NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Nationwide Study: High Marks For Homeschoolers

June 9, 1997

The number of children being home schooled in the United States today exceeds the combined public school enrollment of 41 of the states, and totals an estimated 1.23 million. Thus the number of home school students nationwide is about equal to public school enrollment in Georgia or New Jersey, ranked 9th and 10th in size, respectively.

In what is reportedly the largest, most comprehensive study on home schooling, researchers surveyed 5,402 home school students from 1,657 families for the 1994-95 and 1995-96 academic years. Among their findings:

  • Home educated students, on average, outperformed public school students across all subjects by 30 to 37 percentile points on nationally normed standardized achievement exams.
  • Homeschoolers\' test scores tend to increase the longer they are home schooled, going from the 59th percentile for those home schooled for one year to the 92nd percentile for those home schooled for seven years.
  • Test scores of students whose parents had ever held a teaching certificate were only 3 percentile points higher than those whose parents hadn't -- in the 88th percentile versus the 85th percentile.
  • And whether their mothers held a college degree or did not complete high school, the children's scores remained between the 80th and 90th percentile.

By comparison, a parent's level of education does affect children's performance in public schools. For instance, in 8th grade math, public school students whose parents are college graduates score at the 63rd percentile, whereas students whose parents have less than a high school diploma score at the 28th percentile.

Remarkably, students taught at home by mothers who never finished high school score a full 55 percentile points higher than public school students from families with comparable education levels.

Home schooling parents reported an average cost of $546 per year, not counting foregone wages; whereas the average per-pupil expenditure by public schools was $5,325, excluding capital costs.

Source: Brian Ray, "Strengths of Their Own -- Home Schoolers Across America: Academic Achievement, Family Characteristics, and Longitudinal Traits", National Home Education Research Institute, P.O. Box 13939, Salem, OR 97309, (503) 364-1490.


Browse more articles on Education Issues