(Nevada News Bureau) – A new study commissioned by the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and conducted by Dr. Brian D. Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute shows home-schooled children performing significantly better than their public school counterparts in numerous ways. The study collected data in the spring of 2008 from 11,739 participants from all 50 states, as well as Guam and Puerto Rico.
The study’s purpose, HSLDA explains, “was to develop a current picture of homeschool students and their families – capturing their demographics and educational background – and analyze the impact of certain variables on homeschoolers’ academic achievement.”
Most importantly, the study shows that homeschooled students continue to outperform their public school peers without regard to background, socioeconomic level or style of homeschooling. Homeschoolers scored anywhere from 34 to 39 points better than the norm on standardized tests.
Surprisingly, the study showed that children of parents who were not certified teachers performed slightly better (88 percent) than children whose parents were teacher-certified (87 percent).
“Critics of homeschooling have long insisted that parents who want to teach their own children should become certified teachers first,” HSLDA noted. “But in this study, students received slightly higher scores if neither parent had ever held a state-issued teaching certificate than if one or both parents had.”
The study did show that homeschooled students with parents holding college degrees fared slightly better; however, the homeschooled students “whose parents did not have college degrees still performed at the 83rd percentile.”
Additionally, the study “found hardly any difference in achievement” based on variables in homeschool teaching methods, including the degree of structure, the amount of time spent per day in learning activities or the use of a full-service curriculum.
As for the argument that more money is the solution to the problems plaguing the public schools, the study found that “families do not need the massive budget of a public school to provide their children with a quality education.”
According to figures taken from the National Education Association’s website in August, the national average amount spent on public school students was $9,963 each, not including capital expenditures or research and development. Meanwhile, the median amount spent on each homeschooled student was between $400 and $599 per year. That includes the cost of computers, used by 98.3 percent of homeschool students.
As for the make-up of the typical homeschool family, the study found that 97.9 percent of parents were married with 3.5 children, compared to the general population’s average of 2.0 children. Additionally, less than one in five homeschool mothers have jobs, and of those 85 percent work only part-time.
“Even with variables that are linked to higher or lower levels of student achievement in public schools – such as whether a parent is college educated – homeschoolers still score well above the norm,” concludes HSLDA. “As the evidence accumulates, it only serves to further establish homeschooling as a valid and truly effective educational option.”
Estimates of the number of students being homeschooled in the United States today range from 1.5 to 2 million.