Conventional Schools Better Than Homeschools? Statistics Prove Otherwise
By Rebekah Pruden Beveridge
As you know, homeschooling is generating a great deal of attention these days, and much of it is positive. More and more studies are being done on the effects of home instruction on children’s performance both academically and socially.
In an article entitled “Home-Based Education: An Alternative That Works,” John Wesley Taylor V, Ph.D., Chairman of the Department of Education at Hartland College, uses the results of several studies to show that children schooled at home often demonstrate superior academic and social achievement.
Dr. Taylor cites several studies which indicate that homeschoolers generally perform at least at the same level as their counterparts attending conventional schools, and frequently at advanced levels. According to Dr. Taylor, a 1981–82 sampling of 156 Alaskan homeschoolers and a 1984 follow-up study of 355 homeschoolers showed that homeschooled children in Alaska performed well above average. Many of these students scored above the 75th percentile. The Alaska Department of Education concluded that the students learning at home demonstrated superior achievement. (“Facts about Alaska’s Centralized Correspondence Study Program [CCS].” Method: Alaskan Perspectives, 7 , 3.)
Additionally, Dr. Taylor discovered that a study of homeschooling children taken to court scored, on the average, above the 80th percentile on achievement tests. (“Home Education and Constitutional Liberties,” Rutherford Institute Report, Vol. 2, and “Home Schooling: An Idea Whose Time Has Returned,” Human Events, September 15, 1984.) He also noted that eighty research studies, which compared tutored students with those educated in the conventional classroom, found tutored students averaged in the 80th-percentile range. Research results documented by Benjamin Bloom also found that student achievement was much higher in one-to-one tutoring settings than under conventional school conditions. And a 1986 study conducted by the state of Washington involving 426 homeschoolers determined that these students scored as well or better than their peers across the nation on the Stanford Achievement Test. (Wartes, J. Report from the 1986 Home School Testing and Other Descriptive Information About Homeschoolers. Washington Home School Research Project.) Dr. Taylor’s research found not one study which suggests that, as a group, homeschoolers perform below average.
There are perhaps many reasons why homeschoolers do so well academically, but Dr. Taylor lists several key factors, one being that often as little as 18% of the time a student spends in a conventional school is actually spent in scholastic work, while homeschool children generally spend a great deal of time in scholastic endeavors. Instead of wasting time on travel to and from school, attendance and discipline procedures, and continual repeating of instructions or explanations, Dr. Taylor says homeschoolers can focus on achieving goals. He also thinks that the absence of negative peer pressure, the development of positive and close relationships with teacher-parents, and the opportunity for intellectual exploration through individualized learning create an atmosphere where superior academic achievement and enhanced self-worth can flourish.
Some critics of homeschooling argue that students educated at home are deprived socially. However, Dr. Taylor found that the Piers-Harris Children&squo;s Self-Concept Scale, one of the best self-concept instruments available, proves otherwise. The scale was used to evaluate 224 homeschooling participants in grades 4 through 12. One-half of the participants scored above the 90th percentile on the scale, and only 10.3 percent scored below the national average. (Taylor, J.W., Self-Concept in Home-Schooling Children. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan 1986.)
Dr. Taylor’s findings compliment HSLDA's discoveries. For example, Raymond S. Moore of the Hewitt Research Foundation cites researchers from Tufts, Cornell, Stanford, and California, who have studied the socialization of children, to demonstrate that children are better socialized by parental example and sharing than by their peers. Moore says that “negative, me-first sociability is born from more peer group association and fewer meaningful parental contacts during the first 8 to 12 years” (Hewitt Research Foundation Bulletin, January 1, 1984).
HSLDA research has also found that Dr. Taylor’s findings regarding the scholastic superiority of homeschoolers are consistent with HSLDA findings. Our research found both individual and collective homeschool success stories from all across the nation. We found that in 1985 a student schooled at home by his parents received the highest GED score in the entire state of Mississippi (“Growing Without Schooling,” Publication #53). Additionally, a homeschooler scored 98 of a possible 99 on the ASVAB to enter the U.S. Navy (Spokesman Review and Spokane Chronicle, February 12, 1987). And recently, an 18-year-old who never attended a formal school accepted a scholarship to Harvard University (Associated press, Pasadena Star News, April 28, 1986).
Test results from a 1986 test administered by the state of Tennessee to public school students and homeschooled children in grades 3 through 8 revealed that Tennessee homeschoolers are performing better than public school children. The average reading score for homeschooled 3rd-graders was 90.2%, while their counterparts in the public schools averaged in the 78th percentile. The 3rd-graders schooled at home also scored higher in math. Their average math score was 86.8%, while the public-school 3rd-graders’ average was 80.0%.
According to a study performed by the Alaska Department of Education over the last five years, students in the Centralized Correspondence Study (CCS) Program, a state-administered homeschool program, score consistently higher than their peers in Alaskan public schools on standard achievement tests. Students enrolled in the correspondence course study the same curriculum as do those in the public school, yet 4th-grade reading scores for 1985 place the average reading score for students taught at home at 16 percentile points higher than those taught in the conventional classroom. The homeschooled 4th-graders scored in the 84th percentile, while their public school counterparts scored in the 68th. The same is true of older students. The 1985 test results showed homeschooled 8th-graders scoring in the 86th percentile in reading and the 84th percentile in math, while their peers in the public school averaged in the 74th percentile in reading and in the 72nd percentile in math (Method: Alaska Perspectives, Alaska Department of Education, 1986).
Students schooled at home have been accepted into some of the most highly respected colleges and universities in the nation and the world. Some of the students, of whom HSLDA has record, have been accepted to the following institutions of higher education: Antioch College (OH), Brigham Young University, Christendom College (VA), Cumberland County College (NJ), Harvard University, Kenyon College (OH), Loyola College (MD), Mt. Vernon Nazarene College, Oxford University, Pensacola Christian College, Princeton University, Stockton State College (NJ), Texas A&M, Towson State (MD), University of Delaware, Virginia Tech, Whitman College (WA), and Yale University.
The academic and socialization benefits of homeschooling will come as no surprise to those teaching their children at home. Children schooled at home have a tremendous advantage over those in the conventional classroom. Not only do they have one-on-one tutoring daily, they also have loving parents as their tutors.