The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC — With more than 2 million K–12 students in the U.S. currently being educated at home, the popularity of homeschooling continues to rise. Since 1999, the number of homeschooled students has increased by a staggering 75%, mostly in response to increasing dissatisfaction and frustration with the public school system.
Statistics from the U.S. Department of Education recently documented less than a 1% increase in enrollment of K–12 public school students nationwide, but the homeschool population increased by a whopping 7%. Almost 4% (and growing) of our nation’s school-age children are being educated at home.
Research has proven that parents are more than capable of successfully educating their children at home. Surveys of homeschoolers’ academic successes consistently reveal that they score, on average, at the 65th to 89th percentile on standardized academic achievement tests, compared to a national school average at the 50th percentile. Interestingly, according to a recent, nationwide survey of homeschoolers commissioned by the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), achievement gaps that are “well-documented in public school between boys and girls, parents with lower incomes, and parents with lower levels of education are not found among homeschoolers.”
Recent studies laud homeschoolers’ academic success, noting their significantly higher ACT-Composite scores as high schoolers and higher grade point averages as college students. Yet surprisingly, the average expenditure for the education of a homeschooled child, per year, is $500 to $600, compared to an average expenditure of $10,000 per child, per year, for public school students.
More than ever, homeschool grads are scoring points with college recruiters. Compared to the overall population of college students, homeschool grads achieve a higher retention rate and a higher graduation rate as they pursue education beyond the training provided by their parents. Dori Staehle, in her February 2012 article, notes that schools such as Harvard, Yale, MIT, Stanford, and Duke are actively recruiting homeschoolers—and offering them scholarships. She cites the characteristics of homeschoolers who have gotten their attention: “These students tend to be exceptionally bright, motivated, and mature. Far from being sheltered and shy (the typical stereotypes), homeschoolers’ applications reflect students who have traveled, taken risks, and studied some pretty intense topics.”
National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) survey results confirm that homeschoolers are “engaged, at least as much as are others, in activities that predict leadership in adulthood” and are “satisfied that they were home educated.” Homeschool graduates are more civically engaged than the general public and demonstrate “healthy social, psychological, and emotional development, and success into adulthood.” Apparently homeschoolers are getting excellent grades on their report cards—both academically and socially!
Based on recent data, researchers such as Dr. Brian Ray (NHERI.org) “expect to observe a notable surge in the number of children being homeschooled in the next 5 to 10 years. The rise would be in terms of both absolute numbers and percentage of the K to 12 student population. This increase would be in part because . . .  a large number of those individuals who were being home educated in the 1990s may begin to homeschool their own school-age children and  the continued successes of home-educated students.”
Dr. Gary Knowles, a professor at the University of Michigan, conducted a survey of homeschool grads who are now successful adults. He found that “an amazing 96% said if they could do it all over again they would want to be homeschooled. Not a single one was unemployed or on welfare. That is pretty impressive.”
Homeschooling parents have chosen to educate their own kids at home for a myriad of reasons, and many say they are in it for the long haul. It’s a matter of conviction and dedication. And, judging from the current state of the public school system, the answer for thousands of parents in this country is clear and simple: homeschool them.
Are homeschoolers “making education history”? For sure. As did the homeschooling parents of individuals such as Abraham Lincoln, Booker T. Washington, Thomas Edison, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Andrew Wyeth, equipped with parental insight and motivation to see their children succeed academically and socially, today’s homeschooling parents are making education history.