FRASER INSTITUTE STUDY

Home schooling improves academic performance and reduces impact of socio-economic factors

 

Release Date: October 04, 2007-  

 

The Fraser Institute is an independent research and educational organization based in Canada. Its mission is to measure, study, and communicate the impact of competitive markets and government intervention on the welfare of individuals. To protect the Institute’s independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research.

TORONTO, ON—Home schooling appears to improve the academic performance of children from families with low levels of education, according to a report on home schooling released today by independent research organization The Fraser Institute.
 
“The evidence is particularly interesting for students who traditionally fall through the cracks in the public system,” said Claudia Hepburn, co-author of Home Schooling: From the Extreme to the Mainstream, 2nd edition and Director of Education Policy with The Fraser Institute.
 
“Poorly educated parents who choose to teach their children at home produce better academic results for their children than public schools do. One study we reviewed found that students taught at home by mothers who never finished high school scored a full 55 percentage points higher than public school students from families with comparable education levels.”

The peer-reviewed report, co-written with Patrick Basham and John Merrifield, builds on a 2001 study with new research and data. It examines the educational phenomenon of home schooling in Canada and the United States, its regulation, history, growth, and the characteristics of practitioners, before reviewing the findings on the academic and social effects of home schooling.

Hepburn said evidence clearly demonstrates that home education may help reduce the negative effects of some background factors that many educators believe affects a child’s ability to learn, such as low family income, low parental educational attainment, parents not having formal training as teachers, race or ethnicity of the student, gender of the student, not having a computer in the home, and infrequent usage of public libraries.
 
“The research shows that the level of education of a child’s parents, gender of the child, and income of family has less to do with a child’s academic achievement than it does in public schools.”

The study also reports that students educated at home outperform their peers on most academic tests and are involved in a broad mix of social activities outside the home.
 
Research shows that almost 25 per cent of home schooled students in the United States perform one or more grades above their age-level peers in public and private schools. Grades 1 to 4 home school students perform one grade level higher than their public- and private-school peers. By Grade 8, the average home schooled student performs four grade levels above the national average.

Hepburn said a growing body of new research also calls into question the belief that home schooled children are not adequately socialized.

“The average Canadian home schooled student is regularly involved in eight social activities outside the home. Canadian home schooled children watch less television than other children, and they show significantly fewer problems than public school children when observed in free play,” she said.

The report concludes that home schooling is not only a viable educational choice for parents, but can also be provided at a much lower cost than public schooling. The report notes that in the U.S., home schooling families spend less than $4,000 per year on home schooling while public schooling in the U.S. costs about $9,600 per child.

“Canadian and American policymakers should recognize the ability of parents to meet the educational needs of their children at home, without government involvement,” Hepburn said.
 
“While home schooling may be impractical for many families, it has proven to be a successful and relatively inexpensive educational alternative. It merits the respect of policy makers, the attention of researchers, and the consideration of parents.”