Out With The Old & In With The New
A Synthesis Essay on Homeschooling
By: Allison Kohler
Brigham Young University Idaho
Is Homeschool surpassing the public school system?
“A study conducted by Michael Cogan of the University of St. Thomas revealed that homeschooled students graduated college at a rate…10% higher than students who came from a traditional public high school…[and] consistently earned a higher GPA” .
Its no secret that fluctuating classroom sizes and limited Federal budget has always put a strain on the Department of Education’s capabilities. Whereas the high academic achievement from homeschooled students has remained consistent over the decades. Significant amounts of research show that the academic results of Homeschool surpass other institutional schools, so what is it about Homeschool that attests to higher graduation rates, higher test scores, and college enrollment?
The average public school learning environment is getting worse and emotional and spiritual development of students goes hand in hand with academic achievement. Author Brian D. Ray of “Academic Achievement and Demographic Traits of Homeschool Students: A Nationwide Study”, conducts research and collects statistics and research from 57 professional sources to address common misconceptions about Homeschool. Ray states that in the majority of studies on Homeschool, the average test scores of homeschooled students are consistently higher than those who attend public school. This issue is similarly evaluated by Michelle Wichers from Southeastern Oklahoma State University as a qualitative study in “Homeschooling: Adventitious or Detrimental for Proficiency In Higher Education”. The author gives a theoretical analysis through observation and research compiled from eight professional sources. The theory that; homeschooled students surpass or at least attain equal academic success than those who attend public or private school, is validated and supported by Whichers accumulated research. So does Homeschool increase the overall potential of a student more than public school? Significant amounts of research imply that Homeschool students surpass the average public school students academic intelligence, because of healthier environment, diligent learning habits, competitive teaching curriculum and adaptable learning pace. Homeschool teaches disciplined study skills and allows students to accomplish more in less time, which leaves more time for family, work, and productive extracurricular activities that better prepare them for a fulfilling life and career.
In Ray D. Brian’s Nationwide study, published on the National Home Education Research Institute website, It states that the overall psychological and academic development of homeschooled students are often better than non-homeschooled students if not equal. Ray observes homeschooled student’s leadership activities, community service, and college graduation rates, to determine their “real world” preparedness. Surprisingly, Ray found that students whose parents were non state certified teachers performed better on tests than students with state certified teachers. The relativity of family income, race, or parental education having an notable effect on the achievement of homeschooled students is inconspicuous. Even though family incomes varied in a broad degree, the largest limitation Ray’s research is the lack of demographic diversity within the samples. Within Rays study, the most predominant characteristic of a Homeschool family, was of caucasian race with a stay at home mom and a working father. Although homeschooled families tend to be a type all on their own, his findings cannot fully represent all families across the USA. In Ray’s research the homeschooled students test results resulted to be even higher than expected. Ray hypothesized the result to be the cause of increased educational effort from the parents or easier standardized tests. Nonetheless the high test results were solid and indisputable. However despite the persuasive evidence supporting the theory that; homeschooling delivers better academic results than public school, Ray states the theory is inconclusive due to limited sample resources.
Whichers gives an analysis of homeschooled students academic achievement and various factors that may contribute to their higher academic proficiency in “Homeschooling: Adventitious Or Detrimental For Proficiency In Higher Education”. Whether homeschooled students were capable of pursuing a college education was the conjecture for the study. Decline of spirituality, and values in society are the primary factors as to why parents change their approach to education. Whichers also notes the common upsides families experience with Homeschool. Different learning methods are analyzed and compared to Homeschool. Whichers determines whether homeschooled students are adequate for higher education by noting average characteristics. The author addresses that many Universities and Colleges actively recruit homeschooled students for their disciplined learning skills. The intellectual capability of homeschooled students is analyzed through their standardized test scores. Whichers argues that the high academic success of homeschooled students go hand in hand with positive family support and belief.
The average test scores from homeschooled students are typically higher if not equal to public school students. One of the major findings from Ray’s study was “the mean scores for every subtest, which are at least the 80th percentile, are well above those of public school students”(27). Homeschooled students scored higher within subjects; Reading, Language, Math, Science, and Social Studies. Ray’s finding is cohesive with the statistics in Whichers article that say, “homeschooled students averaged between the 65th and 80th percentile on…standardized achievement tests” (146). While Ray conducted his own research, Whichers findings were from the National Home School Legal Defense. Both articles however, support the theory that homeschooled students achieve higher academic outcomes than public school students. A possible factor that may attribute to this difference could be learning environment. The first topic Whichers addresses in her article is learning environment and how much it influences the student’s nourishment. The typical public school environment across America has become less than ideal. According to Whichers, most parents turn to Homeschool “[because there is a] decline of moral and spiritual ‘ideologies, values’…[and to] secure a safe place free of drugs, gun violence, and negative peer pressure” (pg 145). School within the home is free of gangs, bullying, drugs, etc. A learning environment absent of bad distractions helps a student focus on their education. A solid family foundation is evident in home schools across both Whichers and Rays statistics. The demographic findings by Ray show that “Almost all Homeschool students (97.9%) are in married couple families”(27). A household with a working father allows for a stay at home mother to teach a student one on one. Since parental/teacher nurturing isn’t stretched across a classroom of thirty others, more time can be taken to focus on a single student. To elaborate, Whichers says what’s “undeniably evident [in] homeschooled parents…[is] the staunch support, commitment and belief in their children’s abilities to achieve”(pg 149). Whether healthier study space and/or parental support solely attest to higher academic achievement is inconclusive, however it undoubtedly plays a part. Competitive teaching curriculum and diligent learning habits make homeschooled students prepared for proficiency in college. Whichers found that,
“Colleges and Universities…actively recruit homeschooled students due to their reading comprehension, their know how to access and use information and their commitment to learning” (pg 148).
