15 December 2007

Homeschool: An Update

Between 1978 and 2003, homeschooling grew at the rate of about 20% a year in the US. In 2003 nearly 1.1 million American children were being homeschooled.
Along with vouchers and charter schools, homeschooling is now considered a true alternative to the public school system. In 2000, 3 percent of elementary and secondary schoolchildren were homeschooled; only 1 percent were in charter schools and a mere one-tenth of 1 percent had vouchers to attend private schools. On the basis of numbers alone, we can see that homeschooling is not limited to the antiestablishment, to fundamentalist religious groups, or to those in the most rural of communities, as was once the claim. It is now the largest school reform alternative.

This increased growth, interestingly enough, has not come at the expense of student performance—quite the opposite. Comparisons in achievement tests of homeschooled students with national averages for all students show that homeschooled children are well above the national average in every subject and at every grade level in the Iowa Test of Basic Skills and in Tests of Achievement and Proficiency.

...Why do homeschooled students do so well? Koret Task Force member and Harvard professor Caroline Hoxby has shown that, of the factors affecting student performance, home environment and family support greatly outweigh school inputs: “Families matter most.” In no schooling pedagogy can the home and the family have more influence than they do in homeschooling. The families of homeschooled children are clearly different from those of traditional schoolchildren. Some 97 percent of homeschooled children live in married couple households; the comparable number for public school students is 72 percent. Nearly 88 percent of homeschooling parents continued their own education beyond high school; less than 50 percent of the general population has attended college. The home environment of these students is supportive and nurturing, and it encourages diligence— homeschooled children watch less television than do typical students. Contributing to the success and growth of homeschooling are technological advances that have made homeschooling easier and provided parents with a wealth of information at their fingertips. Through the Internet, research and support systems abound, providing parents with educational tips, lesson plans, and source material.

...Homeschooling is a sustainable education alternative. The parents (the teachers) are dedicated, and the students are achieving. It is a welcome example of students and teachers working together to achieve outstanding performance....Homeschooling may not be for everyone, but it works well for most and extremely well for some.
Hoover Institution

If parents are able to devote the time and effort to the personal supervision of their children's education, homeschooling can be superior to most alternatives.

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