Testing homeschool students to see how they compare to their public school peers?
Bring it on, say the organizers of a nationwide study aiming to measure the academic achievement of homeschooling families in 2023.
“We continue to see increasing attacks on homeschooling and our freedoms,” says Homeschool Freedom, which is leading the initiative. “We know that quality research is a powerful tool in protecting homeschool freedom.”
Critics argue homeschooling may cause students to fall behind their public-school peers, citing a lack of regulations for homeschool students compared to government schools.
Homeschooling advocates usually counter these concerns by citing statistics from peer-reviewed studies, which show homeschoolers typically outperform public school students on standardized academic achievement tests.
However, the research showing these results needs to be updated since they’re more than a decade old, says Homeschool Freedom.
“This collaborative nationwide study is an opportunity to collect current data that will help continue the important work of defending homeschool freedom,” its website explains.
Survey information to remain confidential
The research project brings together multiple organizations, including the National Home Education Research Institute, Family Protection Ministries and BJU Press Homeschool.
As homeschool families have sometimes suffered unlawful invasions of privacy from government schools, researchers want participants to know their responses will be kept confidential.
“Names will not be used in reports or publications of the study,” the website says. “The survey only takes 5-10 minutes to complete per student.”
Although study participation is welcome, homeschooling families are not required to do so. Because homeschool laws vary by state, some states do not mandate any form of standardized testing.
Once the study is complete, organizers plan to present their findings to influencers such as legislators, policymakers, and scholarly journals.
Multiple ways to participate
Homeschool students have found challenges in access to standardized testing, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.
College placement exams such as the ACT or PSAT are typically available at public schools, but these have sometimes declined to host students who weren’t enrolled in the district.
However, this study has catered to homeschoolers by allowing them to sign up for testing individually, with a homeschool support group, or with a state or regional homeschool organization.
For example, Midwest Parent Educators serving homeschoolers in Kansas and Missouri is offering the opportunity to participate with a 10% testing discount using its affiliate link.
“This is a multi-state research study,” the nonprofit writes on its website. “We are excited to be working with other homeschool families, homeschool support groups, and state homeschool organizations.”