A newly released study from the Home School Legal Defense Association shows that not only do homeschoolers incur expenses only 5 percent of what public schools spend on each student, they score nearly 40 points higher on standardized achievement tests.
“These results validate the dedication of thousands of homeschool parents who are giving their children the best education possible,” said Michael Smith, president of the advocacy organization.
The HSLDA said homeschooling in the United States already includes about 4 percent of the school-aged population and is growing at about 7 percent a year, now involving some two million children.
The report, “Progress Report 2009: Homeschool Academic Achievement and Demographics,” was conducted by Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute.
The survey included 11,739 homeschool students in all 50 states for the 2007-2009 academic year, and the HSLDA said the results were consistent with previous studies on homeschoolers’ achievements.
Drawing on the results from 15 independent testing services, the Progress Report 2009, the most comprehensive homeschool academic study ever completed, showed homeschoolers who participated in the California Achievement Test, Iowa Tests of Basic Skills and Stanford Achievement Test scored 37 percentile points above public school students on standardized tests.
The study also showed that achievement gaps common in public schools and linked to income levels and other factors mostly were absent or minimal in the homeschool community.
The study showed homeschooled boys scored at the 87th percentile and girls were at the 88th percentile. Students where the household income was under $35,000 scored at the 85th percentile and students in homes with a household income over $70,000 were at the 89th percentile.
There was only slightly more variance linked to parental education, too. Children whose parents did not have college degrees were at the 83rd percentile and children in homes where both parents held college degrees were at the 90th percentile.
“Because of the one-on-one instruction homeschoolers receive, we are prepared academically to be productive and contributing members of today’s society,” Smith said.
“Homeschooling is a rapidly growing, thriving education movement that is challenging the conventional wisdom about the best way to raise and educate the next generation,” said Smith.
Regarding costs, the average public school spends nearly $10,000 per child per year, but the Progress Report said the average homeschool parent spends about $500 per child per year.
Ian Slatter, director of media relations for the HSLDA, cited the 100,000 students graduated each year from homeschools as a reason the activity is getting more and more attention.
“Despite much resistance from outside the homeschool movement, whether from teachers unions, politicians, school administrators, judges, social service workers, or even family members, over the past few decades homeschoolers have slowly but surely won acceptance as a mainstream education alternative. This has been due in part to the commissioning of research which demonstrates the academic success of the average homeschooler,” the HSLDA report said.
Homeschoolers achieved the 89th percentile in reading, 84th in language, 84th in math, 86th in science and 84th in social studies.
The 37-point margin was significantly higher than the 30-point margin reported in a 1998 study on the issue, the HSLDA said.
“This particular study is the most comprehensive ever undertaken. It attempts to build upon and improve on the previous research. One criticism of the Rudner  study was that it only drew students from one large testing service. Although there was no reason to believe that homeschoolers participating with that service were automatically non-representative of the broader homeschool community, HSLDA decided to answer this criticism by using 15 independent testing services for this new study. There can be no doubt that homeschoolers from all walks of life and backgrounds participated in the “Progress Report.”
The report by Chris Klicka, senior counsel for the HSLDA, is titled, “The Myth of Teacher Qualifications.” He revealed that having “certified” teachers actually has a negative impact in some situations.
He reported, “Educational research does not indicate any positive correlation between teacher qualifications and student performance. Many courts have found teacher qualification requirements on homeschoolers to be too excessive or not appropriate. The trend in state legislatures across the country indicates an abandonment of teacher qualification requirements for homeschool teachers. In fact, Americans, in general, are realizing that the necessity of teacher qualifications is a myth. The teachers’ unions and other members of the educational establishment make up the small minority still lobbying for teacher certification in order to protect their disintegrating monopoly on education.”
The assessment said, “One of the most significant studies in this area was performed by Dr. Eric Hanushek of the University of Rochester, who surveyed the results of 113 studies on the impact of teachers’ qualifications on their students’ academic achievement. Eighty-five percent of the studies found no positive correlation between the educational performance of the students and the teacher’s educational background.
“Although 7 percent of the studies did find a positive correlation, 5 percent found a negative impact,” the report said.