Just a Little Data

Yeah, I don’t make my decisions based on random statistics either, but given the recent hubbub over Robin West’s article in Philosophy and Public Policy, I enjoyed reading these.

Easy to say that the study (from August 2009) is biased because it comes from a pro-homeschool source, of course. But here are some fun findings:

The median income for home-educating families ($75,000 to $79,999) was similar to all married-couple families nationwide with one or more related children under age 18 (median income $74,049 in 2006 dollars; or roughly 78,490 in 2008 dollars).

Homeschool parents have more formal education than parents in the general population; 66.3% of the fathers and 62.5% of the mothers had a college degree (i.e., bachelor’s degree) or a higher educational attainment. In 2007, 29.5% of all adult males nationwide ages 25 and over had finished college and 28.0% of females had done so.

So not quite the uneducated, cycle-of-poverty-perpetuating trailer-dwellers of the West article.

And then this (take with a grain of salt of course):

Homeschool student achievement test scores are exceptionally high. The mean scores for every subtest (which are at least the 80th percentile) are well above those of public school students.

There are no statistically significant differences in achievement by whether the student has been home educated all his or her academic life, whether the student is enrolled in a full-service curriculum, whether the parents knew their student’s test scores before participating in the study, and the degree of state regulation of homeschooling (in three different analyses on the subject). [emphasis mine]

There are statistically significant differences in achievement among homeschool students when classified by gender, amount of money spent on education, family income, whether either parent had ever been a certified teacher (i.e., students of non-certified parents did better), number of children living at home, degree of structure in the homeschooling, amount of time student spends in structured learning, and age at which formal instruction of the student began. However, of these variables, only parent education level explained a noticeable or practically significant amount of variance, 2.5%, in student scores; the other variables explained one-half of 1% or less of the variance.

I don’t want to emphasize the comparative aspects of the findings. The point isn’t that homeschoolers are so much better than non-homeschoolers. (I don’t see, for example, numbers adjusted for economic/parent education variables when comparing achievement scores.) The point is that we are just fine, thank you.

A few more posts on the West article, if you are keeping up:

A Tings Thinking Corner
La opción de educar en casa
Life Learning, by Wendy Prisnitz

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1 Comment

Filed under In the News, Why Homeschool?

One response to “Just a Little Data

  1. cool. could have used some of these stats today when talking to a skeptic who only just managed to be polite. she bit her tongue about homeschooling but couldn’t stop a tirade against unschooling … having not heard the second half of my sentence, “we’re homeschoolers, well unschoolers really.” at least I hope she hadn’t heard it. I always feel so sorry for rude people.

    I wonder if we’d get the same stats in NZ.

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