Homeschooling gives students an ‘academic edge’: ‘non-partisan’ study
MONTREAL, Quebec, September 13, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Homeschooling — as long as it’s structured or follows a curriculum — can provide kids with an academic edge, according to a new study from Concordia University and Mount Allison University.
“Structured homeschooling may offer opportunities for academic performance beyond those typically experienced in public schools,” says lead author Sandra Martin-Chang, a professor in the Concordia Department of Education.
Though numerous studies have shown the benefits of homeschooling, Martin-Chang claimed that theirs was one of the first “nonpartisan” studies to investigate home education versus public schooling.
Published in the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, the authors compared 74 children living in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick: 37 who were homeschooled versus 37 who attended public schools. Participants were between 5 and 10 years old and each child was asked to complete standardized tests, under supervision of the research team, to assess their reading, writing, arithmetic skills, etc.
“Although public school children we assessed were performing at or above expected levels for their ages, children who received structured homeschooling had superior test results compared to their peers: From a half-grade advantage in math to 2.2 grade levels in reading,” says Martin-Chang. “This advantage may be explained by several factors including smaller class sizes, more individualized instruction, or more academic time spent on core subjects such as reading and writing.”
The research team also questioned mothers in both samples about their marital status, number of children, employment, education and household income. The findings suggest that the benefits associated with structured homeschooling could not be explained by differences in yearly family income or maternal education.
The study included a subgroup of 12 homeschooled children taught in an unstructured manner. Otherwise known as unschooling, such education is free of teachers, textbooks and formal assessment.
“Compared with structured homeschooled group, children in the unstructured group had lower scores on all seven academic measures,” says Martin-Chang. “Differences between the two groups were pronounced, ranging from one to four grade levels in certain tests.”
J. Michael Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association, told LifeSiteNews that the study “demonstrates that when parents are given the opportunity and freedom to educate their children, those students excel. The evidence is clear.”
Despite its documented advantages, numerous jurisdictions in the U.S. and Europe have moved to curtail homeschoolers’ freedoms. Families in Sweden and Germany have been forced to leave the country, and in perhaps the most high-profile case, Dominic Johansson was taken away from his parents and only allowed to see them for one hour every five weeks.
“This newest study from Canada confirms what we know from numerous studies before - that homeschoolers negate any skepticism by succeeding academically,” said Smith. “They outperform those in public school in every area of study. Teachers know that smaller class sizes and more individualized education methods work best. This is where homeschooling excels.”
Approximately one percent of children in Canada are homeschooled. A study published earlier this year estimated that over 2 million children are homeschooled in the U.S.
As a result of the homeschooling movement’s explosive growth and homeschoolers’ documented academic success, post-secondary institutions are increasingly targeting them, with some even appointing “homeschool liaison and recruitment specialists” to serve incoming freshmen and their families.