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  The Herman Trend Alert

January 11, 2000

Whither Education? Part 3: Home Schooling on the Rise

355 days until January 1, 2001

An increasingly popular alternative to traditional public education is home schooling, or home education. Children are taught at home, by their parents, using curricula approved by their local school district. Hours and techniques of teaching are established by the family, designed to mesh comfortably with other family activities. Home educators are flexible in curriculum design, as well, tailoring learning to the needs of their children.

Home schooling (K-12) is growing at a rate of 7% - 15% per year. During 1999-2000, it is estimated that 1,300,000 to1,700,000 children are being home educated in the United States. To put that number in perspective, the Home Schooling Legal Defense Fund Association estimates that 1.23 million students were home schooled in America in 1996. That number exceeds the total public school enrollment for the state of New Jersey, which has the tenth largest student population in the nation. This comparison means that collectively American home-schooled children outnumber individual statewide public school enrollments in 41 states. This statistic is significant: home schooling is a strong movement, with communities of closely linked parent-teachers throughout the country.

Motivations to home school include the desire to teach children specific philosophical or religious values, controlling social interactions, developing close families, and interest in high level academics. Disenchantment with public school performance may be a significant contributing factor as parents become more concerned with how well their children are being prepared for college and work.

Results are quite positive. Home-educated students score at or above the 80th percentile in all areas of standardized achievement tests. The national public school average is in the 50th percentile. Specifically, according to Dr. Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute, reading scores on the standardized tests are 50 in public schools and 87 for home-schooled students. Language and Math, at 50 each for public schools, are 80 and 82, respectively, for home-schooled students. Research comparing home-educated to public school learning disabled students found higher rates of academic engaged time and greater academic gains. SAT scores are higher, too.

Watch for this segment of our educational system to continue to grow.


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