(The Center Square) – The number of children being home-schooled has grown from an estimated 13,000 in 1973 to 5 million, according to a report by the National Home Education Research Institute
The home-school population has grown an estimated 2% to 8% annually, but in 2019 home-schooling began to increase dramatically, the report said.
In March 2021, an estimated 5 million children were being home-schooled in grades K-12 in the U.S., representing roughly 8% to 9% of school-age children. This is an increase from 2.65 million last year and 2.5 million home-schooled students in spring 2019, which represented 3% to 4% of school-age children.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, national home-schooling rates grew rapidly from 1999 to 2012 but remained steady at about 3.3% until 2019.
Nationally, the number of Black home-schoolers doubled from 2007 to 2011 and some families of color chose home-schooling to "escape what they see as poor academic outcomes in schools,” among other factors, the Foundation for Economic Education reported.
By 2019, U.S. Department of Education found that 41% of home-school students were Black, Asian, Hispanic, or non-White/non-Hispanic. And since then, that number continues to grow.
Home-schooling is defined as parent-led home-based education. Regulations governing home-schooling vary by state, with states in the northeast having the most regulations, according to the Homeschool Legal Defense Organization. The organization provides legal guidance to help parents interested in homeschooling.
In Texas, for example, the number of families choosing to home-school in August 2021 increased five-fold from August 2020, according to the Texas Homeschool Coalition.
The group was “literally inundated with calls and emails from thousands upon thousands of families asking how they can begin home-schooling this fall,” Tim Lambert, president of the coalition, said in a statement.
“In the fall of 2020, the number of home-schooling families in Texas had nearly tripled from 4.5% in the spring to 12.3% by October, according to the U.S. Census Bureau,” the coalition reported. A conservative estimate put the number of students being home-schooled in Texas in 2020 at roughly 750,000, a state record.
Last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, the coalition saw a 400% increase in requests from parents to help them process withdrawal requests from public schools. Prior to the state shutdown, between 22,000 and 25,000 Texas students had already been withdrawn from the public school system.
The institute’s research found that home-schooled students typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public school students on standardized academic achievement tests, score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents’ level of formal education or their family’s household income, and typically score above average on the SAT and ACT tests that colleges consider for admissions.