In the USA

I dare say that most home educating parents in this country are aware by now that over two million children in the USA are being educated at home. Here is a piece about this;

I was interested to see the bit in this article about home educated children doing better at the SAT and ACT college entrance tests. This has been touted before as evidence that home education is better for children than schooling, but it is worth looking a little closer at this claim.

Students who wish to attend college or university in the USA sit either the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) or the ACT (American College Testing). These give a rough idea of the academic attainment. There are components for reasoning, maths, science, reading and so on. For the last eight or nine years, students have been specifically asked if they are home educated. This allows us to judge the educational standard of home educated kids as opposed to those who have been to school. Because every college student takes these tests, the results are not biased by self-selection. (Of course they are biased by the fact that only those applying for college take the tests; of which, more later)

The ACT is scored from 1 to 36. The average score is 21 and home educated young people average 23. This is a very slight advantage, but the individual parts of the test reveal something interesting. In reading, the home educated teenagers are very much ahead of their peers. They are roughly level in science and a bit behind in maths. This means that the only advantage that home education seems to have given them is a greater fluency and improved comprehension in reading. This is good, but it should be borne in mind when we are told that evidence from America shows that home educated children are in advance of those who went to school.

Another point to consider is this. The proportion of home educated young people applying to college is lower than the average population. The obvious explanation for this is that those taught at home are less likely to go to college or university. Those that do go to college do better on average than the schooled, but fewer go in the first place.

Because home education is so well established in the USA, it is a good place to look for evidence of its efficacy. The latest research shows that it is certainly no worse than schooling, but probably not a great deal better. This is encouraging and it would be good to see some research conducted in this country