About 2 and a half years ago I posted all the available data provided by the various states that keep records on homeschooling enrollment figures (I recognize that some homeschoolers don’t like the term “enrollment,” but for the states that’s what this is). I explained then that this information is notoriously unreliable for at least three reasons: 1. data collection is haphazard, varying widely by state, by district within a state, and from year-to-year, 2. the figures provided by some states don’t account for homeschoolers who may choose to do so by, say, registering as private schools, and 3. some homeschoolers simply refuse to register with the state and hence are not included in these tallies.
Despite these shortcomings I was interested at the time in this statewide data because of a discrepancy I was noting between my own subjective impressions of a slowing down of homeschooling growth here in Pennsylvania even as the National Center for Education Statistics had just come out with their latest estimates showing a dramatic increase in homeschooling nationwide since 2003.
My first effort to generalize from this state data led me to conclude that as of 2007, eight states were seeing growth, six were basically flat, and three were seeing declines. I also noted that for the most part the states that were seeing growth were “Red,” or Republican-leaning states, and those that were either holding steady or declining were mostly “Blue,” or Democrat-leaning.
Well, now that two more years have passed, what has happened?
You can see for yourself by clicking on the link below, which provides first the raw numbers by state, then this data in the form of line graphs, and finally the sources used in compiling this data, with links provided where possible. I’d like to thank here my workstudy student Kathy Balmer who put all of this together for me:
Of the 23 states for which we were able to get data, only 19 had figures more recent than 2008. Of those 19, the trends since 2008 are as follows:
10 States have seen increased enrollments since ’08, most of them modest. 6 States have seen decreases, also mostly modest. 3 States have basically held steady. Bottom line: not a lot of change since ’08.
If you take the longer view, though, for the 15 states for which we have consistent data for every year from 2000 to 2009, twelve of them show increases over the decade, and four of them (FL, GA, NC, and VA) show profound, amazing growth. Only three states (CO, PA, and WA) show declines over the same 10 year period, declines that don’t come anywhere close to matching the gains in the other states. Bottom line is that to the degree that this data is reliable, it does basically corroborate the NCES data that shows continued growth in homeschooling. Beyond that we can perhaps say that this growth seems to be happening most strongly in the Southeast. And that’s about the extent of it so far as I can make out. If anybody else notices a pattern or generalization from this data that I missed, please feel free to note it in the comments!