Knowing how to navigate course work, take notes, and then effectively use information individually are important skills that aren’t emphasized enough in institutional schools. Homeschooled students embody learning skills such as greater self discipline, time management, and self taught problem solving that is required in college. Ray validates Whichers claims when he states that the homeschooled are “matriculating in college at a rate that is comparable or a bit higher than the general public…[and] performing well in college” College enrollment and preparation are equally attainable for homeschooled students and public school students. Competitive teaching curriculum may be a contributing factor to the advantage that Homeschool students have over public school students. For instance, online school has become an increasingly common resource for families who undertake Homeschool. In Whichers article, Pearson, R. C. states that “homeschooling has flourished with the advent of technology and personal computers…[and] is no longer dependent upon parental education and teaching skills (pg 146)”. Online school allows students to develop computer program and software skills on a regular basis. Moreover tech savvy knowledge is essential for any future career pursuit and frankly useful in everyday life. The analysis of homeschooling by Ray doesn’t indicate whether online school is a main source for learning, but he does address that “98.3%…Homeschool students…have a computer at home that they use” (13). Luckily, because of the resources available online, parents no longer need to be completely depended upon to properly educate their children. This is useful information for households that desire to Homeschool, but don’t have the luxury of a stay at home mother. The rapid rate at which technology is growing creates an ever-changing world and the learning methods must be changed as well in order to keep up. Unfortunately, the rate at which public school makes changes is extremely slow and exhausting.
Homeschooled students are more well rounded than public school students because they have more time for productive extracurricular activities, work, and incorporates family culture in the curriculum. More involvement outside of high school not only makes a well balanced student, it also benefits the community. Ray observed that “the home educated are engaged, at least as much as are others, in activities that predict leadership in adulthood….[and] involved in community service at least as much as others” (Pg 3). It is so important for a student to grow outside the classroom, because almost every decision they make has an affect on their future. Thankfully Homeschool can help bring about an even wider perspective if a student not only uses their spare time productively but uses some of that time to strengthen family relationships. Whichers found that “Cultural awareness strengthened the family bond…because cultural identity was incorporated into their school work”- (Pg 145). A good citizen has respect and love for the community around them, and finds deeper purpose in the way they spend their time. So how does Homeschool allows greater overall balance, and help cultivate a well rounded student? Through one on one instruction! Homeschool addresses a student’s frustrations or questions about their academics faster and allows faster progression. Whichers research supports this when it states “students progressed [as] quickly as the information was assimilated”(Pg. 145-146). Depending on the student’s pace, Homeschool can even commence early graduation. While the U.S. Government’s initiative of “No Child Left Behind” is thoughtful, a one size fits all system suppresses the potential within other students. When instruction pace is based off the slowest student in the class, other students time is wasted. On the contrary the students who don’t ask for help, out of convenience for others, are left behind.
Consider Rosanna, a homeschooled student, who
“Earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture before she turned 18, and…helped…put her husband through college.”
Another homeschooled student, Heath,
“Earned a bachelor’s degree in English at age 15 and a master’s in computer science at 17”.
If it wasn’t for Homeschool neither Rosannah or Heath would’ve been able to accelerate their education and careers at such a pace. The evidence of faster academic achievement from individual instruction is clear to see. There is more opportunity for achievement when there is balance and better use of time.
Considering all the factors, it only makes sense why homeschooled students consistently earn higher GPA’s in college and graduate at a higher rate. As Brian D. Ray says, “More than two decades of research have shown that homeschooling… is associated with relatively high academic achievement” (pg 3). The one size fits all misconception, has created a habitual systematic education, also known as public school. From personal experience, switching to Homeschool was such a positive turning point that completely changed my life. It was my Sophomore year of high school that I decided to make the switch from public school to online Homeschool. With more control over my time, I was able to start the Small business I still run today. Homeschool taught me how to self teach, problem solve, and multi-task, which ultimately gave me a whole different approach to life. In such an ambitiously fast paced world, switching to a higher quality education is necessary in order to keep up. Within public schools across America, increasing student volume postpones updated resources and attentive student cultivation gets tossed to the sidelines. A student’s potential is simply unknown if its suppressed out of convenience to an entire classroom. Perhaps if more able and willing families switched to Homeschool, the government could focus greater resources on the students with circumstances that don’t allow. Environment, instruction and learning pace are all falling behind within public schools. Homeschooled students learn to manage their time wisely for overall balance while public school simply uses up too much time. Consider why
“Only 9% of teens who eat frequently with their families do poorly in school”.
Strong family relationships are essential in preparing a student to live a fulfilling life and career so…