The first federal report in a dozen years on school choice confirms what homeschooling advocates have been saying about the movement: more families, for more reasons, are choosing to teach their children at home.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released the report less than a week ago.

A federally funded arm of the Department of Education responsible for collecting data related to education in the United States., NCES is most well-known for administering the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), also known as the “Nation’s Report Card.” The last time they released a comprehensive report on school choice was in 2007.

With the increasing array of education opportunities available to families, an updated survey was overdue.

This new survey gives information on student enrollment across the country. The report delves into who chooses what type of education and why, as well as the achievement and school safety of each choice.

Seeking Alternatives

According to the data, the number of students enrolled in public schools dropped from 74% in 1999 to 69% in 2016. While not a huge change, it’s a clear sign that more and more families are choosing alternatives to government-funded schools.

One of the survey’s most notable findings revealed what many of us already know: that home education has become increasingly popular in America, with more families homeschooling than ever before. Between 1999 and 2016, the number of homeschool families nearly doubled, from 850,000 students to 1.7 million.

The survey also asked parents to identify their reasons for choosing home education. The top reason cited was a concern about school environment, such as safety, drugs, or negative peer pressure (33%). The second- and third-most cited reasons were dissatisfaction with the academic instruction at their schools (17%) and a desire to provide religious instruction (15%).

While this survey reports on data that is now several years old, it confirms of what we already knew. Homeschooling is a sound and thriving alternative form of education that is growing every year. Here at HSLDA, we are dedicated to protecting the rights of families to choose home education and ensuring that the homeschool community continues flourishing.