Research on Homeschoolers

I came across an article from the Fall 2004 issue of the Journal of College Admission which summarizes the research which has been done on homeschooled students for college admissions officers. It was Written by Dr. Brian D. Ray, the president of the National Home Education Research Institute. It is written from an obviously pro-homeschool point of view, but Dr. Ray has the research to back up his very positive view of homeschooling. Some of my favorite points:

  • In study after study, the homeschooled scored, on average, at the 65th to 80th percentile on standardized academic achievement tests in the United States and Canada, compared to the public school average of the 50th percentile.
  • Researchers, wondering if only certain families-in which the parents have a high educational attainment or family income-are able to homeschool such that their children score high on achievement tests, show that children in homeschool families with low income and in which the parents have little education are scoring, on average, above state-school averages.
  • In addition, research shows that the parents’ teacher-certification has little to no relationship with their children’s academic achievement, and that the degree of state control of homeschooling (i.e., regulations) has no relationship with academic achievement.
  • Shyers (1992) found the only significant childhood social-interaction difference between the institutionally-schooled and homeschoolers was that the institutionally-schooled had higher problem behavior scores.
  • Susannah Sheffer (1995) reports a homeschool girl who told her:”I think some people would have seen [school] as my opportunity to ‘be like everybody else.’ But I didn’t want to be like everybody else.” Sheffer concluded, “Throughout this book the homeschooled girls I’ve interviewed have echoed these statements. They have talked about trusting themselves, pursuing their own goals, maintaining friendships even when their friends differ from them or disagree with them.” Finally, these home-educated girls maintain their self-confidence as they pass into womanhood.
  • Both the SAT and ACT publishers have reported for several years that the scores of the homeschooled are higher, on average, than those from public schools.
  • Galloway and Sutton (1997) used academic, cognitive, spiritual, affective-social, and psychomotor criteria for measuring success at a private university. Among other things, they found that homeschooled students held significantly more positions of appointed and spiritual leadership, and had more semesters of leadership service than did those from private schools, and were statistically similar to the public school graduates.
  • . Gary Knowles (Knowles & de Olivares, 1991; Knowles & Much more, 1995) was the first to focus research on adults who were home-educated, collecting extensive data from a group who were home-educated an average of about six years before they were 17 years old. He found that they tended to be involved in entrepreneurial and professional occupations, were fiercely independent, and strongly emphasized the importance of family. Furthermore, they were glad they had been home-educated, would recommend homeschooling to others, and had no grossly negative perceptions of living in a pluralistic society.
  • Smith and Sikkink used data from the 1996 National Household Education Survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, which differentiates between students educated in public, Catholic, non-Catholic church-related, and nonreligious private schools, and homeschool students. The researchers concluded:
    “Far from being privatized and isolated, home schooling families are typically very well networked and quite civically active. The empirical evidence is clear and decisive: private schoolers and home schoolers are considerably more civically involved in the public square than are public schoolers, even when the effects of differences in education, income, and other related factors are removed from the equation. Indeed, we have reason to believe that the organizations and practices involved in private and home schooling, in themselves, tend to foster public participation in civic affairs… the challenges, responsibilities, and practices that private schooling and home education normally entail for their participants may actually help reinvigorate America’s civic culture and the participation of her citizens in the public square.”

There’s more, but like I said, these were some highlights. I think that pretty well covers all the major objections to homeschooling we run into. Not that facts ever did anything to change a determined ideologues’s mind. Of course, as the author points out, “This is not to say, of course, that every homeschool graduate is brilliant, attractive, and destined for success. It simply means that, on average, they appear to be doing well in the “real world” because the environment in which they were educated-in the broad sense, academically, mentally, morally, and aesthetically-gave them sound academic skills, a solid and confident social and emotional nurturance, respect for others, a stable worldview, and a zest for learning.”

Probably my favorite quotes came from some Ivy League school administrators:

  • Dartmouth College admission officer: “The applications [from homeschoolers] I’ve come across are outstanding. Homeschoolers have a distinct advantage because of the individualized instruction they have received.”
  • Admission officers at Stanford University think they are seeing an unusually high occurrence of a key ingredient, which they term “intellectual vitality,” in homeschool graduates (Foster, 2000). They link it to the practice of self-teaching prevalent in these young people, as a result of their homeschool environment.
  • “These kids are the epitome of Brown students,” says Joyce Reed, who became an associate dean of the college twelve years ago. “They’ve learned to be self-directed, they take risks, they face challenges with total fervor, and they don’t back off” (Sutton, 2002).

If you know someone who is thinking about homeschooling or is just starting off and is worried about if they’re doing the best thing for their kids, send this along. It should probably be read by those who know homeschoolers, but aren’t real sure if it’s such a great idea (hi, Mom!). So, there’s my encouraging post for the day!

3 thoughts on “Research on Homeschoolers

  1. Rebecca!
    I need a copy of this study! Can you post a link?
    Yes it’s me and yes I should be packing!

  2. So sorry, I forgot to include the link! You can find it at the beginning of the post now!

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