NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 6, 2009

The ranks of America's home-schooled children have continued a steady climb over the past five years, and new survey data suggest broader reasons for the appeal.  According to the Department of Education:

  • The number of home-schooled kids hit 1.5 million in 2007, up 74 percent from 1999, and up 36 percent since 2003.
  • The percentage of the school-age population that was home-schooled increased from 2.2 percent in 2003 to 2.9 percent in 2007.

The 2003 survey gave parents six reasons to pick as their motivation. (They could choose more than one.)  The 2007 survey added a seventh: an interest in a "non-traditional approach," a reference to parents dubbed "unschoolers," who regard standard curriculum methods and standardized testing as counterproductive to a quality education.  Traditionally, the biggest motivations for parents to teach their children at home have been moral or religious reasons, and that remains a top pick when parents are asked to explain their choice.  However:

  • The category of "other reasons" rose to 32 percent in 2007 from 20 percent in 2003 and included family time and finances.
  • That suggests the demographics are expanding beyond conservative Christian groups, says Robert Kunzman, an associate professor at Indiana University's School of Education.
  • Anecdotal evidence indicates many parents want their kids to learn at their own pace, he says.

Source: Janice Loyd, "Number of Home-Schooled Children on the Rise," USA Today, January 5, 2009.

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