Homeschoolers and ACT scores

CNSNews and other sources ar reporting that homeschoolers scored above the national average on the ACT.

“The national average for 2009 graduating high schoolers reported by ACT (American College Testing) officials is 21.1 on a scale from 1 to 36.  Homeschoolers scored a national average of 22.5.
 
Like the SAT, ACT scores are used in the college admissions process to evaluate applicants.  Virtually all colleges accept either test, Ed Colby, spokesman for the ACT, told CNSNews.com.
 
Scores are based on the 1.48 million students who graduated in 2009, Colby said.  Among those students were 11,535 homeschoolers, he said.”

College readiness and higher-than-average test scores for homeschoolers are usually attributed to the one-on-one attention, individualization of their course of study, and high degree of self-motivated/directed learning amongst a large percentage of homeschooled students.

Some folks feel that the comparison is not fair. After all, homeschooling tends to self-select for dedicated and engaged parents- a factor amongst all students that contributes to academic success. The average score for public schooled students includes those whose parents are apathetic about their children’s education. But the fact remains- the concerns of those who believe that homeschooling deprives a child of educational quality and opportunity are misplaced. Their concern should instead be aimed at the children who fall through the cracks in the system every day, whose parents simply shuffle their kids off to school without proper clothing or nutrition, adequate supplies, or completed assignments.

 

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ChrisC's picture

1.4 points isn't that big of a difference. i changed my score by more than that just by taking the test a second time.

if a future study is going to account for parental involvement, it should probably also account for economic status. not that homeschoolers are generally wealthy or anything, but homeschooling is not a choice for low-income or single-parent families.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

ChrisC wrote:
1.4 points isn't that big of a difference. i changed my score by more than that just by taking the test a second time.

if a future study is going to account for parental involvement, it should probably also account for economic status. not that homeschoolers are generally wealthy or anything, but homeschooling is not a choice for low-income or single-parent families.


1.4 points is not a big difference, but that is not the point. Folks often criticize homeschooling on the basis that parents cannot provide a quality education for their children, and these results disprove that notion.

Also, it is a common misconception that low income or single parent households can't or don't homeschool. I've networked with homeschoolers for over 15 years, and I can say from experience that it is quite common for low income families and single parents to find ways to accommodate the home education lifestyle. You can find them blogging on the internet by the boatload just by Googling.

I find that most people make judgments about what home education must be like from their own very limited experience and preconceived notions- hence the continual propagation of misinformation and unfounded criticisms that discourage folks from looking into homeschooling, when many families would benefit from it tremendously. Getting the information in the article linked above out into the sun is a good thing.

Ed Vasicek's picture

We homeschooled our children from grades K-12, and they did above average on tests.

But we homeschooled primarily for moral and spiritual reasons. Homeschooled children tend to be more peer resistant, as they find security in their families rather than peer groups. They also tend to be more inter-generational (the adults are not the enemy).

Our kids are both walking with the Lord, both very outgoing and have lots of friends and interests. And we have a good relationship with them. Our son is a student at Moody and our daughter works in D.C. and participates in an excellent Bible church -- which has also provided her with a source of good friends.

Although it is tempting to defend homeschooling on the basis of academic standards, what you aim for is primary -- because it determines how you direct your children. I think we want our kids to do at least as well educated as they would in a public school (which, I guess, is the point of this post), but younger generations of homeschooling parents, in my view, are not as PARTICIPATORY in group activities and events. One goal of homeschooling should be to develop children who participate in their churches and communities.

We took our kids to the library programs, our son played soccer in the Police Athletic League, our kids participated in art classes, gym classes, and homeschooling social events. The newer generation seems mostly concerned about academics and are not developing the team players that many in the past generation did. Many of our friends participated in the Scouts; our son was in Civil Air Patrol. We've always had some isolationists, but it seems like more parents are less concerned about producing well-rounded adults.

But, when all is said and done, we are mighty glad we homeschooled.

"The Midrash Detective"

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I agree Ed- we homeschool as a lifestyle choice more than a primarily academic one, but this post is more about how the public measures a 'quality' education. Let's face it- kids get into college based on their ACT and/or SAT scores, and the public, especially those in academia, place great value on testing. Check out http://www.thebigmoney.com/articles/diploma-mill/2009/05/13/taking-ats?p... ]this article on high stakes testing- mucho dinero involved, of course.

You can read an online debate about homeschooling http://www.opposingviews.com/questions/are-homeschooled-kids-at-a-disadv... ]here . You'll see the emphasis on meeting gov't standards, suggestions about certification of the parents or the involvement of certified teachers in the homeschool as being desirable, and testing requirements. That debate illustrates what most people believe about education, in spite of the fact that the opposition (Marty Hittelman, President of the California Federation of Teachers) admits again and again that public schools aren't perfect, they are over-crowded, underfunded, and don't produce consistent results. I really have a hard time taking these educrats seriously- do they even realize what they are saying?

