“How does a homeschool education compare to a traditional education academically?”
Homeschooled children test above average regardless of income, race or parent’s level of education. For instance, the Washington Homeschool Research Project has analyzed the SAT scores of homeschooled children in Washington State since 1985. One significant achievement of homeschooled children is that the National Merit Scholarship Corporation has chosen significant numbers of homeschooled high school seniors as semifinalists.
Then, of course, there is the anecdotal evidence. Homeschoolers have frequently been the winners in spelling bees and other national events.
What about getting into college?
A growing number of colleges and universities around the United States are admitting homeschoolers including prestigious universities like Harvard and Yale. Some, like UC Riverside, actively recruit homeschoolers. The application process may be a bit different. They may decide to submit samples of their work, letters of recommendation, and CLEP and Stanford Achievement Test scores. The bottom line is that, if a homeschooler wants to pursue post-secondary education, they can certainly do so and do so within some of the finest universities.
Are parents capable of teaching?
A half century of educational research has indicated a total lack of any significant relationship between the teacher’s certificate and the pupil’s achievement. The evidence is in. Families from all walks of life and all educational backgrounds are homeschooling successfully.
What about subjects a parent can’t teach?
It would be a rare teacher who could teach every subject, and parents are no different. Parents often serve as facilitators, helping the child to find the resources necessary for learning. There are many creative ways to tackle unfamiliar or difficult subjects. There are companies specializing in outstanding learning materials for homeschoolers. Some homeschoolers collaborate with other families. Another parent might have the strength you lack or you can jointly hire a tutor. Some use community resources—people, programs, and places. You can always jump in alongside your children and learn with them. What a great life lesson for kids if they learn that learning is lifelong.
What about testing?
Testing is not required of private schools in California. Testing services are available for families who desire to have their children tested. Some homeschooling parents choose to do so, while others believe that when you teach your children one-on-one, their understanding of the material is readily apparent.
If kids aren’t tested, what guarantee is there that they are learning?
Public schools require testing, but enrollment in public school does not guarantee that any learning is taking place. We have compulsory attendance not compulsory education laws. In states where testing is required of homeschoolers, they usually score in the 80th percentile or above.
The validity of standardized tests has been questioned by many educators and researchers. Because they are multiple-choice, they don’t measure the ability to think or create. Many critics call for replacing standardized testing with “performance assessments.” A performance assessment requires evaluating the student’s actual work which might include writing samples, teacher observation, science experiments, etc. Performance assessments are exactly what parents naturally use in evaluating the progress of their homeschooled children.
What kinds of curricula are available?
There is a whole spectrum of curriculum resources available to homeschoolers. New products are being developed all the time. There are also resources to help you decide what to teach and when to teach it. Homeschool conferences like ours have vendor halls where you can look through curriculum before making a purchase, and talk to an experienced salesperson, or perhaps even the person who wrote it!
- Patricia M. Lines, “Home Schooling,” ERIC Digest, no. 95, April 1995, EDO-EA-95-3.
- Ray, Brian “Home Education across the United States,” p. 6.
- “Semifinalists in the 1998 Merit Scholarship Competition,” National Merit Scholarship Corp., Evanston, Ill., 1997, pp. 14-92.