Homeschooling often gets an undeserved bad rap, largely through a whole host of myths and stereotypes about the practice that aren’t really founded in reality. The truth is that homeschooled children get an education that’s just as high in quality as their public and private schooled peers, sometimes even more so, and enjoy a whole host of outside extracurricular activities. Many, if not most, go on to success in college and in their careers. There’s plenty of research to back those statements up, too, as studies over the past few decades have proven that homeschooling can actually have some pretty great benefits for students. Here, we highlight some of the most striking findings from those studies, showcasing some stats that will help dispel any lingering myths about the socialization and effectiveness aspects of homeschooling.
- A study on homeschooled students showed that they scored about 30 percentile points higher than the national average on standardized tests.
Homeschooled students seem to have an edge when it comes to taking standardized tests. Dr. Brian Ray studied results from 15 independent testing centers and compiled them in a larger report in 2009. The results were striking. Homeschooled students in multiple states showed significantly higher scores than their public school peers, doing the best in reading (89 vs. 50) and science (86 vs. 50), a difference of almost 40 percentile points.
More money spent on home education doesn’t correlate with better outcomes
While many public figures believe the solution to poor results in public education is to throw more money at schools, homeschools may just prove that that isn’t necessary (or wise). Dr. Ray’s study also showed that household income had little impact on the test results of homeschooled children, with only a 4% difference between the highest and lowest income groups. What’s more, when parental spending on education was analyzed, families spending less money actually had slightly better scores than those spending more (an average of 89th percentile in families spending $600 or less versus an average of 86th percentile for families spending more than $600 a year).
Most homeschooled students are socially well-adjusted
One of the biggest concerns many have about homeschooled children is that they are missing out on interacting with other children and fully developing social skills. While there are undoubtedly some children to which this applies, generally speaking, studies have shown quite the opposite. In a study by John Wesley Taylor that set out to measure levels of “self-concept,” a key factor in determining self-esteem, it was found that 50% of homeschooled children scored above the 90th percentile. Only 10.3% of homeschooled children scored below the national average. In another study, when homeschooled children were compared with private school children, no significant differences were found in psycho-social development.
Racial and socio-economic differences are far less impactful in homeschooled children
One of the biggest issues with public schools in America is a huge gap in achievement between minority and economically disadvantaged students and their peers. Because students in a homeschool environment get such focused attention and numerous opportunities to learn outside of the classroom, these differences disappear. In a study of more than 20,000 homeschooled students, Dr. Lawrence Rudner found that the race of the student made little difference in achievement. In math, white homeschooled students scored in the 82nd percentile while minority students scored in the 77th percentile (though overall both groups were equal in their achievement at the 87th percentile). In public schools, this gap is much larger, with white students scoring in the 58th percentile in math and minority students in the 24th percentile. Similarly, studies found almost no difference between the scores of wealthy and poor families who were homeschooling children.
Homeschoolers tend to score above the national average on both the SAT and ACT scores
Being homeschooled could be an advantage when it comes to getting great scores on college entrance exams as well. Statistics from ACT show that homeschooled students get an average of 22.8 on the ACT versus a 21 for the average American student. When it comes to the SAT, homeschoolers score an average of 72 points higher than their peers. It is important to note, however, that critics point out that the numbers may be skewed due to a number of demographic factors, which could be pushing homeschool scores higher than that of public or private schooled students.
Homeschooled students generally fare very well in college
Those higher college entrance exam scores might just be paying off for homeschooled students who choose to go on to college. Research by Michael Cogan at the University of St. Thomas found that homeschooled students earned a better GPA on average throughout their college careers and that homeschooled students were more likely to graduate than their peers (66.7% versus 57.5%) And homeschoolers might have another advantage. The same study found that homeschool students often enter college with more credit than their peers, having 8.7 more credit hours before their freshman year than traditional students. Some colleges, like Boston University and Dartmouth, actively recruit homeschooled students.
Homeschooled children are, on average, almost one grade level ahead of their peers
While grade levels mean less in a homeschool environment than they do in public and private schools, students who are homeschooled often outperform their peers. One study found that on the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills, 92% of homeschool students were above grade level in math and 93% were at or above level in reading. In a 1986 study by Lauri Scogin, it was found that 72% of homeschooled children scored a year above their grade level in reading, with almost 50% scoring a year above or more in math. Other state-specific studies, like one done in Arizona, also found similar results.
More homeschooled children participate in community activities
Homeschool children aren’t stuck at home, like many stereotypes would have you believe. Research has found that homeschooled children are actually much more likely to participate in community service than their traditionally schooled peers. They’re also much more likely to keep up this involvement as they age, with 71% of homeschool graduates participating in an ongoing community service activity, compared with just 37% of similarly selected adults from traditional educational backgrounds. Homeschooled adults are also more likely to vote, at a rate of 76% versus 29% of the corresponding U.S. population.
Structure and education play a big role in homeschool outcomes
Not all homeschool experiences are created equal. Studies have shown that students coming from homeschools where one or both parents have a college degree scored significantly better on standardized tests than those who were being educated by parents without college degrees. Education wasn’t the only factor needed for success, however. One Canadian study found that students who were homeschooled in a structured way had much better educational outcomes across the board when compared to public school students. Those in unstructured environments, sometimes called “unschooling,” underperformed their public school peers. While this study had an extremely small sample size and may not be applicable across the board, it’s important to note that not all homeschool experiences can be lumped together in terms of methods and long-term success.
While these studies certainly show homeschooling in a positive light, it’s important to note that they aren’t meant to demonstrate that homeschooling is a superior educational method or that public and private schools aren’t offering students a high-quality education. What they do show, however, is that homeschool students do quite well in their given educational environments, and that many stereotypes and misconceptions about homeschooling are baseless.