We must acknowledge that many battles are won and lost in the court of public opinion. Policy makers are influenced and elected by the citizenry, and what little bits of correct information we can get out there in order to combat the myths that misguided people continue to propagate will hopefully preserve our homeschooling freedoms for the future.

rogercarlson's picture

This is interesting. I hope I have been clear over the time at SI that I am not anit-homeschool. We did do it until we could no longer b/c of our special needs child. This is my wife's 3rd year back to teaching 3rd grade. She has a student who is in her first year in a traditional school after stopping homeschooling. She is VERY far behind. Her older sister is in the same boat. The teachers and the school are working with the parents to help the children. But I think this is the case of a family that probably should not have home schooled, IMHO. The kids are great spiritually, but to say they are struggling acedemically would be the understatement of the year.

My point is that my theory seems to ring true again. Depending on the situation, all three options (home, private/christian, public) are available and may be necessary at different stages of education. Each parent must prayerfully consider, and must each be approached by informed parents. The vast majority of HS parents are excellent and do a great job. Many Christian schools do a great job, but it takes high parental involvment. The same can be said of public schools. I say this as a parent that has homeschooled, have children in Christian schools, and public schools at the present time.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

rogercarlson wrote:
... This is my wife's 3rd year back to teaching 3rd grade. She has a student who is in her first year in a traditional school after stopping homeschooling. She is VERY far behind. Her older sister is in the same boat. The teachers and the school are working with the parents to help the children. But I think this is the case of a family that probably should not have home schooled, IMHO. The kids are great spiritually, but to say they are struggling acedemically would be the understatement of the year.

The idea of children being 'behind' is repugnant to me. Children are individuals who learn and mature at different rates. Very few people know the history of learning standards- on what were they based, and for what purpose, and they don't take into account the permanent damage caused by telling small children they are 'behind' (which being interpreted in a child's mind equals 'stupid').

I don't start my kids in formal schooling until they are 8 years old. Are they 3 years behind? Nope- my 13 yr old is starting 9th grade this year, my 11 yr old is in 7th, and my 7 yr old is building something with Knex. However, the youngest can read simple books, add and subtract to 100, and follow instructions to build large complicated Lego and Knex models. He also scored a 99 on the CATs this year because testing is required to comply with state regs.

I do agree, Roger, that parental involvement is key, and I've said before that many problems in schools would be resolved if parents parented, and educated themselves about their school boards, principals, teachers, curriculum, and teaching methods, and were able to contribute some time, talent, and energy to their community schools.

But back to the topic Wink - homeschoolers again and again demonstrate the kind of proficiency that translates into academic success in the mind of the public, so the fact that it continues to be treated with skepticism and calls for more regulations is unreasonable.

rogercarlson's picture

Susan,
I didnt meant to frustrate you. I will pm about the student in question.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

rogercarlson wrote:
Susan,
I didnt meant to frustrate you. I will pm about the student in question.

You are not frustrating me- the topic can be frustrating, since it is also interwoven with so many cultural and societal norms that it is hard to separate the issues in order to deal with them one at a time. I am sure that there are children being homeschooled that are underserved, and some people who really oughta' skip parenthood entirely and get a dog instead. Wink

wbarkema's picture

Susan R wrote:
1.4 points is not a big difference, but that is not the point. Folks often criticize homeschooling on the basis that parents cannot provide a quality education for their children, and these results disprove that notion.
Two thoughts come from this.
1. I wonder how, and if, this has changed over time. How did homeschoolers fare on the ACT throughout the years. The reason I ask would be that this might be a result of the growth of homeschooling as an education option as opposed to just homeschooling in general. One does not have to dig too deep to understand that the educational materials avaialable to homeschoolers has matured well past what used to be. Many more courses are available as well as a the opportunity for COOP arrangements.
2. I would still contend that most parent are not qualified to educate their children and these results do not disprove that. What they prove is what I stated in my first point. I would contend that the materails available provide that education and the parents provide them the opportunity. I know very few homeschool parents who were able to educate their children in upper math or sciences. What I have witnessed is that the parents are able to purchase the appropriate video teaching (or other materials) that would enable their kids to learn the subject matter. Or, they may even send them to a Jr. College for the advanced classes (which seems to me to be somewhat contradictory to the whole homeschool philosophy). So, while the kids may have their classroom at home, thereby qualifying as a homeschooler, their parent is acting more in an advisory capacity than a teacher.
*****Please understand that these are generalizations and may not reflect the experiences of everyone involved. Also, I am not necessarily anti-homeschool. With that being said, I do believe the definition of what homeschool was and what homeschool has become at this moment in time, is vastly different and should probably be judged as such.

rogercarlson's picture

Susan R wrote:
rogercarlson wrote:
Susan,
I didnt meant to frustrate you. I will pm about the student in question.

