Home education vs. public schooling – some numbers and thoughts

It is extremely difficult to compare home school students vs. public school students; at least accurately.  This is because, of course, they are not simply piles of veggies on a table.  And as we all know – say it with me Michelle – correlation does not prove causation.

However at the same time, there is clearly no empirical evidence that homeschooling produces negative results compared to standard institutional schooling.  Homeschooling is an extension of parenting, and if the parenting is good the homeschooling will be – good parents would not choose to home school, or continue homeschooling if it was not a good choice for their child(ren) and family.  If parenting is bad, the homeschooling may very well be bad, but it is not the homeschooling choice at fault it is the parenting and the parenting would still be a risk to the child even in public school.

If a homeschooled child reads better than a public schooled child of the same age, is it really homeschooling?  Or is the fact that THAT child had a parent that valued education and chose to home educate thus put forth the effort; while the random child in public school might just be the one from a home with no book and TV on 24 hours a day where mom and dad don’t see the value of reading?  So then the homeschooled child would realistically be ahead of THAT public school student even sitting next to each other in the same classroom.  Children that are blessed with parents that value education, and are willing to go the extra distance, are going to do better.  That is the subcategory of children that homeschooled children come from.  It certainly doesn’t mean all parents that use the public schools don’t care and all homeschooling parents do care.  Nevertheless it stands to reason that the homeschooling parents on average do have to put forth more thought and effort; also the public school population – no matter how great some parents are—by default contains the children’s that suffer without supportive parents.

Homeschooling as a trend, as a choice, is defiantly gaining acceptance and normalcy.  This makes me very happy.  Parents need to take responsibility for their children, children God has given to them, and the State needs to remember it is not the parent and the school needs a strong and constant reminder that they are employed by and function at the pleasure of, the parents.  Too many in the school would like to take over the parent’s role and too many lazy parents are willing to accept that.  Success of homeschooling is self-evident.  (Below I will cover some test numbers that clearly show there is no negative effect on a child’s education based on standard measures)

Homeschooling is growing at a steady pace and the academic numbers show clearly that these students are being successful.  There are about 2 million home-educated students in the United States. There were an estimated 1.9 to 2.5 million children (in grades K to 12) home educated during 2008-2009 in the United States. It appears the home school population is continuing to grow (at an estimated 5% to 12% per annum over the past few years).  In the long term, this has to be a positive thing for the nation as a whole.  This nation was founded by men and women educated at home, well educated individuals (see).  This nation is in trouble and will be saved by courageous men and women of faith standing on a resilient education; one they received at home.

A better educated population is always a good thing.  Homeschooling is not an all Christian all white phenomena.  Beyond that, it is not all a fad of college educated parents either.  Homeschooling is quickly growing in popularity among minorities. About 15% of home school families are non-white/nonHispanic (i.e., not white/Anglo).  A demographically wide variety of people home school – these are atheists, Christians, and Mormons; conservatives, libertarians, and liberals; low-, middle-, and high-income families; black, Hispanic, and white; parents with Ph.D.s, GEDs, and parents lacking a high-school diplomas.

Homeschooling has as much to do with parenting as it does education; with the attitude toward children and the value placed on skill and knowledge and achievement.  When you look at public school vs. home school test scores and tangible data the story is not as black and white as it would seem.  Again we all know correlation does not prove causation.  The important things about the data is that is does show that homeschooling children are not at a disadvantage in any way with regard to evidence based measure of achievement.  Secondly there is no positive correlation between money spent on education and student performance. Public school advocates could refocus their emphasis if they learned this lesson, more money is not going to make better schools it is a question of people not check books.  Loving and caring parents are what matters. Money can never replace simple, hard work, time and effort.

2009 ACT High School Profile Report
Check out this National Data! For the graduating class of 2009, 11,535 students who list themselves as homeschooled took the test, and their average composite score was 22.5. [1,480,469 students took the test in all, averaging 21.1.] [0.78% homeschoolers].

I again caution you that the designation that someone is home-schooled is self-reported, and that we have no way of knowing how long they have been home-schooled. There may be many students who home-school until they get to high school, and these would not be included. Similarly, students who list themselves as home-schooled may have been so for only a year, and these would be included.

Emailed to me from
Jim Sconing
ACT Statistical Research Department
(319) 337-1709


One respected researcher of homeschooling data is Brian D. Ray, Ph.D. He is an internationally known researcher, speaker, and expert witness, and serves as president of the nonprofit National Home Education Research Institute. He has taught as a certified teacher and as a professor of education at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Dr. Ray has been researching the home school movement for almost 25 years.

