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Home-schooled students have out-performed publicly and privately
educated students in the ACT assessment test — formerly known as the
American College Testing Program — according to official ACT reports.
While the average composite score of American high school students taking the ACT test was 21, home-schooled teens scored 22.8 on the scale of 36.
Advocates for home school programs say the test results prove the alternative education system works. But ACT officials caution against using such statistics, which were released last week, to “condemn” public schools or “contrast public education” to home schools.
“What you can say about the home schoolers from that average composite score is that this group of home-schooled kids are well-prepared, or reasonably well-prepared, for college,” Kelley Hayden, a spokesman for ACT, told WorldNetDaily.
“However, you cannot use their average score to say then that obviously home schooling is better than public schooling, because this is a very small, self-selected group,” he added.
Of the 1,065,138 high school seniors who took the ACT during the 1999-00 school year, 4,593 were home-schooled.
Hayden explained his belief that, if broken down by demographics, the home-schooled teens would have a smaller proportion of minorities and could have a disproportionate male to female ratio. Other socio-economic factors would be disparate as well, he said, including family income, which may likely be higher than average.
“It’s not right to compare any small groups with a very large group no matter what we’re talking here,” said Hayden.
The scores were released Aug. 17 and are based on a scale of 1 to 36. The three-and-a-half-hour test consists of 215 multiple-choice questions on four subjects, including English, reading, mathematics and science reasoning.
The ACT is not an aptitude or IQ test. Rather, it consists of questions directly related to high school curriculum.
In the U.S., the ACT is administered on five national test dates — in October, December, February, April and June. In selected states, the ACT is also offered in late September. Test results are accepted by virtually all U.S. colleges and universities for application and placement purposes.
Research shows that high achievement on the ACT strongly indicates a “greater likelihood of success in college,” according to ACT officials. Success on the ACT test also reveals that the courses taken by high school students to prepare for college have been effective.
Despite the relatively small number of home-schooled students taking the exam, their number increased by 43 percent from last year — over 4,500 in 2000 compared to 3,200 in 1999.
“Although approx. 4,500 home schoolers took the test this time, you would expect that that score would go down, but to the contrary, it didn’t,” said J. Michael Smith, vice president of the
Legal Defense Association. “I think that’s significant.”
The dramatic increase in home-schooled students taking the exam would have reasonably lowered the average score, he explained. But instead, it remained very near 23.
Home-schooled students scored 22.8 in 1998 and 22.7 in 1999. This marks the fourth straight year public- and private-schooled students have scored 21 on the assessment.
“Parents are doing a great job of educating their own children,” said Smith. “This explains why many highly selective colleges are recruiting their complement of home schoolers. This year has been a banner year for home school achievement.”
Smith told WND home-schooled students’ scores on other standardized tests have been called into question by critics who claim differences in test administration lead to dramatically different scores. Home-schooled students have been known to decidedly out-perform public school students on standardized tests.
But the ACT may only be taken in pre-determined environments, such as high schools or community colleges, by third-party proctors. The test may not be administered in a home school.
“This should confirm to any person whose contemplating home school and concerned about their child entering college that they really shouldn’t be concerned,” Smith added, saying some parents fear their children will not receive a quality education from an “unqualified” parent.
One of the most common ways to ensure a quality education in subjects such as higher math and science, he said, is for several home-schooling families to come together and hire a qualified professional who then instructs 10-15 students at a time in a specific subject.
home schoolers made headlines when they placed first, second and third in the 2000 Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee. The first place winner in the spelling bee, George Thampy of St. Louis, also finished second in the 2000 National Geography Bee sponsored by the National Geographic Society held the week before. Both competitions were held in Washington, D.C.