You are not frustrating me- the topic can be frustrating, since it is also interwoven with so many cultural and societal norms that it is hard to separate the issues in order to deal with them one at a time. I am sure that there are children being homeschooled that are underserved, and some people who really oughta' skip parenthood entirely and get a dog instead. Wink

You are right except some might not be able to handle a dog either. Smile But I think there are some very good parents who are not equipped to home school. If that is the case, they still cannot check out in educating their kids. I think we are not that far apart. BTW, in the example that I gave, the student in question can barely read. She is not anything like your kids.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

ChrisC's picture

Susan R wrote:
Also, it is a common misconception that low income or single parent households can't or don't homeschool. I've networked with homeschoolers for over 15 years, and I can say from experience that it is quite common for low income families and single parents to find ways to accommodate the home education lifestyle. You can find them blogging on the internet by the boatload just by Googling.
i guess we have a different idea of what is low income. my idea of low income is more like the last sentence in your first post and not like the folks who think they're low income, but find money for a computer and internet.

Rev Karl's picture

I saw this on the news site this AM. I saw it on Foxnews.com, and the link took me to this story. (It's not on the Foxnews wesite now.)

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20090829/homeschooled-girl-ordered-...

The story is about a homeschooled child who has been ordered by the court in NH to attend public school.

A quote from the article.

"In the process of renegotiating the terms of a parenting plan for the girl, the Guardian ad Litem – who acts as a fact finder for the court – reported that Amanda was found to "lack some youthful characteristics," partly because "she appeared to reflect her mother's rigidity on questions of faith."

Evidently the decision was made, not on the basis of scholastics, but on the basis of what is acceptable to the GAL in the way of behavioral norms.

Does this "frighten" (cause legitimate concern) anyone besides me?

rogercarlson's picture

ChrisC wrote:
Susan R wrote:
Also, it is a common misconception that low income or single parent households can't or don't homeschool. I've networked with homeschoolers for over 15 years, and I can say from experience that it is quite common for low income families and single parents to find ways to accommodate the home education lifestyle. You can find them blogging on the internet by the boatload just by Googling.
i guess we have a different idea of what is low income. my idea of low income is more like the last sentence in your first post and not like the folks who think they're low income, but find money for a computer and internet.

Chris,

Here in the states it is not uncommon for truly low income families to have these things (hey, I am in that category...LOL). I minister to very low income people all the time that have these things and more. It is what it is - people generally "afford" what is a priority.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

IMO it is a contradiction to say that "parents aren't qualified" on the one hand, but then admit that what many parents do is direct their children to quality materials, or find a tutor/class. It sounds to me like the ability to guide one's children and encourage them to educate themselves is much more preferable than the Chalk&Talk for the Sit&Git, which is the traditional classroom method of 'education'. As I said before, so say I now again- he who puts forth the effort does the learning, and in most classrooms the teacher does the most work while the kids are passive. Not the best educational scenario.

On the HSLDA website is http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200410250.asp ]some information about studies that have been done to judge the effectiveness of homeschooling.

Quote:
In 1997, a study of 5,402 homeschool students from 1,657 families was released. It was entitled, "Strengths of Their Own: Home Schoolers Across America." The study demonstrated that homeschoolers, on the average, out-performed their counterparts in the public schools by 30 to 37 percentile points in all subjects. A significant finding when analyzing the data for 8th graders was the evidence that homeschoolers who are homeschooled two or more years score substantially higher than students who have been homeschooled one year or less. The new homeschoolers were scoring on the average in the 59th percentile compared to students homeschooled the last two or more years who scored between 86th and 92nd percentile.

This was confirmed in another study by Dr. Lawrence Rudner of 20,760 homeschooled students which found the homeschoolers who have homeschooled all their school aged years had the highest academic achievement. This was especially apparent in the higher grades. ii This is a good encouragement to families catch the long-range vision and homeschool through high school.

Another important finding of Strengths of Their Own was that the race of the student does not make any difference. There was no significant difference between minority and white homeschooled students. For example, in grades K-12, both white and minority students scored, on the average, in the 87th percentile. In math, whites scored in the 82nd percentile while minorities scored in the 77th percentile. In the public schools, however, there is a sharp contrast. White public school eighth grade students, nationally scored the 58th percentile in math and the 57th percentile in reading. Black eighth grade students, on the other hand, scored on the average at the 24th percentile in math and the 28th percentile in reading. Hispanics scored at the 29th percentile in math and the 28th percentile in reading....

