Below this are later figures that I have gathered through on-line research and discussion, and with help from officials of various state governments in the United States.
Homeschooling is growing rapidly in the United States, with hundreds of thousands of children now being taught by their parents at home instead of in public or private classroom schools. The private, decentralized nature of homeschooling makes accurate estimates of the numbers of homeschoolers difficult; moreover, some persons estimating numbers of homeschoolers purposely err on the low side, while others prefer to err on the high side. Alfie Kohn, an editor of Psychology Today magazine, reported estimates of the homeschooling population that ranged from an intentionally low estimate "in the low five figures" before 1985, as well as an estimate erring "on the side of hyperbole" from 1988 of one million children being taught in home schools. Alfie Kohn, "Home Schooling," Atlantic, April 1988, pp. 20, 21. Kohn concluded in 1988 that a good estimate current to early 1988 would be 200,000 to 300,000 children taught at home. Michael P. Farris, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), estimated the homeschooling population in the United States at the beginning of 1990, describing a figure of 300,000 children educated at home as one based on "the most conservative estimates," and pointing out that that figure exceeds the number of public school pupils in the states of Vermont, Delaware, and Wyoming combined. Michael P. Farris, "The Berlin Wall and American Education," Teaching Home, February-March 1990, p. 56. The National Home Education Research Institute published data late in 1990 suggesting the number of school age children educated at home may be as high as 470,000. "How Many Home-Schooled Children Are There?," Home School Court Report, Christmas 1990, p. 5. Several earlier writers have suggested that homeschooling would grow even faster in the United States if states had more liberal homeschooling laws; observers generally agree that the number of parents involved in homeschooling is growing, uncertain, and limited at present by fear of legal sanctions. Stephen Arons, Compelling Belief: The Culture of American Schooling (1983), p. 125 (reporting parental fears of prison terms or losing custody of children); John Naisbitt, Megatrends: Ten New Directions Transforming Our Lives (1982), pp. 142-45; John Whitehead & Wendell R. Bird, Home Education and Constitutional Liberties (1984), pp. 18-19; Alfie Kohn, "Home Schooling," Atlantic, April 1988, pp. 20, 21.
Patricia Lines, a former Education Commission of the States staff member and now a federal Department of Education official, has estimated the homeschooled population from time to time. Her article "Estimating the Home Schooled Population," a working paper of the Department of Education published in October 1991, is the most thorough available on this subject. Her abstract said, "Curriculum suppliers, state departments of education, and home school leaders, are the sources used to estimate that between 248,500 and 353,500 school-aged children (K-12) were educated at home in the 1990-91 school year." Ms. Lines's working paper (OR 91-537) should be easily found in any library that subscribes to the ERIC microfiche series. The paper notes that many states have no official reporting requirement, leaving sales of homeschooling curricula or membership in homeschooling organizations as the main data for deriving estimates in those states. Ms. Lines has been researching other issues in recent years. She has published other government documents about homeschooling but has yet to publish a fresh set of numbers to update her path-breaking working paper, which is now rather old data in the fast-growing world of homeschooling. I have recently heard Ms. Lines has gathered much data for a new working paper on the number of homeschoolers in the United States.
The National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) http://www.nheri.org/, which provided some information for the 1991 study by Patricia Lines, conducted a nationwide survey of homeschoolers from 1994 to 1996. According to the recent NHERI study, there were 1.23 million homeschooled students in the United States in the fall of 1996, with an estimated error of measurement of 10 percent. As the NHERI study notes, the number of homeschooled students in the United States exceeds the combined number of schoolchildren in several of the smaller states combined.
Those states that do have official reporting of the number of homeschoolers show steady increases year by year. Increase in the overall number of homeschoolers year by year is certain, but some families give up homeschooling for a time or even permanently, while more and more start. (Reasons for giving up homeschooling range from economic pressures causing both parents to work outside the home, in part to pay taxes for the government-operated schools, and barriers to homeschooler participation in school programs such as sports teams or musical groups unless the children enrol in the government-operated school.) This phenomenon of "churn" in the homeschooled population means that the issue of homeschoolers re-entering the government-operated school system is an one of growing importance for policy makers, who must decide grade placement for homeschoolers entering age-graded schools, allocate "credits" toward graduation, or otherwise apply the bureaucratic regulations of the classroom school system to children who formerly learned outside it.
Steve Deckard, Ed. D.'s book Home Schooling Laws: And Resource Guide for All Fifty States: 8th Edition (1996) reports official figures for the number of homeschooled children reported as of January for several years in Arkansas. Strangely, my own 1998 telephone call to the Arkansas Department of Education found an official who said that the 1997-1998 school year was the first year for which Arkansas was doing a statewide count, by taking reports from local school districts on a rolling basis throughout the school year. (Has the count resumed after a few years of not making the count?) I was told a minimum figure for the 1997-1998 school year over the telephone.
