Authored for ALEC.
Last month, ALEC released its annual Report Card on American Education. The report ranks states’ education policy based on six areas, including state academic standards; charter school laws; private school choice programs; overall teacher quality; digital learning opportunities; and the regulatory burden placed on homeschool families.
The study, which included research conducted by the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), gave 11 states the top grade of “A” in the area of homeschool regulatory burdens. Those states are Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Texas.
The number of states earning an “A” grade expanded this year, from 10 to 11, with the new addition of Iowa. On the 2013 report card, Iowa received a grade of “C” for its regulatory burden on homeschoolers.
These results represent a welcome victory for academic achievement. As HSLDA notes from research conducted in 2008, homeschoolers have achieved all of the benchmarks of success that have for years eluded the administrators of traditional public schools.
Homeschooling families spend less to achieve better outcomes.
Students whose families reported spending $600 or more on them annually achieved test scores placing them in the 89th percentile of all students nationally; students from families who reported spending less than $600 annually scored in the 86th percentile. Traditional public schools in New York, where homeschooling is discouraged, spend an average of $21,489 per student only to achieve mediocre outcomes.
Homeschooling outcomes are equal across income demographics.
Students from households earning less than $35,000 annually averaged test results in the 85th percentile; students from households earning more than $70,000 annually averaged in the 89th percentile.
There is no gender gap, and quality of the teacher makes little difference.
Homeschooled girls achieved an average score in the 88th percentile against the 87th percentile for boys. Whether parents were certified to teach did not make a difference either, with pupils from parents having no teaching certificate achieving scores in the 88th percentile against those of certified parents receiving scores in the 87th percentile.
In total, two million students are homeschooled each year, and are growing annually at a rate of 5 percent. Homeschooled students continue to achieve exceptional academic results even as they experience rapid growth in numbers. There is reason to hope that states will continue to remove regulatory burdens for families choosing to homeschool.
States with the highest regulatory burdens this year included Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.