African American Homeschool Parents’ Motivations for Homeschooling and Their Black Children’s Academic Achievement

Article by Brian D. Ray, Ph.D., March 11, 2015

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African American homeschool parents’ motivations for homeschooling and their Black children’s academic achievement.
Brian D. Ray
Journal of School Choice, 9:71–96.

“Abstract: This study explores the motivations of African American parents for choosing homeschooling for their children and the academic achievement of their Black homeschool students. Their reasons for homeschooling are similar to those of homeschool parents in general, although some use homeschooling to help their children understand Black culture and history. The average reading, language, and math test scores of these Black homeschool students are significantly higher than those of Black public school students (with effect sizes of .60 to 1.13) and equal to or higher than all public school students as a group in this exploratory, cross-sectional, and explanatory nonexperimental study” (p. 71).)

Keywords: homeschooling, African American, Black students, motivation, academic achievement, school choice, parents as teachers, parent involvement, educational policy, peer-reviewed journal.

Some Main Aspects of the Study

This is a nationwide study of Black families and the children in them who have been homeschooled more than half of their school-age lives. The parents completed surveys about their motivations for homeschooling and the students took standardized academic achievement tests. Their scores were then compared to those of Black students in public schools.

The Black homeschool children’s high achievement test scores were very remarkable. Parents without teaching certificates helping their children from a traditionally low-achieving minority group excel this way should cause all educators and social advocacy groups to take special note.

These Black homeschool students’ achievement test scores were quite high, all things considered. They scored at or above the 50th percentile in reading (68th), language (56th), math (50th), and core (i.e., a combination of reading, language, and math; 58th) subtests. By definition, the 50th percentile is the mean for all students (or all ethnicities/races) nationwide in institutional public schools.

Comparing Black homeschool students to Black public school students yields notable findings. While controlling for gender of student and family socioeconomic status, being homeschooled had an effect size of about 42 percentile points higher in reading (an effect size or change in z-score of 1.13) than if public schooled. For language scores, being homeschooled had an effect size of about 26 percentile points higher than if public schooled (i.e., a change in z-score of .65). and for math, being homeschooled had an effect size of about 23 percentile points higher than if public schooled (z-score of .60).

The parents’ five most-often stated reasons for homeschooling were the following:

1. “prefer to teach the child at home so that you can provide religious or moral instruction” (selected as one of the “three main reasons” by 46.9% of parents),

2. “accomplish more academically than in conventional schools” (38.3%),

3. “for the parents to transmit values, beliefs, and worldview to the child” (34.6%),

4. “to customize or individualize the education of each child” (28.4%), and

5. “want to provide religious or moral instruction different from that taught in public schools” (27.2%).

Data were analyzed from Black public school students and Black homeschool students and their families. The standardized academic achievement test used was the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS).

This is a descriptive and cross-sectional explanatory study. It is not experimental and does not necessarily settle cause-and-effect questions regarding homeschooling compared to public schooling. People should be cautious making generalizations from this study. There is much more research to be done on ethnic/racial minorities and their practice of home-based education.