A couple of months ago I noted with great excitement and not a little perplexity the release of new NCES data on homeschooling numbers. Well, now NCES has released its 2009 “Condition of Education” report, and chapter 6 gives us the full NCES data on homeschooling. Read it here. A few of the highlights:
As their earlier report noted, NCES estimates that 1.5 million children were being homeschooled in 2007, up from 1.1 million in 2003. This increase means that 2.9 % of the school-age population is now homeschooling.
Of these 1.5 million homeschoolers, 84% homeschool full-time, while the rest attend some school (from 1-25 hours a week). In 2003 the percent of full-time homeschoolers was 82%.
36% of parents cited religious or moral reasons as their most important motivation for homeschooling (83% listed this as important). 21% said disappointment with school environment was most important (87% said it was important). 17% said disappointment with academic instruction in school (73%). 7% cited the opportunity to provide non-traditional education (65%). 6% cited a child’s physical, mental, or other special needs (32%). 14% cited other reasons, including increased family time, travel, tight finances, or distance from schools as their most important reason (32% as important).
African American homeschool rates have dropped precipitously since 2003 according to the NCES estimates. In 2003 NCES estimated 103,000 black homeschoolers, or 9.4 % of all homeschoolers. In 2007 they estimate only 61,000 African American homeschoolers, or 4% of the homeschooling population.
In contrast, Hispanic homeschooling shows dramatic growth, from 59,000 in 2003 (5.3 %) to 147,000 in 2007 (9.8%) There was also a significant rise in other minorities homeschooling (91,000 in 2003 to 141,000 in 2007). The net result is that despite the drop in African American homeschooling the percentage of homeschoolers who are white hasn’t changed much at all–it’s still around 77%.
In 1999 and 2003 the ratio of boys and girls homeschooling was about the same. But the 2007 data shows a pretty pronounced gender shift toward a more female homeschool population (58% of all homeschoolers).
Earlier data had always shown a much higher percentage of two-parent households represented in homeschooling than in the general population, consistently around 80%. In 2007 the discrepancy is even more pronounced, with 89.4 % of homeschoolers coming from two parent homes.
When comparing the 1999, 2003, and 2007 figures one notes a consistent shift in homeschooling from lower-income to higher-income families. In 1999, 31% of homeschooling families made $25,000 or less annually. In 2007 only 16% did. On the other side, in 1999, 17% made $75,000 or more, while in 2007, 33% did.
In a subsequent post I’ll explain a bit more how NCES arrives at these figures. For now I’ll just say that their sampling method, while not perfect, is far and away the best data we have on homeschooling and other education-related topics.