By Brian D. Ray, Ph.D.
July 10, 2006
Copyright © by Brian D. Ray
|Exploring Homeschooling recommends that Christian families interested in homeschooling familiarize themselves with the research of Dr. Brian Ray, especially his comprehensive book about adults who were homeschooled: Home Educated and Now Adults
General Facts and Trends
- Homeschooling may be the fastest-growing form of education in the United States (at 7% to 12% per year). Home-based education is also growing around the world in many nations.
- There are about 2 million homeschool students in the United States. There were an estimated 1.9 to 2.4 million children (in grades K to 12) home educated during 2005-2006 in the United States.
- Families engaged in home-based education are not dependent on public, tax-funded resources for their children's education. The finances associated with their homeschooling likely represent over $16 billion that taxpayers do not have to spend since these children are not in public schools
- Homeschooling is quickly growing in popularity among minorities. About 15% of homeschool families are non-white/nonHispanic (i.e., not white/Anglo).
- A demographically wide variety of people homeschool – 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 no high-school diplomas.
Reasons for Home Educating
- Most parents and youth decide to homeschool for more than one reason.
- The most common reasons given for homeschooling are the following:
- teach a particular set of values, beliefs, and worldview,
- accomplish more academically than in schools,
- customize or individualize the curriculum and learning environment for each child,
- use pedagogical approaches other than those typical in institutional schools,
- enhance family relationships between children and parents and among siblings,
- provide guided and reasoned social interactions with youthful peers and adults, and
- provide a safer environment for children and youth, because of physical violence, drugs and alcohol, psychological abuse, and improper and unhealthy sexuality.
- The home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests.
- Homeschool students score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents' level of formal education or their family's household income.
- Whether homeschool parents were ever certified teachers is not related to their children's academic achievement.
- Degree of state control and regulation of homeschooling is not related to academic achievement.
- Home-educated students typically score above average on the SAT and ACT tests that colleges consider for admissions.
- Homeschool students are increasingly being actively recruited by colleges.
Social, Emotional, and Psychological Development
- The home-educated are doing well, typically above average, on measures of social, emotional, and psychological development. Research measures include peer interaction, self-concept, leadership skills, family cohesion, participation in community service, and self-esteem.
- Homeschool students are regularly engaged in social and educational activities outside their homes and with people other than their nuclear-family members. They are commonly involved in activities such as field trips, scouting, 4-H, political drives, church ministry, sports teams, and community volunteer work.
Success in the "Real World" of Adulthood
The research base on adults who were home educated is growing; thus far it indicates that they:
- participate in local community service more frequently than does the general population,
- vote and attend public meetings more frequently than the general population, and
- go to and succeed at college at an equal or higher rate than the general population.
General Interpretation of Research on Homeschool Success or Failure
It is possible that homeschooling causes the positive traits reported above. However, the research designs to date do not conclusively "prove" that homeschooling causes these things. At the same time, there is no evidence that homeschooling causes negative things compared to institutional schooling. Future research may better answer the question of causation.
The above findings are extensively documented in one or more of the following sources, all (except one) of which are available from www.nheri.org:
- A Homeschool Research Story, Brian. D. Ray, 2005, in Homeschooling in Full View: A Reader.
- Home Educated and Now Adults: Their Community and Civic Involvement, Views About Homeschooling, and Other Traits, Brian D. Ray, 2004.
- Home schooling: The Ameliorator of Negative Influences on Learning, Brian D. Ray, Peabody Journal of Education, 2000, v. 75 no. 1 & 2, pp. 71-106.
- Homeschoolers on to College: What Research Shows Us, by Brian D. Ray, Journal of College Admission, 2004, No. 185, 5-11.
- National Education Association. (2005). Rankings and estimates: A Report of School Statistics Update. Retrieved 7/10/06 online http://www.nea.org/edstats/images/05rankings-update.pdf.
- Worldwide Guide to Homeschooling, Brian D. Ray, 2005.
About the Author
Brian D. Ray, Ph.D. is an internationally known researcher, educator, speaker, and expert witness, and serves as president of the nonprofit National Home Education Research Institute. He has taught as a certified teacher in public and private schools and served as a professor at the graduate and undergraduate levels. His Ph.D. is in science education from Oregon State University. Dr. Ray has been studying the homeschool movement for about 22 years.
For more homeschool research and more in-depth interpretation of research, please contact:
National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI)
PO Box 13939
Salem, OR 97309
Copyright © 2006 by Brian D. Ray