School year official # HMSCed children increase 1985-1986 572 N/A 1986-1987 818 43% 1987-1988 1,138 39% 1988-1989 1,400 23% 1989-1990 2,064 47% 1990-1991 2,736 33% 1991-1992 3,140 15% 1992-1993 4,025 28% 1993-1994 4,742 18% 1994-1995 5,193 10% 1995-1996 (no statistics gathered?) 1996-1997 (no statistics gathered?) 1997-1998 8,200 16% (annualised)
These official figures (if the figures Deckard reports are indeed official figures, as seems likely) from the state of Arkansas suggest Arkansas's annual growth in homeschooling over the six years reported is 25 percent, with a slower growth rate in recent years. The Arkansas official figures also show that the homeschooling population of Arkansas is now approaching 2 percent of the enrolment in public K-12 schools.
Colorado's Department of Education maintains a Web page showing "State Trends in Home Schooling 1991-1997," on which the following figures may be found in a rather confusingly laid out preformatted text table. Deckard's Home Schooling Laws 8th edition confirms the figure for the 1994-1995 school year but refers to it as a figure "as of [February] 1994," implying that the figure applies to the earlier 1993-1994 school year (which in the United States is the only school year one would expect to include the month of February 1994). Deckard also describes the figure as coming from an unofficial count, and the Web page shows figures for each county, suggesting that local units of government rather than the state government gather the figures.
School year official # HMSCed children increase 1991-1992 3,339 N/A 1992-1993 4,390 31% 1993-1994 5,746 31% 1994-1995 6,656 16% 1995-1996 7,567 14% 1996-1997 8,490 12% 1997-1998 8,590 01%
These official figures from the state of Colorado suggest Colorado's annual growth in homeschooling over the six years reported is 17 percent, with a slower growth rate in recent years. The Colorado official figures also show that the homeschooling population of Colorado is now more than 1 percent of the enrollment in public K-12 schools.
Florida has state-mandated reporting of the number of homeschooled children. Families report to local school districts (which are coextensive with counties in Florida, and sometimes have populations larger than United States congressional districts), which then report to the state. The Florida Department of Education issues a "Statistical Brief" reporting both the number of families and the number of children involved in homeschooling. Florida sometimes sends surveys to various samples of the homeschoolers identified by this process to find out additional information about reasons for homeschooling and the like.
School year official # HMSCed children increase 1988-1989 6,035 N/A 1989-1990 7,703 28% 1990-1991 9,992 30% 1991-1992 11,048 11% 1992-1993 14,208 29% 1993-1994 16,623 17% 1994-1995 19,392 17% 1995-1996 22,285 15% 1996-1997 25,930 16%
These official figures from the state of Florida suggest Florida's annual growth in homeschooling is 20 percent, with a slower growth rate in recent years. The Florida official figures also show that the homeschooling population of Florida is now close to 1 percent of the enrolment in public K-12 schools. Interestingly, a publication by Home School Legal Defense Association http://www.hslda.org/ (HSLDA), the February-March 1996 issue of the Home School Court Report, reported an estimate of the number of homeschoolers in Florida much higher than the official state figure. I think this is because some Florida homeschoolers choose to be regulated by the state's statute regulating private (classroom) schools, as many homeschoolers once had no choice but to do, and thus are not counted by the official process of counting homeschoolers in Florida. A newspaper article from the Daytona Beach, Florida News-Journal, "Home Schooling a Growing Trend," reports that about 40 percent of Florida homeschoolers register as private schools under different Florida statutes, meaning the figures above are a substantial undercount.
The Georgia Department of Education receives reports on non-public school enrolment from local school systems. The data include both children in "home study programs" and homeschooled children enrolled in private schools (which are often referred to as "umbrella schools" among homeschoolers). The figures below reflect the total enrollment in all varieties of home study programs.
School year official # HMSCed children increase 1988-1989 3,755 N/A 1989-1990 4,826 29% 1990-1991 5,581 16% 1991-1992 6,581 18% 1992-1993 8,299 26% 1993-1994 10,521 27% 1994-1995 12,600 20% 1995-1996 15,353 22% 1996-1997 17,481 14%
These official figures from the state of Georgia suggest Georgia's annual growth in homeschooling is 21 percent. The Georgia official figures also show that the homeschooling population of Georgia is more than 1 percent of the enrollment in public K-12 schools.
