Case Study: Academic Profile of Home Schooling

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[. . .] ..the general public is beginning to have a positive...attitude about...home education." A June 1994 NBC news/Wall Street Journal poll indicated that among "the general public only 28% favor home schooling over traditional schools" (Clark, 1994), and, in a Family Research Council poll taken in September 1993, the public was evenly split at 44% each as to whether home schooled students learn as well as publicly schooled students (Clark, 1994). More current data is presented later in the practicum. A possible indicator of the prevalence of the home education movement is that the College Board has assigned codes for use by home educators when taking the SAT/PSAT (Lambert, 1996).

Home Schooling vs. Traditional Educations Methods

Home schooling, an alternative educational setting to public schools, despite its documented success in educating children and its legality in all 50 states, continues to be viewed with skepticism and as a threat to public educators' job security. Many public school administrators seem to adhere to a rather common impression that only people who are under-educated and overly religious choose to home school their children. Yet, the literature indicates that parents cite a variety of reasons for their decision to home school their children. Despite the feelings of many public educators, home schooling has come of age.

Nationwide, more than 500,000 children are home schooled; this figure represents approximately one percent of all school-aged children and about 10% of those privately schooled (Lines, 1991). Lines assumes this 199091 estimate to be modest, because data were collected from three independent sources: state education agencies, distributors of popular curricular packages, and state and local home school associations. Assuming that all of these figures represent the tip of the iceberg, Lines used surveys of home schoolers to estimate how many remained unidentified.

Assuming the average home schooling experience lasts only 2 years, as many as 6% of all families with children could have some home schooling experiences (Lines,1996). Lines (1996) reports estimates of between 691,000 and 750,000 children for 1995-1996. Ray (1996) reports estimates of 1.2 million students being home schooled. However, in 1999, further studies conducted by Ray yielded estimates between 1.2 and 1.8 million children being home schooled.

Home Schooling Methodology

Home schooling families are a very diverse group. How they educate is even more diverse than why they choose to home school. One area of interest is how parents, especially those not trained in pedagogy, select materials, choose appropriate approaches and strategies, teach the various subjects, including reading, and assess the learning of their children. Recently, California has issued a warning to home schoolers stating that they must possess a professional teaching credential in order to continue to home school; however, this is not a national mandate. Unlike public school teachers, home schoolers are not subject to curricular mandates and nor are they evaluated on successful student learning in terms of grades and test scores.

However, the state of Maryland mandates regular instruction in the studies usually taught in the public schools to children of the same age. The state of Maryland also requires home schoolers to submit a portfolio for review on a frequent basis to illustrate the child's work, the materials used, workbooks, worksheets, creative materials, and tests. The portfolio review does not certify that a child has mastered all of the educational outcomes or requirements that are designed for any particular grade level in the public schools. Portfolio reviews conducted while students are registered in traditional schooling and calculated while registered in home instruction do not verify grades, grade placement, clock hours, or credits for transfer into the public school curricula.

The State of Maryland has significant legislature governing home schooling including:

House Bill 2260: Tax credit for home schoolers

House Bill 2518: Requiring home schoolers to prove "quality education"

House Bill 2788: Special education services to home schoolers

House Bill 2675: Participation in extracurricular activities

Senate Bill 103: Home schools defined as nonpublic schools

House Bill 337: Home school tax credit

Senate Bill 292: Tax credit for home schoolers

Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 20: Establishing a committee to study home schooling

House Bill 261: Equal access for students in home study programs

Legislative Document 160: Creates less restrictive home school procedures

Senate File 99: Protecting privacy of home school data

House Bill 220: Procedural changes to home school law

Assembly Bill 668: Allows home schoolers access to outstanding scholars recruitment program scholarships

Home schoolers tend to assess their programs in an informal manner. They may opt to enroll in a nonpublic school and provide instruction through correspondence courses under the supervision of a bona fide church organization.

Conducting qualitative research for this case study will prove to be valuable since this investigation requires a methodology capable of accurately describing the character of the home schooling environment. The qualitative researcher best gains knowledge of this phenomenon under study through participant observation in the natural setting (Bogdan & Biklen, 1992; Jacob, 1998; Kilgore, 1998; Lincoln & Guba, 1985). This study will include observing home school participants in their natural home environments, examining the methodology used in selecting and teaching reading, interviewing the home schoolers, and collecting work samples used for instruction. The data will be analyzed to draw conclusions; to determine relationships, patterns, and themes; and to report the findings in writing by describing and analyzing what has been seen.

Summary

Home education, though not for every family, appears to be a viable education alternative for some families (Canon, 1992). The legitimacy and acknowledgement of home education as an educational alternative has gradually been accepted. When a parent decides, for whatever reason, to provide home instruction for their children, they must make many choices. These choices include deciding on the appropriate instructional materials to be used, teaching strategies, motivational techniques, and an evaluation to determine the success of the learning process. Despite the challenges presented by undertaking home schooling, then end result can be an excellent learning experience for the child.

Chapter 2

Focus of the Practicum

Problem Setting

This study will be based on in-home assessment of several students using qualitative research methods to accurately assess the character of the home schooling environment. This study will include observing home school participants in their natural home environments, examining the methodology used in selecting and teaching reading, interviewing the home schoolers, and collecting work samples used for instruction. The data will be analyzed to draw conclusions; to determine relationships, patterns, and themes; and to report the findings in writing by describing and analyzing what has been seen.

Many parents are choosing an alternative way to educate their children and many of those parents choose home schooling. Home school parents often say that it gives them more time to schedule field trips and school while also allowing them to concentrate on their child's strengths or weaknesses at the child's own pace. Parents who teach their children at home are not required to have a teaching certificate.

However, they must meet a requirement of hours spent in study and should maintain records of the student's academic progress. Parents are not required to be certified by the state but they are required to keep certain records. What is interesting to note there is that home schoolers out-perform their public school peers by 30 to 37 percentile points across all subjects (Ray, data for 1994-95 school year).

Home schooling is a flourishing phenomenon within the United States. A recent study conducted by Dr. Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) provides some answers. This study, Strengths of Their Own: Home Schoolers Across America, collected data on 5,402 home school students from 1,657 families for the 1994-95 and 1995-96 academic years. Nearly 6,000 surveys were sent to home school families using a variety of sources and methods. Some were mailed directly to families (both those randomly selected from numerous mailing lists as well as longitudinal participants from Ray's similar study in 1990). Others were blindly forwarded to families through the leadership of independent home school support groups and networks operating in every state. Unquestionably, this research represents the largest and most comprehensive study on home schooling ever undertaken (Ray, 1997).

In a collaborative effort to provide solid answers to common questions about home schooling, HSLDA and Dr. Ray have highlighted some of the key findings of this study. This study demonstrates that home schooling works. It suggests that direct parental involvement and hard work are the keys to educational success. Regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status, parent education level, teacher certification, or the degree of government regulation, the academic achievement scores of home-educated students significantly exceed those of public school students. Home school students are fully engaged in society and experience a wide range of opportunities outside the home. They are smart users of both technology and their time. And graduates are equipped to pursue their aspirations -- work or college. Contrary to the speculative opinions of critics, the facts from this study demonstrate success. (Ray, 1997)

This study will examine home schooling in Prince… [END OF PREVIEW]

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