Hundreds of thousands of American families have sacrificed to achieve the level of success now experienced by home-educated students.
There's mounting evidence that educating children at home is mainstream in U.S. education.
The growth of parent-led, home-based education, combined with the academic and societal data confirms the rewards reaped by homeschooling.
There were an estimated 1.9 million to 2.5 million children in kindergarten through grade 12 home educated during 2008-2009 in the United States, reports Dr. Brian D. Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute in Oregon.
About 15 percent of homeschool families are non-white/nonHispanic, Ray has found.
The Home School Legal Defense Association in Virginia reports the number of home-educated students has grown 7 percent a year for the past decade, said Ian Slatter, spokesman for the advocacy group.
Andrew Coulson, director of the Cato Institute's Center for Education Freedom, said the Internet has boosted the nation's flourishing homeschooling movement. Parents have immediate access to information about textbooks and a huge network of like-minded people to help them and their children.
The tremendous growth of homeschooling is only surpassed by the strong record of accomplishment for these students.
The NHERI conducted the most comprehensive assessment ever of children educated at home. The study was released by the Home School Legal Defense Association last year.
Ray's examination of 11,739 homeschooled students for the 2007–08 academic school year produced findings that were consistent with previous studies on homeschool academic achievement. The 2009 analysis shows homeschoolers, on average, scored 37 percentile points above public school students on standardized achievement tests.
Prior NHERI investigations reveal:
* The home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. (The public school average is the 50th percentile; scores range from 1 to 99.)
* Homeschool students score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents' level of formal education or their family's household income.
These levels of academic achievement now allow home-educated students to be actively recruited by colleges as high school seniors, NHERI has found.
These high school students could be better prepared for college because parents take advantage of dual credit programs, which are prominent in many states. Dual credit programs allow high school students to also gain college credits prior to high school graduation. One study in 2005 showed that in the 2002-03 academic year, 71 percent of all U.S. high schools offered dual credit programs. About 1.2 million students were enrolled in these programs, but enrollment is not specific to students educated at home.
Because families have been committed to homeschooling for a few decades, many college graduates should be productive adults. The data also demonstrates that, according to NHERI.
The research on adults who were home educated shows that they:
* Participate in local community service more frequently than does the general population.
* Vote and attend public meetings more frequently than the general population.
* Go to and succeed at college at an equal or higher rate than the general population.
Homeschoolers are now professionals in various fields, business owners, entrepreneurs or soldiers serving in the military.
That will justifiably bring satisfaction to many people because parents make financial sacrifices in good economic times and bad as Americans have experienced. The recession has not hurt homeschooling, though.
Perhaps that is because it's common for many families who educate their children at home to be one-income families. If both parents must work, they find a way to stay committed to home education.
"The motivation behind homeschooling is not money. The motivation for homeschooling is sacrifice for what's best for your children," said Hilda Lantz, who lives in the suburbs of Grand Rapids, Mich. and has educated her sons at home for 14 years.
Parents who lead one-on-one tutoring of their children at home willingly make financial sacrifices. Some states with large budget deficits may need to willing make financial sacrifices.
Coulson said state legislators would be wise to provide tax incentives to parents who educate their children at home because it saves taxpayer money.
The NHERI reported the average cost per homeschool student is $546 while the average cost per public school student is $5,325.
Coulson said some states have a cost per pupil that is double that amount, which should motivate elected officials to help parents keep their children out of public schools.