The U.S. Department of Education has just released a study by the National Center for Education Statistics that updates the federal government’s estimates on the number of children in the country who are being home schooled and on why their parents choose to do so.
According to Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), “They concluded that 3.4%–or 1,770,000—of U.S. K-12 students were home schooled circa spring of 2012. The 95% confidence interval would be about 1.54 million to 2.00 million.” (pp. 17, 46) This number reflects a 17% increase in the number of home schoolers since the government’s last study, five years earlier, in 2007. Dr. Ray’s study in 2010 estimated that just over 2 million students were being home schooled in the U.S.
Several other interesting findings in this study were related to the reasons that parents choose to home school. In the list of reasons that parents could give (choosing more than one), the top four included: a concern about environment of other schools (91%); a desire to provide moral instruction (77%); a dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools (74%); and a desire to provide religious instruction (66%).
The top four reasons given as the most important reason parents chose to home school were: a concern about environment of other schools (25%); other reasons [family time, finances, travel, and distance] (21%); a dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools (16%); and a desire to provide religious instruction (16%).
Another interesting finding was that the highest rate of home schooling was among the 9th-12th grade group, at 3.7%, followed by 6th-8th grade at 3.5%, 3rd-5th grade at 3.4%, and K-2 at 3.1%. This finding seems to follow the concern about academics and environment at other schools and is a reversal of what we saw years ago when there were more home schoolers teaching the younger grades.
The bottom line is that parents continue to vote with their feet on the condition of many schools. Home schooling continues to be an amazing and affordable choice for millions of families because it affords parents the freedom to make academic decisions for their children.