Homeschooling Continues to Grow
According to the latest data available, approximately 1.7 million students are homeschooled in the United States, or 3.4 percent of the total schooling population. Interestingly, the number of Hispanic families choosing to homeschool their children grew to 15 percent from 9.8 percent in 2007. Also, when asked the most important reason for choosing to homeschool their children, 91 percent of parents responded concern for the environment at other schools (safety, drugs, peer pressure, etc.).
The Silver State is known nationally as a haven for homeschooling families. According to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Report Card on American Education, Nevada received a “B” rating for its few homeschool regulations. Families must simply give advance notice to their local school district of their intent to homeschool. There is no curriculum approval or student testing requirements, and students are allowed to participate in the state’s High School Proficiency Exam and college entrance tests like the SAT and ACT. Since homeschoolers do not have to participate in state or district testing, there is no data on homeschooled student performance. Available research, however, suggests homeschooling is more effective at preparing students for higher education than those enrolled in traditional schools. Overall, Nevada ranks twelfth on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
South Carolina, on the other hand, is different story entirely. The state received a “C” rating in the Report Card on American Education, due to its moderate homeschool regulatory burden. Families must receive approval from their local school district, or join a state-approved association that must meet its own criteria for approval. Students must still take the same examinations as those in public schools, and the state does not issue high school diplomas to those who have proven they received a quality education at home. The state also makes it difficult for students who were once homeschooled to re-enter the public school system. With all this regulation, how do the state’s children perform on their report cards? South Carolina ranks 51st in the country, behind the other 49 states and the District of Columbia.
Students in America deserve the best education they can receive, and parents should be the decision-makers as to where their children are best served. Homeschooling is an increasingly more viable option for many families across the country, and states have a responsibility to update their policies to expand school choices.