J. Michael Smith, Esq.
Michael P. Farris, JD, LLM
Cardus Survey—The Rest of the Story
September 6, 2011
In the last month the results of a new study called the Cardus Education Survey were made public, and they have been examined by many publications and organizations. The Cardus study, led mostly by Canadian educational experts, explores the impact of learning programs on adults after graduation.
There were many interesting findings in the Cardus study that may be very informative regarding the various education models. However, despite some of the media’s colorful commentary regarding homeschooling, the study offered very little insight into homeschooling.
Although the study had over 2,000 respondents, the homeschool data was collected from fewer than 90 surveyed adults. That means the margin of error for the data far exceeds normal statistical reliability.
Some of the media has spun some of the data and used it to showcase supposed homeschool weaknesses. However, a far better picture of homeschool graduates is available in the 2003 study of slightly over 5,000 adults who were homeschooled. The author, Dr. Brian Ray, examined occupations, style of living, civic involvement, and enjoyment of life. For example, Ray found that homeschool alumni are twice as likely to say that they are “very happy” with life (58.9%) compared to those in the general United States populace (27.6%).
In 2009, a smaller study was published by the Canadian Center for Home Education (link 2). This study found that, contrary to the Cardus report where homeschoolers were more likely to “feel helpless in dealing with life’s problems,” a strong majority (63%) felt that “having been home educated is an advantage to me as an adult.”
You can read more about the profile of statistical homeschool alumni in the Homeschooling Grows Up study.
The rest of the story is clear; the Cardus study may be very useful for some of the other education segments, but the data is not conclusive and contradicts more thorough homeschool studies.
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