High-Flying Home-Schoolers

A recent Detroit News article, inappropriately titled "Lax home-school laws put kids at risk," states that current Michigan law prevents us from finding out how well home-schooled students are doing academically. Home-schoolers in Michigan aren't required to take standardized tests, as they do in other states, but Michigan home-schoolers sometimes take them voluntarily. The results from these tests are very impressive. 

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A report by the National Home Education Research Institute released this year found that home-schooled students score 34 to 39 percentage points above the average standardized test score. This puts the home-school national average score at about the 80th percentile in language arts, math, social studies and almost 90th percentile in reading. 

More impressive than these test scores is the study's analysis of the variables that impact standardized test scores, such as parents' level of education and family income. Like students in conventional schools, home-schoolers with parents who have college degrees and higher income perform better than homeschoolers whose parents have no college degrees and lower family income. But the difference between the two is much smaller than in conventional schools, and based on these two variables, the home-schooled students that would be predicted to perform the most poorly still outrank the national average. For example, home-schoolers whose parents do not have college degrees still tested in the 83rd percentile. 

Compare these results with math scores released recently showing that Detroit students performed slightly better than if they had simply guessed, or with the fact that Michigan's cut scores for standardized tests are among the weakest in the nation, and it becomes a safe bet that the vast majority of home-schoolers in Michigan are outperforming their peers in conventional schools.