Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Breaking news: Homeschooling keeps growing

The NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) recently did a survey of students. Based on the suvey they estimate that in 2007 there were about 1.5 million children being homeschooled. This translates to about 2.9% of all students in K to 12 being homeschooled. This is a dramatic increase from the 1.1 million estimate in 2003, and a 0.85 million estimate in 1999. A growth of 36% over the last four years means homeschooling is an option that more and more parents are turning to.

The brief on the survey is a four page PDF file. I had trouble downloading it yesterday, but it seems to work just fine now.

I am cautious to put a lot of faith in exact number. As I wrote about the 2003 survey, the sample of homeschoolers was very, very small. For the 2007 survey they had only 290 homeschooled students. The confidence level is low when the sample size, 290, is small compared to the total population, which might be 1.5 million. If some homeschooling parents were distrustful of the intent of the survey, and didn't respond, it could greatly throw off the results.

But I do believe that the fundamental conclusion of the survey is correct, that homeschooling is growing, I'm just not sure how many children are being homeschooled in the US.

(Hat tip: Homeschooling Research Notes)


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Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education

3 comments:

Mrs. C said...

I'm thinking it's as high as 5 or 6 percent here but then again, many parents homeschool for a year or two, send kids back, homeschool for another year, etc.

I also think the number is way lower in other places. It would be interesting to see WHY (relaxed laws or good/bad schools factor) it is way up in some places and not others. :]

Eric Holcombe said...

Take a look at the survey they used:

http://nces.ed.gov/nhes/pdf/pfi/07_pfi.pdf

They sure didn't summarize much out of the 82-page survey.

I don't know how they "adjust" for non-response levels. I.e., if it is believed many homeschoolers would not respond to the nosy survey (I wouldn't), how do they assign the theoretical non-responders to a particular group in any of their information categories?

Also, take a look around page 27 of the survey and again around page 60. There is a lot of info they gathered regarding parent education levels, use of books/library, socialization, hours of TV watched vs. books read, etc. that are often used as arguments against homeschooling. Wonder if most people bailed out of the survey after the first 15 minutes in the middle of their dinner (so the data just isn't there), or if the Dept. of Ed. just doesn't want to share?

I'm kinda interested in knowing about the 97% of their respondents that don't homeschool - how much TV they watch vs. read books and whether it is important to them to prepare their child for kindergarten by teaching them numbers/ABC's.

Henry Cate said...

Mrs. C - I wonder why so many parents will homeschool for a year or two and then send their children back to the government schools? It is such an effort to get started homeschooling, pulling your children out of school and setting up new patterns. It seems like too much work to sets things back up for public schools.

Eric - Thank you for the survey. You are right, there is a ton of information there. Maybe they'll release it later. (Or it might already be available some where.)