From an historical perspective, homeschooling one’s child is nothing either new or even particularly exotic. For indeed, history is filled with people who have been taught primarily by their parents in the context of their own home. In spite of this, many in today’s contemporary Western society are baffled by the re-emergence and steady growth of this this trend.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there were approximately 850,000 homeschooled students in 1999. By 2008, the homeschooled population had climbed to somewhere between 2 to 2.5 million students across America. Assuming the more conservative figure of 2 million students, this suggests a decade-long trend in which homeschooling has grown by an annual rate of 10 to 12 percent each year. In that same span of time, the general population of the United States has grown at a rate of 1.3% per year.
So what is causing this disproportionate and dramatic rise in home education?
Perhaps some of the answers can be found in the largest related research study to date. In 1998, the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation gathered data from over 20,000 homeschooled students. These students were asked to take one of two standardized tests that are widely used to measure the success of public education. The data was than analyzed by an impartial third party, whose own children attended public schools, thus ensuring that the results did not exhibit a bias towards home education.
What this study revealed was actually rather shocking.
On average, the typical home schooled student in grades 1-4 performs at one grade level higher than their public and private school counterparts. It is particularly interesting to note the comparison to private school students, for that negates the argument the homeschool students are being measured against the broader cross-section of society that includes many economically, socially, and intellectually disadvantaged kids. By comparing homeschooled students to private schools, the economic and social disadvantages are almost completely eliminated, as are the intellectual disadvantages.
Even more interesting is what happens over the course of the next four years of the student’s life. Beginning in the fifth grade, the performance gap begins to widen. By the time the typical homeschool student reaches the eighth grade, he or she is now performing four grade levels above the national average. This superior academic performance also seems to carry over to the standardized tests often taken by high school students. In 2002, homeschooled students scored an average of 22.5 on the ACT, while the national average was just 20.8.
Perhaps most intriguing for those that question the homeschooling movement were the findings related to teaching credentials. The study found no statistically significant difference in the performance of homeschooled students whose parent possessed a teaching certificate versus those whose parent did not possess such certification. In other words, within the home environment, there appears to be no correlation between teacher certification and student performance.
So the question is: why do we, as a society, tend to fear the homeschooling movement? What is it about educating a child at home that seems to threaten and concern so many?
 This data was culled from the National Center for Education Statistics study published in 2006 covering the year 2003.
 This data was taken from the National Home Education Research Institute lead by Dr. Brian Ray.
 If a student was in grades K-8, he or she took the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS). If a student was in grades 9-12, he or she took the Tests of Achievement and Proficiency (TAP).
 Most private schools in the United States do not accept students with pronounced intellectual handicaps.
 This data was obtained through the Homeschooled Legal Defense Association.