Another obstacle that seems to be overcome in homeschooling is the need to spend a great deal of money in order to have a good education. In Strengths of Their Own, Dr. Ray found the average cost per homeschool student is $546 while the average cost per public school student is $5,325. Yet the homeschool children in this study averaged in 85th percentile while the public school students averaged in the 50th percentile on nationally standardized achievement tests.

For people who are so enamored of testing, it is amazing the skepticism that still exists. In my opinion this proves the extent to which many have been institutionalized in their thinking. They can't imagine home education being a very effective choice, and yet public education has only been around for what- 120 years or so? Parents throughout time have found ways to make sure their kids got some book learnin' or were mentored/apprenticed with a professional of some kind, and this passed for a quality education for hundreds of years.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

ChrisC wrote:
Susan R wrote:
Also, it is a common misconception that low income or single parent households can't or don't homeschool. I've networked with homeschoolers for over 15 years, and I can say from experience that it is quite common for low income families and single parents to find ways to accommodate the home education lifestyle. You can find them blogging on the internet by the boatload just by Googling.
i guess we have a different idea of what is low income. my idea of low income is more like the last sentence in your first post and not like the folks who think they're low income, but find money for a computer and internet.

Our family income is well below poverty level according to the US gov't. Owning a computer and having internet access means that we live very frugally, we've never had a new car, we shop thrift stores and garage sales... we recycle scrap metal and even dumpster dive on occasion. People spend money on what they consider to be important, and for us, our children's educations are top-priority.

Many of the kids who show up unprepared for school are not from low income families. They have parents who don't care. You can have lots of money and not care about your kids, ya' know.

I can understand a homeless person not being able to homeschool though. http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php ][img ]http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-rolleyes007.gif[/img ]

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Rev Karl wrote:
I saw this on the news site this AM....The story is about a homeschooled child who has been ordered by the court in NH to attend public school.

A quote from the article.

"In the process of renegotiating the terms of a parenting plan for the girl, the Guardian ad Litem – who acts as a fact finder for the court – reported that Amanda was found to "lack some youthful characteristics," partly because "she appeared to reflect her mother's rigidity on questions of faith."

Evidently the decision was made, not on the basis of scholastics, but on the basis of what is acceptable to the GAL in the way of behavioral norms.

Does this "frighten" (cause legitimate concern) anyone besides me?


I've seen this time and time again in divorce cases- parents using the child to get at each other, and homeschooling makes for a convenient point for manipulation and revenge since it's still considered 'weird'.

WHICH IS MY POINT- where else can one see the evidence ignored again and again and again in favor of a societal sacred cow?

wbarkema's picture

Susan R wrote:
IMO it is a contradiction to say that "parents aren't qualified" on the one hand, but then admit that what many parents do is direct their children to quality materials, or find a tutor/class. It sounds to me like the ability to guide one's children and encourage them to educate themselves is much more preferable than the Chalk&Talk for the Sit&Git, which is the traditional classroom method of 'education'.

How is this contradictory? Nobody ever said we shouldn't be concerned for our kids and direct them. I send my kids to our public school and still do what you are advocating to make sure they have all the information needed to continue to grow.

Do you have teenage, or "high school" level kids at home. (I am sincerely asking because I do not know) How are they getting their information for Trigonometry, Calculus, Chemistry, Biology or other such classes? There are some subjects that most people will not have the knowledge to impart to their kids. Directing them to a resource that can is the right thing, it doesn't necessarily make them able to educate that subject.There are some things that are first ingested through the Chalk&Talk or Sit&Git method. For goodness sakes, that is what pretty much everyone of us on this board do on Sunday mornings.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I've graduated one who is currently serving in Iraq. I have 3 more at home, ages 13, 11, and 8. They get their information about advanced academics via their curriculum- they are essentially self-directed learners. When they have trouble, sometimes I can explain (I was in school for 12 years, ya' know Wink ) and other times I find a resource that will help, whether it's another book, a DVD, a website, or a tutor.

It seems to me that you are confusing some things, or maybe I am getting stuck on your choice of words. You said "I would still contend that most parent are not qualified to educate their children and these results do not disprove that" But if a child receives a quality education, how can the parent not be qualified just because they themselves are not experts in every field of study? The results prove that parents are qualified to direct their child's educations at home. I don't think any study has claimed that parents have to be experts in every subject in order to be able to homeschool.

