HSLDA Media Release
March 23, 1999

Home school academic advantage increases over time

For immediate release
March 23, 1999
Contact: Rich Jefferson
(540) 338-8663 or media@hslda.org

PURCELLVILLE, VA—The largest study ever conducted on home schooling in the United States concludes that in the race to scholastic excellence, typical home school students sprint to the front in the early grades, and generally finish far ahead of students in public or private schools.

"Young home school students run one grade level ahead of their counterparts in public and private schools. But by the finish line, home schoolers have pulled away from the pack, typically scoring in the 70th or 80th percentile on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills," said Michael Farris, founder and president of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).

More than 30 education reporters from across the country were set to join the online chat room at noon to discuss the study with Farris and the study's author, Lawrence M. Rudner, director of the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment at the University of Maryland. Rudner, an independent researcher, was commissioned by HSLDA to conduct the study. The study was officially release Tuesday, mid-day. The study will be available to all reporters at 3 p.m. EST online at www.hslda.org.

The research, which assesses the scholastic achievement and demographic characteristics of more than 20,000 home school students, is also published in the March issue of the refereed journal, Educational Policy Analysis Archives, at http://epaa.asu.edu.

Families chose to participate before they knew their children's test scores, and all students took the same nationally well-respected tests: the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) for grades K-8, and the Tests of Achievement and Proficiency (TAP) for grades 9-12, both published by the Riverside Publishing Company. The ITBS is used extensively in public and private schools.

Accordingly, the study results are consistent with previous smaller studies and the observations of those involved in home schooling. "Home school students and their families are very serious about education," said Farris. "We have always known that home school students excel academically. We now have independent verification of that fact."

Rudner is quick to note that the study should not be read as criticism of public or private schools. "This was not a controlled experiment. The study simply shows that home schooling works for those who try it."

Home schooling has been rapidly growing abroad and in the United States, with estimates of U.S. home school students ranging form 700,000 to 2 million.