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Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Home Schooling - The CO's findings

Home Schooling
Roughly two percent of American children are home schooled. Or about 1.1 million children. This figure actually surprised me with all the attention given to it; I fully expected the number to be closer be up over 5% and edging in on ten. That said, nearly one million children in absolute terms is still a lot.

According to the Home School Legal Defense Association, there are four basic levels of state oversight and regulation in regards to home schooling:
“State with high regulation: State requires parents to send notification or achievement test scores and/or professional evaluation, plus other requirements (e.g. curriculum approval by the state, teacher qualification of parents, or home visits by state officials).” Some of the states in this group include MA, UT, ME, WA, WV.
“States with moderate regulation: State requires parents to send notification, test scores, and/or professional evaluation of student progress.” Some of the states in this group include FL, GA, HI, SD, CO, NH
“States with low regulation: State requires parental notification only.” Some of the states in this group include MT, CA, MS, NV, WY, and KS.
“States requiring no notice: No state requirement for parents to initiate any contact.” TX, CT, OK, MO, ID, NJ.

Requiring no notice to me seems like a recipe for child abuse. True, it does allow the parent the most freedom, and maybe it is just a product of my up bringing that I automatically suspect poor parenting when parents behave in erratic ways. On the flip side, getting a child out of a school where there is staff abuse, or peer violence is a good thing. According to every study, I have heard of, home schooled children regardless of race, family income, or geography scored higher on the same standardized testing as public school children. Moreover, the longer a child was home schooled, the better they did.

Academically, although the results are still scanty I think that home schools may just be the best choice. It remains to be seen how well home schooled children are equipped in a social manner. I’m not aware of any study that tracks crime, pregnancy, or other indicators based on home, private, public and charter school education.

Please not that at this time of the day, my ability to edit at all complely evaporates.

Great post, but I have to take issue with your conclusion.

Home schooled children are tested and grouped as a single entity. There aren't any qualifying factors in their results. Public school children are grouped as a whole, lowest to highest, which brings test score averages down. An illustrative example would be a teacher I know who has two Down's children, four ADHD children, a group of average students and a few high achieving students in one class. Her Connecticut Mastery scores reflect that spread of academic ability, the high kids do great, the Down's kids don't, the ADHD and social misfits do just better than fail and the average average. The class average is significantly reduced by the presence of the less able leaners. It's not a fair comparison to home schooling.

It's the same argument for private schools. Private schools are restrictive in their admissions, thus they usually get the better, more motivated students and don't have to deal with lower academic abilities. Public "Charter Schools" are similar to private schools in that they "cherry pick" the best public school students leaving those less capable for the rest of the system to deal with.

Home schoolers also have an advantage in that core subjects are all they teach (beyond the religious or other secular leanings being taught). It's the same with private schools. In public schools, a whole pantheon of diversity, socialization, sports, etc., are academic distractions. And let's not forget that home schoolers take advantage of school sports, music and dramatic programs - they don't do all of it themselves.

One last comment on home schooling. The simple truth is that only the successes are reported. There are a lot of home schoolers who start and then stop because they aren't getting the results they want. Everything looks great when you only have to report how well you did and not how bad.

I'm not advocating public schools over home or private schooling. Public schools have their problems related to administrations who are incompetant, teachers who are retired on the job and well intentioned but misguided programs designed to "broaden" education taking time away from core learning.

As a nation we need to have a frank and open discussion of how to improve our once proud public school system.
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