I'm not going to compare 'the foolishness of preaching' to academics.

rogercarlson's picture

Susan,

Again, I think we agree in principle. But you seem to imply that homeschooling is the only real option. For many, it is. For others, it is not. Yet the example I gave, clearly shows a family that cannot homeschool. They are doing a wonderful job exucating their kids spiritually. But they kids are sub par on reading. You said your own kids read at small ages. In the example I gave, she could not read three letter words. Something is wrong with this family's approach to homeschool. They recognize it and put them in a Christian school. I would argrue that if a child is that far behind, especially by jr h (as the older one) HS is not for them. Again, tell me where I am wrong.

As far as your example as directing children and the downplaying the classroom method. I don't disagree that what you are advocating is legit. But you seem to be arguing to the point where you are about to box yourself in to imply preaching isn't good because it is a "classroom" method to a point. When I preach, I exhort to self study, I still take 45 min several times a week to "teach/preach." Smile

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

rogercarlson wrote:
Susan,

Again, I think we agree in principle. But you seem to imply that homeschooling is the only real option. For many, it is. For others, it is not. Yet the example I gave, clearly shows a family that cannot homeschool. They are doing a wonderful job exucating their kids spiritually. But they kids are sub par on reading. You said your own kids read at small ages. In the example I gave, she could not read three letter words. Something is wrong with this family's approach to homeschool. They recognize it and put them in a Christian school. I would argrue that if a child is that far behind, especially by jr h (as the older one) HS is not for them. Again, tell me where I am wrong.

As far as your example as directing children and the downplaying the classroom method. I don't disagree that what you are advocating is legit. But you seem to be arguing to the point where you are about to box yourself in to imply preaching isn't good because it is a "classroom" method to a point. When I preach, I exhort to self study, I still take 45 min several times a week to "teach/preach." Smile


I think we do agree, Roger. I have not said that homeschooling is the only option. I've stated that for some parents and children who would benefit from home education, the unfounded criticisms can be quite discouraging. I agree that some families are not going to benefit from home education for a variety of reasons that we can talk about in another thread some time.

I think what happens from the pulpit to the pew is different than imparting academics. I didn't imply that preaching isn't good because it's a 'classroom'- but it is as much on a spiritual plane as a mental one, and I am just saying I don't intend to pursue the comparison that wbarkema brought up. We certainly don't ascertain the effectiveness of preaching with standardized tests... Wink

wbarkema's picture

Susan R wrote:
I've graduated one who is currently serving in Iraq. I have 3 more at home, ages 13, 11, and 8. They get their information about advanced academics via their curriculum- they are essentially self-directed learners. When they have trouble, sometimes I can explain (I was in school for 12 years, ya' know Wink ) and other times I find a resource that will help, whether it's another book, a DVD, a website, or a tutor.

Congratulations and please tell your son (I am assuming) thank you for his service. I am able to help my kids as well. I have a degree in Mathematics and Education, but haven't really used the advanced math for some time. While I am "qualified" to assist my son with Calculus, I do not remember all of the things needed to be of real value to him. I would not equate providing him with the tools and resources to learn the same as educating him in calculus. I have taught him how to be self-sufficient, but that doesn't show him how to do a derivative.

Susan R wrote:
It seems to me that you are confusing some things, or maybe I am getting stuck on your choice of words. You said "I would still contend that most parent are not qualified to educate their children and these results do not disprove that" But if a child receives a quality education, how can the parent not be qualified just because they themselves are not experts in every field of study? The results prove that parents are qualified to direct their child's educations at home. I don't think any study has claimed that parents have to be experts in every subject in order to be able to homeschool.

Just because my daughter can play the piano does not prove that I am able to teach her how to play the piano. It proves that I am able to find someone who does know how to teach the piano. I have a friend who was homeschooled, went to college, got his degreee in engineering, and is now going back to get his doctorate from MIT. My contention is that his acedemic prowess is not a result of his mom's homeschooling (he did videos through high school), but rather his ability to learn in multiple settings as well as understanding the materials delivered by those who DID know the content. His mom did not educate him in engineering, she provided him the opportunity to be educated.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

but you are arguing a point no one has attempted to make. Hitting rewind here-
You apparently responded to my statement "Folks often criticize homeschooling on the basis that parents cannot provide a quality education for their children, and these results disprove that notion." Well- notice that I used the phrase "provide a quality education". That should not be translated as "the parent does all the teaching themselves from their own store of knowledge".

