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From left, Justin Barreras, 10, Adam Barreras, 11, and Garrett Barreras, 8, complete science schoolwork with their mother, Mariel Barreras, before soccer practice in Omaha, Neb. Even as recently as 1980, home schooling was illegal in a majority of states—and didn’t become lawful nationwide until 1993. Army, is one of a growing number of military parents home schooling their children, in part to bring stability amid frequent relocations and long deployments.
School district officials and some homeschooling activists say that without testing requirements and other forms of oversight, it’s impossible to ensure that home-schooled students are receiving a quality education and the skills necessary to transition successfully into the workforce or higher education.
And in some extreme cases, home schooling has been used by parents and guardians to hide physical abuse of children.
But some home schoolers, most prominently the largest and most-organized group, the Home School Legal Defense Association, have pushed back vigorously against regulation efforts, arguing that what might appear to be a single, benign law will lead to government overreach.
How home-schooled students compare academically to their counterparts in public and private schools is anyone’s guess.
There’s anecdotal evidence that concerns over bias and bullying in traditional schools are driving more black families, Muslim families, and families with LGBTQ children to home school, and that, in turn, is fueling a rise in diversity among the home schooling population.
Home schooling is also gaining popularity with military families who frequently move.A large majority of home schooling parents report that they chose to home school their children because of concerns over the environment in their original schools.Ninety-one percent told the NCES that factors such as safety, drugs, or negative peer pressure helped drive them to home school their children.The NCES data on home schoolers is widely considered the most comprehensive available.With the advent of online-course taking and growing school choice options, the boundaries between home schooling and traditional public schooling are becoming more diffuse.But while firm data are hard to come by, experts are confident that home-schooling numbers have surged in the past decade.However, by 2016, that growth appeared to have stalled, according to survey data from the U. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.It’s extremely difficult to pin down academic achievement data on home schoolers, leaving most people with little more than stereotypes of home schoolers dominating spelling bees to go on.Of the research that does exist, almost all of it is qualitative and much of it is politically motivated, according to a review of more than 1,400 academic texts by researchers at Indiana University and Messiah College (a private Christian College in Pennsylvania).It found: Three states—Alaska, Idaho, and Michigan—put the fewest restrictions on home-schooling families, while three others—Washington, New York, and Pennsylvania—have the most regulations, according to the ECS report.The lack of regulations in most states fuels much of the debate around home schooling.