August 7, 2001

NCES Releases Report on Home Schooling

The National Center for Education Statistics released its 1999 report on home schooling on August 3, 2001. Homeschooling in the United States: 1999 contains information on the characteristics of home schooled students and their families and the reasons parents decide to home school. This report was part of The Parent Survey of the National Household Education Surveys Program. The full report can be downloaded at: http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2001033

The study found that:

  • The household income of home school families was no different than other families.

  • Home school parents were educated, on average, at a higher level than were other parents. Twenty-five percent held bachelor's degrees, compared to 16.3% of non-home schooling parents, and 25.3% of home school parents have graduate degrees, compared to 16.7% of other parents.

  • Twenty-five percent of home school families are minorities: 9.9% are black, 9.1% are Hispanic, and 5.8% are "other."

  • On the average, home school families have more children: 61.6% have three or more children, while 43.7% of all families have three or more children.

  • A large majority-80.4%-of home school families have two parents, compared to 65.5% of all households.

  • The study estimates that only 850,000 children in the U.S. are home schooled, or about 1.7% of all school age children. This figure is based on the percentage of survey respondents who identified themselves as home schoolers: 275 home schoolers to 16,833 non-home schoolers.

Home School Legal Defense Association believes this last estimate is too low for two main reasons. First, many home schoolers are hesitant to fill out government surveys-these parents have fought so hard to establish their right to teach their children free from government control that they are often cautious about giving the government any information that they feel could lead to a restriction of this right. A number of home schooling families who received this survey may simply not have responded. Second, in 12 states, many home schools are considered private schools under their state law and, as a result, may have identified themselves as private schools instead of home schools.

Although the NCES survey does not address academic achievement and may be self-limiting because of some home schoolers' averseness to government-sponsored research, it does provide useful demographic information that may help researchers and legislators better understand home schoolers. For research on home schoolers' academic achievement, see Home Schooling Works! by Dr. Lawrence M. Rudner, Director of the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation, and Home Education Across America by Dr. Brian D. Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute.