Homeschooling by the Numbers

My dh found an interesting "infographic" about homeschooling statistics. Click the image to enlarge.


Anonymous said…
These numbers are very easy to mis-interpret. There are two big problems:

1) homeschoolers don't have to take the SAT, so there is an enormous self-selection bias, with only the better-prepared students choosing to take the exam.

2) the demographics of the three populations are not matched. The effect that is being observed may be due entirely to the education level and income level of the parents, and have nothing to do with the education method.
Mary said…
I agree with gasstationwithoutpumps' comment #2. This evidence demonstrates correlation but not causality.

The evidence is that the biggest determinant of outcomes for public school students is the value their parents place on education. Parents who care a lot about their children's education tend to do better in whatever educational setting they attend.

Clearly parents who homeschool place a high value on their children's education, and thus one would expect them to do better in general.

As for point #1), nobody has to take the SAT (homeschooled or otherwise), so the self-selection bias is not confined to homeschoolers.
It's hard to construct a controlled experiment on a process that requires self-selected volunteers. One natural experiment that comes close is the change in overall State-level scores that occurs when the policy regime changes to one that is less restrictive or more restrictive of homeschoolers.

Alaska subsidized homeschooolers through it's government-operated correspondence schools. Students in these schools take standardized tests and perform as the statistics above indicate. Aggregate State-level NAEP statistics suggest that this is not sample bias induced by self-selection, since Alaska has (had, last I looked) the highest 90th percentile score (NAEP 8th grade Math) of all US States.

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