If people wish to measure educational success with tests such as the SATs and ACTs, then no one need worry about homeschoolers anymore. Biggrin

Ed Vasicek's picture

wbarkema wrote:
Susan R wrote:
1.4 points is not a big difference, but that is not the point. Folks often criticize homeschooling on the basis that parents cannot provide a quality education for their children, and these results disprove that notion.
Two thoughts come from this.
1. I wonder how, and if, this has changed over time. How did homeschoolers fare on the ACT throughout the years. The reason I ask would be that this might be a result of the growth of homeschooling as an education option as opposed to just homeschooling in general. One does not have to dig too deep to understand that the educational materials avaialable to homeschoolers has matured well past what used to be. Many more courses are available as well as a the opportunity for COOP arrangements.
2. I would still contend that most parent are not qualified to educate their children and these results do not disprove that. What they prove is what I stated in my first point. I would contend that the materails available provide that education and the parents provide them the opportunity. I know very few homeschool parents who were able to educate their children in upper math or sciences. What I have witnessed is that the parents are able to purchase the appropriate video teaching (or other materials) that would enable their kids to learn the subject matter. Or, they may even send them to a Jr. College for the advanced classes (which seems to me to be somewhat contradictory to the whole homeschool philosophy). So, while the kids may have their classroom at home, thereby qualifying as a homeschooler, their parent is acting more in an advisory capacity than a teacher.
*****Please understand that these are generalizations and may not reflect the experiences of everyone involved. Also, I am not necessarily anti-homeschool. With that being said, I do believe the definition of what homeschool was and what homeschool has become at this moment in time, is vastly different and should probably be judged as such.

Eh, I don't think your on track in this. Most home schooling parents don't think they are as prepared as a professional educator. But that's not the question. The question is this: can the average parent do a better job of educating his child as one of two or three students than can a public school teacher as 1 of 25?

As far as Jr. College, we did that with our son for advanced math. But that does not defeat the purpose of homeschooling, at least not ours. In a public or Christian school, the student becomes peer-dependent. Taking a class at a Jr. college with young and even middle aged adults does not breed peer dependency.

The parents who used videos seemed pleased. Again, most home schoolers value the moral and spiritual outcome of their children above academics. So the argument is thus:

IF home schooling tends to produce children more prone to embrace Christian beliefs, values, and character, and if they are at least at par with public school children, then it is a good thing. If you read Barna's book, Revolutionary Parenting, Barna avoids the homeschooling issues when talking about parenting that produces Spiritual Champions. But I do think it is fair to say that parents who are as pro-active (and willing to be counter-cultural) as Barna suggests are more likely to be home schooling parents than not.

But there are NO guarantees. I know children reared in homeschooling families that are agnostics, shacking up, etc. And I know kids raised in public schools that are doing great as adults. But I do think the norm is that home schooled kids seem to do better spiritually and morally than Christian kids educated in both public and Christian schools. Perhaps someone does not agree with this?

"The Midrash Detective"

rogercarlson's picture

I agree with your generalizations Ed. I think you are spot on.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

wbarkema's picture

Ed Vasicek wrote:
As far as Jr. College, we did that with our son for advanced math. But that does not defeat the purpose of homeschooling, at least not ours. In a public or Christian school, the student becomes peer-dependent. Taking a class at a Jr. college with young and even middle aged adults does not breed peer dependency.

Pastor Vasicek, I very much have respected your writings and opinions here on SI. However, I would disagree with your statements here. I think that a public school or Christian school a student may have an opportunity to become peer-dependent, but I would argue that your generalization is just that, a generalization. No less than one saying a home schooler is socially inept.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I think we all understand that generalizations are just that, and that some generalizations have a basis in accuracy (traditional classrooms can breed peer dependency) while other generalizations are simple prejudice (blondes are dumb, men are pigs).

I also think we agree that there are no guarantees. Parenting as consistently as possible with Biblical principles is all we can do- the rest is up to our children as they mature and become independent.

As I began this thread, I thought specifically of two families that are having a major struggle with regards to homeschooling. In both families the mothers would LOVE to home educate, but they work part time to pay tuition for Christian schools. They would, in a sense, break even financially if they homechooled.

The dads, however, have heard 'stories' about homeschooling- kids can't get into college, don't know how to function in the 'real world', there will be learning gaps... there are times when it seems that to mention homeschooling brings out all those people who think they are the Little Bluebird of Happiness to come around to tell you every horror story they ever heard about homeschoolers. The moms are frustrated because they see the benefits and have counted the cost, but irrational fears (and IMO a significant percentage of pride) keeps their husbands from approving and supporting home education for their own family.

It makes me wonder why, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, that folks consider homeschooling to be second rate. And if the NEA got its way, and all homeschoolers had to be supervised by certified teachers- who would pay for that? How would the system absorb another 2 million+ students? Are they going to bear the responsibility for the outcome? I don't think so- they don't claim responsibility for the lousy outcomes they have now in public education.

