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Homeschooled children increased from 13K in 1973 to 5M in 2020, report finds

The homeschool population has been growing an estimated 2% to 8% annually, but it exploded beginning in 2019.

Updated: August 30, 2021 - 11:45pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The number of homeschooled children has grown from an estimated 13,000 in 1973 to 5 million, according to a report by the National Home Education Research Institute

The homeschool population has grown an estimated 2% to 8% annually, but in 2019 homeschooling began to increase dramatically, the report said.

In March 2021, an estimated 5 million children were currently being homeschooled in grades K-12 in the U.S., representing roughly 8% to 9% of school-age children. This is an increase from 2.65 million last year and 2.5 million homeschooled students in spring 2019, which represented 3% to 4% of school-age children.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, national homeschooling rates grew rapidly from 1999 to 2012 but remained steady at around 3.3% until 2019.

Nationally, the number of black homeschoolers doubled from 2007 to 2011 and some families of color chose homeschooling to "escape what they see as poor academic outcomes in schools,” among other factors, the Foundation for Economic Education reported.

By 2019, U.S. Department of Education found that 41% of homeschool students were Black, Asian, Hispanic, or non-White/non-Hispanic. And since then, that number continues to grow.

Homeschooling is defined as parent-led home-based education. Regulations governing homeschooling vary by state, with states in the northeast having the most regulations, according to the Homeschool Legal Defense Organization. The organization provides legal guidance to help parents interested in homeschooling.

In Texas, for example, the number of families choosing to homeschool in August 2021 increased five-fold from August 2020, according to the Texas Homeschool Coalition.

The group was “literally inundated with calls and emails from thousands upon thousands of families asking how they can begin homeschooling this fall,” Tim Lambert, president of the coalition, said in a statement.

“In the fall of 2020, the number of homeschooling families in Texas had nearly tripled from 4.5 percent in the spring to 12.3% by October, according to the U.S. Census Bureau,” the coalition reported. A conservative estimate put the number of students being homeschooled in Texas in 2020 at roughly 750,000, a state record.

Last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, the coalition saw a 400% increase in requests from parents to help them process withdrawal requests from public schools. Prior to the state shutdown, between 22,000 and 25,000 Texas students had already been withdrawn from the public school system.

The institute’s research found that homeschooled students typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public school students on standardized academic achievement tests, score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents’ level of formal education or their family’s household income, and typically score above average on the SAT and ACT tests that colleges consider for admissions.

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