The Washington Post reported last week that after years of rapid growth, homeschooling rates seem to be leveling off. Between 1999 and 2012, the homeschooling population surged from 1.7 percent of the overall K-12 school-age population, to 3.4 percent—or approximately two million homeschoolers. Updated homeschooling data from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) indicate that as of 2016, the percentage of homeschoolers held steady at roughly 3.3 percent.
In an article earlier this week, Education Week speculated on some possible reasons for the stabilizing homeschooling rate compared to the previous decade of rapid growth. Some suggestions include more education choice that gives parents additional options for their children’s schooling, slowing growth of the Christian homeschooling movement, and an overall saturated market. As Indiana University education professor Christopher Lubienski told Education Week: “A lot of these movements just reach a natural plateau. It only appeals to certain families. Once all those families are involved, you’ve reached a point of saturation and growth becomes harder then.”
But Brian Ray, Ph.D., president of the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) disagrees. Dr. Ray has closely tracked homeschooling data and trends for the past 33 years. He believes the DOE data are inaccurate. “Something is amiss in the DOE researchers’ findings,” says Ray.
The DOE data relies on completed responses to the Parent and Family Involvement in Education survey. In 2016, 14,075 questionnaires were completed, including 552 from homeschooling families included in the sample. From these limited data, DOE researchers concluded that homeschooling rates have remained constant since 2012.
In an interview with Intellectual Takeout, Dr. Ray explained that homeschooling rates are not only not stagnating they are accelerating, and in some cases skyrocketing.
This article continues at [Intellectual Takeout] Homeschool Slow-Down? Not So Fast