IMO, based on the conversations I've had IRL and online, most of the die hard naysayers are people who are 1) ignorant of the facts 2) have a nefarious agenda. No matter how I slice it, after reading article after article and study after study that clearly states that homechoolers on average do better in every way than public schooled children, I can't imagine why the negatives get so much traction.

For information on the average results achieved in public schools, you can visit http://nces.ed.gov/ The National Center for Education Statistics , and read reports such as http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d08/tables/dt08_123.asp?referrer=report ]Average reading scale scores of 4th-, 8th-, and 12th-graders, by selected student and school characteristics: Selected years, 1992 through 2007 . Please note that the scale is from 0-500 and is based on IRT- Item Response Theory, which is "Test analysis procedures that assume a mathematical model for the probability that an examinee will respond correctly to a specific test question, given the examinee's overall performance and characteristics of the questions on the test.".

Paul Matzko's picture

Most academics agree that the homeschooling movement as a whole was a response to three stimuli (though they may weight them differently): 1) secularization of public schools, 2) decline in educational quality in public schools, 3) desegregation and busing.

Our public school system is a relatively monolithic entity that discourages educational innovation, competition, and diversity, all of which are vital to a healthy school system. Thankfully, parents have an out; they can pull their children out of the schools and educate them themselves (or pay double and send them to financially handicapped Christian schools). It is a testament to how poorly run our public schools are that so many parents are willing to overcome financial and social disincentives to homeschool their children.

But homeschooling is a temporary, nonideal solution. First, homeschooling is temporary because ultimately either homeschoolers will be effectively forced back into the public system (as noted by Susan R.) or school choice reforms will create a serious alternative to either public education or homeschooling. A nationalized school voucher system would revitalize our educational system providing parents with educational options tailored to their preferences. Christian schools would have more money to hire better trained and longer retained teachers. Schools could diversify and big controversies over issues like evolution/creation and sex education would be forgotten as different schools were allowed to adopt different positions in order to compete for students. The marketplace would transform our educational system and mitigate the need for both public schools and homeschooling.

To my second (and probably more controversial) point: homeschooling is suboptimal. Is educating our children a few at a time really the optimal way to do education? Not from a business perspective. Think of the other goods and services that we consume from the marketplace. Why do the overwhelming majority of us no longer grow our own food, spin our own thread, or build our own cars? Because we can't do it as well or as efficiently as someone else (or a group of someone elses). We purchase rather than self-provide goods and services because, in a free market, it is to our mutual benefit to do so. So the optimal educational system allows individuals to pool their resources to hire specialists in a given field to instruct our kids whether that be science, English, or history. These teachers are able to instruct multiple children at once thus creating an economy of scale.

Let me note that homeschoolers already do both of these things within a constrained market. Homeschooling associations and cooperatives provide specialization and some economy of scale. For the same reasons, many homeschoolers choose virtual options such as those provided by BJ LINC and Homesat. In fact, homeschooling is something of a misnomer these days. The mythic homeschooler is a single parent instructing their own children in their living room. Rarely is that an accurate depiction of homeschooling. Homeschoolers have taken advantage of the relative educational freedom that they enjoy to innovate, foster competition, and diversify. The success of homeschooling spells the death knell for public primary education and, ironically, for homeschooling itself.

I've posted on homeschooling at my personal blog some as well:
http://paulmatzko.edublogs.org/2008/12/17/the-obamas-go-to-school/

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Paul Matzko wrote:
Most academics agree that the homeschooling movement as a whole was a response to three stimuli (though they may weight them differently): 1) secularization of public schools, 2) decline in educational quality in public schools, 3) desegregation and busing.

Our public school system is a relatively monolithic entity that discourages educational innovation, competition, and diversity, all of which are vital to a healthy school system. Thankfully, parents have an out; they can pull their children out of the schools and educate them themselves (or pay double and send them to financially handicapped Christian schools). It is a testament to how poorly run our public schools are that so many parents are willing to overcome financial and social disincentives to homeschool their children.


I'm with you there.

Quote:
But homeschooling is a temporary, nonideal solution. First, homeschooling is temporary because ultimately either homeschoolers will be effectively forced back into the public system (as noted by Susan R.) or school choice reforms will create a serious alternative to either public education or homeschooling. A nationalized school voucher system would revitalize our educational system providing parents with educational options tailored to their preferences. Christian schools would have more money to hire better trained and longer retained teachers. Schools could diversify and big controversies over issues like evolution/creation and sex education would be forgotten as different schools were allowed to adopt different positions in order to compete for students. The marketplace would transform our educational system and mitigate the need for both public schools and homeschooling.

