Home schooling goes mainstream

Last week, New American reported on a recent study by the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) that shows there are now over two million children being home-schooled in the United States. Michael Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association, points out that thirty years ago, there were only about 20,000.

Since there are 54 million school-age children in the U.S., this means nearly four percent of kids are being taught at home. Parents choose home schooling today for many reasons —  concern about the public school environment, the cost of private schools, safety issues, religious reasons, and special needs of 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.

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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.

One interesting finding of the study is that the economic level of parents doesn’t create much of a gap in student test scores. Additionally, college students who’ve been home-schooled do better than conventional students. They earn a higher first-year GPA and graduate at higher rates.

The article also pointed out that on January 3, the first home-schooled member of Congress was sworn in — Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA).


  • Zoe Romanowsky

    Zoe Romanowsky is writer, consultant, and coach. Her articles have appeared in “Catholic Digest,” “Faith & Family,” “National Catholic Register,” “Our Sunday Visitor,” “Urbanite,” “Baltimore Eats,” and Godspy.com. Zo

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