The Indiana Department of Education receives reports from homeschoolers under Indiana's homeschooling law. The department says these reports are "'ballpark' figures at best" and that the figures do not purport to be an accurate count of all homeschooled children in the years noted below. Deckard's Home School Laws 8th edition reports a lower figure for November 1995 than would be expected by interpolation of the official figures below, which I received directly from the department.
School year official # HMSCed children increase 1989-1990 1,148 N/A 1990-1991 1,462 27% 1991-1992 1,965 34% 1992-1993 2,533 29% 1993-1994 3,326 31% 1994-1995 4,880 47% 1995-1996 4,430 -09% 1996-1997 5,428 23%
These official figures from the state of Indiana suggest Indiana's annual growth in homeschooling is 30 percent. The Indiana official figures also suggest that the homeschooling population of Indiana is less than 1 percent of the enrolment in public K-12 schools, but this is very likely an undercount, as the Indiana official documents show is possible.
Statewide figures from Kentucky, passed on to me by an E-mail correspondent, show steady growth in homeschooling in that state. Deckard reports that official figures are kept only at the local level.
School year official # HMSCed children increase 1992-1993 3,072 N/A 1993-1994 3,993 30% 1994-1995 5,225 31% 1995-1996 6,206 19% 1996-1997 7,313 18%
The homeschooling population of Kentucky is now above 1 percent of the state's public school enrolment. These official figures suggest Kentucky's annual growth in homeschooling is 24 percent.
An official from Maine, Buzz Kastuck, instantly answered what must be a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) in his office during an early-morning phone call. The official count of homeschoolers in Maine over the past fifteen years has been:
School year official # HMSCed children increase 1981-1982 3 N/A 1982-1983 10 233% 1983-1984 23 130% 1984-1985 133 478% 1985-1986 217 63% 1986-1987 241 11% 1987-1988 415 72% 1988-1989 703 69% 1989-1990 1,162 65% 1990-1991 1,566 35% 1991-1992 1,965 25% 1992-1993 2,465 25% 1993-1994 2,904 19% 1994-1995 3,280 13% 1995-1996 3,340 (preliminary) 02%
The fourteen-year trend in Maine (based on the preliminary figures for the most recent year) is an annual rate of homeschooling growth of 65 percent, with a slower growth rate in recent years. The number of homeschooled children in Maine is more than 1 percent of the school-aged population of the state.
The Washington Post newspaper recently reported a series of official figures counting registered homeschoolers in seven Maryland counties, namely Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Howard, Montgomery, Prince George's, and St. Mary's counties.
School year official # HMSCed children increase 1991-1992 1,798 N/A 1992-1993 2,041 14% 1993-1994 3,142 54% 1994-1995 3,577 14% 1995-1996 4,403 23% 1996-1997 6,219 41%
The homeschooling population of those Maryland counties is now above 1 percent of the public school enrollment for the same counties. These official figures suggest the annual growth in homeschooling in those counties is 28 percent.
Minnesota, the state of the United States in which I live, is the first state for which I obtained official figures on the number of homeschoolers. Minnesota's homeschooling statute requires notice of intent to Homeschool filed with local school districts, which in turn pass on their counts of homeschooled children to the state. The official figures from the Minnesota Department of Children, Families, and Learning for earlier years were reported in the April 26, 1996 Star Tribune: Newspaper of the Twin Cities on page B10. I later obtained from the department figures for the most recent two years, including in the total number of homeschoolers a small number of homeschoolers reported as "not in compliance" with one aspect or another of Minnesota's homeschooling law (a figure school districts are required to gather by statute). I do not know whether figures for earlier years include that (small) category of homeschoolers not in compliance. My own family appears nowhere in Minnesota's official figures, as my oldest child is still below Minnesota's compulsory instruction age.
School year official # HMSCed children increase 1987-1988 2,322 N/A 1988-1989 2,900 25% 1989-1990 3,538 22% 1990-1991 4,418 25% 1991-1992 5,086 15% 1992-1993 6,149 20% 1993-1994 7,671 25% 1994-1995 9,135 19% 1995-1996 10,519 15% 1996-1997 12,168 16% 1997-1998 13,081 08%
Minnesota now has more than 1 percent of its schoolchildren in homeschooling. These official figures suggest the annual growth in homeschooling in Minnesota is 19 percent, with a slower growth rate in recent years.
The Montana Office of Public Instruction compiles figures on the non-public school enrollment (both private classroom schools and home schools) for that state. The figures I have directly from the department are largely confirmed in Deckard's Home Schooling Laws 8th edition. The homeschooled student numbers are remarkably high for that sparsely populated state.
