(summary of study, August 10, 2009)

The purpose of this new nationwide cross-sectional, descriptive study is to examine the educational history, demographic features, and academic achievement of home-educated students and the basic demographics of their families, and to assess the relationships between the homeschool students’ academic achievement and selected student and family variables.

Dr. Brian D. Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI, www.nheri.org), conducted the study. Data were collected in spring 2008 on the 11,729 participants in grades K to 12 from all 50 states, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

Summary of Major Findings in This Study

Demographics of the Families and Students

  • The median income for home-educating families ($75,000 to $79,999) was similar to all married-couple families nationwide with one or more related children under age 18 (median income $74,049 in 2006 dollars; or roughly 78,490 in 2008 dollars).

  • Homeschool parents have more formal education than parents in the general population; 66.3% of the fathers and 62.5% of the mothers had a college degree (i.e., bachelor’s degree) or a higher educational attainment. In 2007, 29.5% of all adult males nationwide ages 25 and over had finished college and 28.0% of females had done so.

  • These homeschool families are notably larger – 68.1% have three or more children – than families nationwide.

  • The percent of homeschool students in this study who are White/not-Hispanic (91.7%) is disproportionately high compared to public school students nationwide.

  • Almost all homeschool students (97.9%) are in married couple families. Most home school mothers (81%) do not participate in the labor force; almost all home school fathers (97.6%) do work for pay.

  • The median amount of money spent annually on educational materials is about $400 to $599 per home-educated student.

Academic Achievement of Home-Educated Students in Grades K-12

  • Homeschool student achievement test scores are exceptionally high. The mean scores for every subtest (which are at least the 80th percentile) are well above those of public school students.

  • There are no statistically significant differences in achievement by whether the student has been home educated all his or her academic life, whether the student is enrolled in a full-service curriculum, whether the parents knew their student’s test scores before participating in the study, and the degree of state regulation of homeschooling (in three different analyses on the subject).

  • There are statistically significant differences in achievement among homeschool students when classified by gender, amount of money spent on education, family income, whether either parent had ever been a certified teacher (i.e., students of non-certified parents did better), number of children living at home, degree of structure in the homeschooling, amount of time student spends in structured learning, and age at which formal instruction of the student began. However, of these variables, only parent education level explained a noticeable or practically significant amount of variance, 2.5%, in student scores; the other variables explained one-half of 1% or less of the variance.

The full-length report is expected to be published circa December 2010.

For more information, contact NHERI at mail@nheri.org, 503-364-1490.

Key words, keywords, descriptors, key terms: homeschool, homeschooling, home school, home schooling, home education, home-based education, research, statistics, facts, academic achievement, SES, socioeconomic policy, parental involvement, private schooling

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