-college educated parents still scored in the 83rd percentile, which is well above the national average.
- Neither parent has a college degree—83rd percentile
- One parent has a college degree—86th percentile
- Both parents have a college degree—90th percentile
Whether either parent was a certified teacher did not matter.
- Certified (i.e., either parent ever certified)—87th percentile
- Not certified (i.e., neither parent ever certified)—88th percentile
That last stat is joy to my eyes. If homeschooling actually lives up to what it claims to, then we would expect those numbers to be exactly what they are. What I mean is, if public education is inherently limited in it’s results, then it shouldn’t make a difference whether a public school endorsed teaching program is completed by the parent. I can vouch that the homeschooling parent learns as much through teaching as the children do. My wife, for example, has already learned a new math system in order to teach my little girl, and she’s been pouring over Egyptian history text books for weeks now in order to boil down the important parts into a 1st grade level for teaching to the kids. This is the same thing that teachers have to do when they teach a new subject. You don’t actually think that a basketball coach who teaches a history class actually has a degree in history do you? Unlikely. No, they follow a curriculum.
I’ve said it before that all you need to start homeschooling is the internet and to love your kids. We need more kids these days to be raised outside “the system.”