The most extensive study ever conducted on home schooling reveals that the movement has more students than had previously been believed and shows no signs of peaking.

The new report, "Strengths of Their Own: Home Schoolers Across America," also indicates that the educational level attained by the parent teaching the child at home makes little difference in the scholastic achievements of the children.

The 103-page report is published by Brian D. Ray, president of the Salem, Oregon-based National Home Education Research Institute. Data were collected on 5,402 pupils. Ray reported that 1.2 million students were educated at home during the 1996-97 school year, up from an estimated one million two years ago (CT, July 17, 1995, p. 50).

"The growth rate appears to be 15 percent per year," Ray says. "The main motivations for home schooling haven't changed much." The movement appears entrenched: 89 percent plan to continue through high school.

Patricia Lines, policy analyst with the U.S. Department of Education, concedes that the movement has grown to roughly 2 percent of 50 million students. But Lines cautions that the study only includes students whose parents volunteered the information—and those students might have tested as well in public schools. Lines also says, "Home schooling is not for everybody, especially parents who have limited social and financial resources." The median family income for home schoolers is $43,000, according to Ray's report.

All but 5 percent of the income in home schooling households is earned by fathers, although 16 percent of the mothers are working outside the home—an average of 14 hours per week. Mothers do the teaching 88 percent of the time.

MARKS OF THE MOVEMENT: The study reaffirms beliefs ...

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