Quote:
To my second (and probably more controversial) point: homeschooling is suboptimal. Is educating our children a few at a time really the optimal way to do education? Not from a business perspective. Think of the other goods and services that we consume from the marketplace. Why do the overwhelming majority of us no longer grow our own food, spin our own thread, or build our own cars? Because we can't do it as well or as efficiently as someone else (or a group of someone elses). We purchase rather than self-provide goods and services because, in a free market, it is to our mutual benefit to do so. So the optimal educational system allows individuals to pool their resources to hire specialists in a given field to instruct our kids whether that be science, English, or history. These teachers are able to instruct multiple children at once thus creating an economy of scale.

Doggone it- you lost me. Considering how and when the public school system was birthed, why would home education be suboptimal? IOW, how could the educational methods and opportunities of the past, that produced so many innovators, inventors, and geniuses, be less adequate than the public school system, which is barely over 100 years old? I also have problems with the analogy to industry. The warehousing and mass manufacturing of human beings is precisely why many opt out of the system- to them (and me) economy of scale is the anti-thesis to quality education.

Also- many who began to homeschool because of the reasons listed in the first paragraph have found that there are other reasons to continue- family bonding and character training among them. For instance, the schools in our district have rated Excellent 9 years in a row, and you couldn't pay me to put my kids in those schools. There are no benefits that public education offers us that outweigh the advantages we have experienced.

Also, in many studies I've seen, the classroom gives an outlet for discussion, but the best way to learn is by being mentored. Self direction and tutoring have been SOP for thousands of years.

Quote:
Let me note that homeschoolers already do both of these things within a constrained market. Homeschooling associations and cooperatives provide specialization and some economy of scale. For the same reasons, many homeschoolers choose virtual options such as those provided by BJ LINC and Homesat. In fact, homeschooling is something of a misnomer these days. The mythic homeschooler is a single parent instructing their own children in their living room. Rarely is that an accurate depiction of homeschooling. Homeschoolers have taken advantage of the relative educational freedom that they enjoy to innovate, foster competition, and diversify. The success of homeschooling spells the death knell for public primary education and, ironically, for homeschooling itself.

I'm a bit confused- how could the success of homeschooling be the death of homeschooling?

Heading over to your blog now...

Charlie's picture

Susan R wrote:

Doggone it- you lost me. Considering how and when the public school system was birthed, why would home education be suboptimal? IOW, how could the educational methods and opportunities of the past, that produced so many innovators, inventors, and geniuses, be less adequate than the public school system, which is barely over 100 years old?

In America, there have only been public schools for 100 years. Luther instituted them in Germany in the 1500s. America was a relative latecomer. Also, I think your view of historical practice is skewed. "Homeschooling" was not, to my knowledge, practiced until recent times. Rich (or at least bergher class) people brought tutors into their homes to work with their children. Then around the age of 12-14 they went to "Academies" or "Universities," which were church schools, and later national schools. The common people weren't homeschooling their children; they weren't educating them at all, except in the family trade. The idea of an educated common class stems, I believe, from the Reformation, with the rejection of the Catholic doctrine of "implicit faith." The Reformation fostered public schools for the common people. So, it seems to me that for the average person, public schooling predates homeschooling.

Most of these "geniuses" and "inventors" were not homeschooled, per se. Thomas Jefferson, for instance, went to a private school from an early age and then to William & Mary at 16. Isaac Newton went to a private school. Ben Franklin was an autodidact (which I suppose is similar to homeschooling, but not really). Also, there have been plenty of innovators and geniuses in the last 100 years. I think of Thomas Nash (the mathematician who sparked game theory), Einstein, etc. I think the difference lies in the curriculum used and the rigor of instruction, not group vs. home education.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I am not trying to imply that the educational methods of the past were the same as homeschooling is today- after all, parents didn't have to opt out of a federal institution, there were no mandatory attendance laws, or national standardized testing. Whatever we think about the academic opportunities of the past compared to the present, we can IMO safely say 1) students regularly began to attend universities or apprentice for trades in their early teens, something almost unheard of today 3) the responsibility for a child's educational opportunities resided with the parent/guardian, or with the students themselves, not the gov't 3) there were no comparisons of children to each other against an arbitrary set of national and international standards. There are http://www.autodidactic.com/profiles/profiles.htm many examples of men and women who were self-taught. The parents of these people would today find themselves in Family Court or in jail, and would those children have been better off in an institutionalized setting?

Educational methods and opportunities change over time, but the underlying principles remain the same. Homeschooling has not re-invented the wheel. The tutors of today are often found in books, DVDs, and online, in addition to the common method of hiring an expert, such as a piano teacher or karate instructor. Parent-directed education goes all the way back to Deuteronomy (see 6:7 and 11:19).

My primary question is- why are public schools often considered to be optimal and home education is not, in spite of the evidence to the contrary?

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