Some of his findings are very enlightening: The home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. (The public school average is the 50th percentile; thus the bell curve).  More importantly:  home school students score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents’ level of formal education or their family’s household income.

In 1997, a study was released. Entitled, “Strengths of Their Own: Home Schoolers Across America.” The study demonstrated that homeschoolers, on the average, out-performed their counterparts in the public schools by 30 to 37 percentile points in all subjects. The more encouraging finding though, when analyzing the data for 8th graders, homeschoolers who are homeschooled two or more years score substantially higher than students who have been homeschooled one year or less.  So, basically, the positive benefits of home schooling increase over time.  Isn’t that an awesome thing?  What encouragement to a first or second year home educating parent, the effort pays off more and more over time.  The new homeschoolers were scoring on the average in the 59th percentile compared to students homeschooled the last two or more years who scored between 86th and 92nd percentile.  Further, and this is very important, there was no significant difference between minority and white homeschooled students; a statement that simply can not be made about performance in the public schools.

These findings show that when parents, regardless of race, commit themselves to make the necessary sacrifices and tutor their children at home, almost all obstacles present in other school systems disappear.

Again, it comes back to the parenting; the parenting and the choice to actively parent and thus educate.

Here is an excerpt from a recent study of homeschoolers: “According to a report published by the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) and funded by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, home school student achievement test scores were exceptionally high. The median scores for every subtest at every grade were well above those of public and Catholic/private-school students. On average, home school students in grades one to four performed one grade level above their age-level public/private school peers on achievement tests. Students who had been homeschooled their entire academic life had higher scholastic achievement test scores than students who had also attended other educational programs.”

“Even with a conservative analysis of the data, the achievement levels of the home school students in the study were exceptional. Within each grade level and each skill area, the median scores for home school students fell between the 70th and 80th percentile of students nationwide and between the 60th and 70th percentile of Catholic/Private school students. For younger students, this is a one year lead. By the time home school students are in 8th grade, they are four years ahead of their public/private school counterparts.”

The list goes on, stats by individual states, year after year comparisons of the ACT / SAT scores, the numbers continually bear out that the effort to parent by home education pays off in the long run.  See http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200410250.asp For a more exhaustive list.

At the end of the day, we can all rest confident that home schooling is academically successful.

For more information and more detailed sites please see:



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4 responses to “Home education vs. public schooling – some numbers and thoughts

  1. carolyn bledsoe

    As a former opponent of home-schooling, now I can say that I’m very impressed with those parents who choose to home-school.. and I’m impressed with the scores the students achieve. I wonder how they’ll do when they take the tests that are required to get into college? Not a criticism, just a question. I would think they’ll do better than their public schooled peers. Good for you Aimee, for my niece Stacy, and for all those parents who choose to home-school their kids – they will be better off for it!

    • ACT and SAT scores are averaging above the public school average. Many colleges have started to actively recruit home educated students. hummm maybe i should blog some of that information too …. :0)

      Homeschooling is not an easy out that promises children a good education, again i think it is the parents that choose to home school as much as the “home schooling”. There are definite befits to being out of the public school; i already see it in mine, but simply being out of the mess of the classroom and out of the reach of the PC liberal schools is not enough. Home education requires parents to step up and take responsibility a responsibility given to us by God, and one that too many are giving over to the schools / State and most importantly a right and responsibility the state’d love to usurp.

  2. Crystal

    I really believe students get higher scores when home schooled. It is a whole lot easier to meet a kids needs when they are one of 3 kids being taught something, vs. 1 of 30. We have only been home schooling a month now, but I can see how easy it would be to just go on without all students FULLY understanding something. I like having the freedom to spend lots of time on a subject (we spent 2 hours one day learning how to read a calendar- the actual lesson allowed for about 15 minutes only! she would have been lost with that if she were in public school) It is also really nice to just fly by the stuff she already knows or “gets” really quick- no need to spend lots of time on something already understood. I don’t know if I have the patience to home school all the way through, but I do think she would be better off if I was able to do it for a long time.

    • take it a year at a time. You never know — you have more patience then you think as the 3 age … frankly i see my friends with kids IN SCHOOL and I look at my friends homeschooling, even high school, and frankly neither is EASY — thus parenting. but i personally see more stress and conflict in homework fights at the end of a long day and worrying what is happening at school. Parenting isn’t easy any way you slice it — but if you can choose your fights — i’d rather not fight about homework after the poor kid has already been worn down by 8+ hours of ‘school” already.

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