Seventeen year-old Alicia Gibson hadn't taken a standardized test since elementary school. So this year, when she scored well enough on the sat for élite colleges to come courting, any lingering doubts about her academic achievement were put to rest. Not all homeschoolers are wooed by the likes of Cambridge and Yale as Gibson has been, but as a group, they do tend to outperform their peers on standardized tests. For example, the 2001 average ACT score for high school students enrolled in a traditional college prep course of study was 22.1 while homeschooled teenagers scored, on average, 22.7.

Whether it's Alaska, Tennessee, or Pennsylvania, states that track standardized test scores among homeschoolers all report above-average results. The Homeschool Legal Defense Association funded a study of more than 20,000 Iowa test-takers in 1998. "In every subject and at every grade level," Dr. Lawrence Rudner concluded, "homeschool students scored significantly higher than their public and private school counterparts." Even students with learning disabilities make "significant academic gains" at home, according to another researcher, Dr. Steven Duvall.

Still, many homeschooling families are committed to an alternative education paradigm that they believe is inconsistent with institutional analysis. J. Gary Knowles, from the University of Toronto, reported a different set of findings in 1991. Knowles interviewed adults who had been educated at home. Nearly two-thirds reported that they were self-employed, while none was unemployed—suggesting a highly autonomous crowd. Forty-two percent had pursued higher education. An overwhelming majority had a positive view of their homeschool experience, saying it had produced strong family relationships, self-reliance, and the study skills necessary for college.

Related Elsewhere

Also appearing on our site today:

The Little School in the Living Room Grows UpA homeschooling mom visits one of the largest conventions in the country and notes how this form of alternative education has changed—to the chagrin of traditionalists.

Recent Christianity Today articles on homeschooling include:

Children First, Schools NextChristian parents should not face social stigma for removing kids from public schools. (Sept. 5, 2002)
Homeschooling Boosts Socialization |New study finds homeschooled children friendlier and more socially developed. (Nov. 16, 2001)
Teach Your Children WellHearing 'When I was in school' helps our children no more than it helped us. (Oct. 16, 2001)
Two Schools of ThoughtMany parents wonder what's best for their children—Christian or public education. Two Dallas schools suggest an answer. (May 18, 2001)

In Focus on the Family radio broadcasts July 8 (audio) and July 9 (audio), James Dobson reiterated a call from his March 28 program for parents to pull their children out of public schools in some states. Christianity Today coverage of the story includes:

For more articles on schools and homeschooling, see our Education archive.

Our parenting site's Home School Center has helpful hints on deciding what schooling option is best for your children.

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