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How do home schoolers measure up?
· Median Composite Scores
· Grade Level
· Grade Equivalent
· Scores by Academic Setting
· Rankings Based on Gender
· Rank on Parent Certification

Who home schools?
· Academic Achievement
· Income
· Family Size
· Marital Status
· Daily Television Viewing
· Money Spent per Student

Why are home schoolers succeeding?

The study
The researcher

The following is a summary of...
The Scholastic Achievement and Demographic Characteristics of Home School Students in 1998, by Lawrence M. Rudner, Ph.D. A copy of the full report can be found here or, see the peer-reviewd online journal Education Policy Analysis Archives at

All photos by
Rebekah A. Parker © 1999

Academic and demographic information from the largest national study of home schooled students

Who home schools?
    The home school community is undoubtedly a unique segment of American society. Figure 7Far from being a cross-section of the American public, home schoolers stand out in several areas beyond the obvious distinction of their educational choices.
    The background questionnaires returned for this study reveal that, on average, home school parents have more formal education than parents in the general population, with 88% having continued their education beyond high school compared to 50% for the nation as a whole (Figure 7). Furthermore, almost one in four home school students (24%) has at least one parent who is a certified teacher.
    Home school families have a higher median income ($52,000 in 1997) than the median income of all American families with children ($36,000 in 1995) (Figure 8). Home school families also tend to be larger than the national average; the majority (62.1%) have three or more children, while most American families with school-age children (79.6%) have only one or two children (Figure 9).
    The overwhelming majority of home schooling parents are married couples (97.3%), compared to only 72% of families with school-age children nationwide (Figure 10). Furthermore, 76.9% of home school mothers do not work for pay, while 86.3% of those who do work, only work part-time. Nationwide, in 1996, only 30% of married women with children under 18 did not participate in the labor force.
Figure 10
    The home school students who participated in the study were proportionally younger than the general American school population. Only 11.4% of home school students were in grades 9–12, compared to 30.3% of all students nationwide. This could be due to the relative newness of the home school movement, early graduation from high school, the desire of some students to attend a public or private high school, or simply the fact that some older students do not take achievement tests, opting instead for SAT preparatory testing.
Figure 11
    The home schooling community contains a smaller percentage of racial minorities (6%) than public schools nationally (32.8%). The religious preferences of home schooling mothers who participated in this study are most often Independent Fundamental (25.1%), Baptist (24.4%), Independent Charismatic (8.2%), Roman Catholic (5.4%), Assembly of God (4.1%), Presbyterian (3.8%), or Reformed (3.4%). In 93.1% of families, the religious preference of the father was the same as that of the mother. Figure 12(Home school leaders believe the high numbers of mothers and fathers reporting evangelical preferences is likely skewed in favor of religious home schoolers, since the families obtained the tests through a religious supplier. However, there is no known reason to believe that secular home school students perform at a lower academic level than religious home schoolers.)
    Another distinguishing characteristic is that home schooled children tend to watch significantly less television than do average American children. On average, only 1.6% of home schoolers in the 4th grade watch more than three hours of television per day, compared to nearly 40% of 4th graders nationwide (Figure 11).
    The median amount of money spent in 1997 on educational materials for home school students was $400. When we consider this relatively small expenditure in light of the high scholastic achievement of most home school students, we can reasonably conclude that it does not require a great deal of money to home school successfully (Figure 12).

FIGURE 7: * National data: U.S. Census (1996; Table 8). Figures do not total 100% due to rounding.
FIGURE 8: * National data for 1995 from Bruno and Curry (1997, Table 19). Figures do not total 100% due to rounding.
FIGURE 9: * National data: U.S. Census (1997a, Table 77).
FIGURE 10: * Figures do not total 100% due to rounding.
FIGURE 11: * Figures do not total 100% due to rounding. ** National data: NAEP Math 1997.
FIGURE 12.1: * Figures do not total 100% due to rounding.
FIGURE 12.2: * Composite Percentile Score refers to the percentile corresponding to the mean composite scaled score.


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