School year official # HMSCed children increase 1990-1991 1,446 N/A 1991-1992 1,659 15% 1992-1993 1,957 18% 1993-1994 2,334 19% 1994-1995 2,910 25% 1995-1996 3,159 08% 1996-1997 3,323 05% 1997-1998 3,799 14%
The number of homeschooled children in Montana exceeds 2 percent of its public K-12 enrollment. These official figures suggest the annual growth in homeschooling in Montana is 15 percent.
Official figures from the Nebraska Department of Education report the number of "Rule 13" religious exemption filings received by January of each year. The figures for 1986-1990 reported in the Lines 1992 working paper disagree with the figures I have recently received directly from the department, for reasons I will have to explore with Ms. Lines when I next contact her. (Perhaps there are other categories of homeschoolers not reported in the data I received from the department?) The figures below are the figures I received directly from the Nebraska Department of Education.
School year official # HMSCed children increase 1985-1986 939 N/A 1986-1987 1,376 47% 1987-1988 1,637 19% 1988-1989 1,638 00% 1989-1990 1,907 16% 1990-1991 2,147 13% 1991-1992 2,604 21% 1992-1993 2,931 13% 1993-1994 3,323 13% 1994-1995 3,823 15% 1995-1996 4,137 08% 1996-1997 4,407 07%
Nebraska has more than 1 percent of its schoolchildren in homeschooling. These official figures suggest the annual growth in homeschooling in Nebraska is 15 percent, with perhaps a slower growth rate in recent years.
Nevada's figures come to me from an on-line newspaper article, "Home-schoolers say 'the public education system has failed us'," partly confirmed by another Web page, and partly from Deckard's Home Schooling Laws 8th edition. Official figures are apparently gathered by counties.
School year official # HMSCed children increase 1985-1986 262 N/A 1986-1987 365 39% 1987-1988 (not reported) 1988-1989 670 35% (annualized) 1989-1990 682 02% 1990-1991 792 16% 1991-1992 861 08% 1992-1993 1,028 19% 1993-1994 1,988 93% (Clark County) 671 N/A 1994-1995 2,438 23% 1995-1996 (Clark County) 1,466 48% (annualized) 1997-1998 4,000 18% (Clark County) 1,700 08% (annualized)
These figures show that about homeschooled children number about 1 percent of public school enrolment in Clark County, above 1 percent state-wide. These figures suggest the annual growth in homeschooling in Nevada is 26 percent, with uncertain growth trends in recent years both state-wide and in Clark County, one of the fastest-growing counties in the United States.
From friends on the Internet, I heard of the following official figures from New Hampshire, which one year didn't count homeschoolers as the state department of education was being reorganized. These official numbers don't include homeschoolers who don't register with the state.
School year official # HMSCed children increase 1988-1989 556 N/A 1989-1990 771 39% 1990-1991 790 02% 1991-1992 1,338 69% 1992-1993 1,661 24% 1993-1994 2,039 23% 1994-1995 2,604 28% 1995-1996 3,025 16% 1996-1997 (no statistics gathered) 1997-1998 3,333 05% (annualized)
These figures show that more than 1 percent of New Hampshire's school-age children are homeschooling. These official figures suggest the annual growth in homeschooling in New Hampshire is 22 percent, with a slower growth rate in recent years, and an unknown effect of changes in the reporting requirements in the most recent year or two.
My figures for New York state are official figures that come from a Web page maintained by the New York State Union of Teachers, except for figures for the 1996-1997 school year, which came by mail from the New York State Education Department but which exclude New York City figures.
School year official # HMSCed children increase 1990-1991 4,989 (w/o N.Y.C.) N/A 1991-1992 6,299 (w/o N.Y.C.) 26% 1992-1993 8,248 30% 1993-1994 10,069 22% 1994-1995 11,473 14% 1995-1996 12,577 09% 1996-1997 12,996 (w/o N.Y.C.)
These figures show that less than 1 percent of New York's school-age children are homeschooling, a proportion the union Web page described as "insignificant." This may be because the homeschooling regulations in New York state are some of the most restrictive in the United States, prompting even well-known homeschooling advocates to avoid the regulations by declining to register with the state at all. These official figures suggest the annual growth in homeschooling in New York (in regions outside New York City) is 17 percent.
The figures for North Carolina come from a database Web page maintained by the North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education, the official reporting authority.
School year official # HMSCed children increase 1985-1986 803 N/A 1986-1987 1,572 96% 1987-1988 1,756 12% 1988-1989 2,325 32% 1989-1990 3,206 38% 1990-1991 4,127 29% 1991-1992 5,556 35% 1992-1993 6,947 25% 1993-1994 8,927 29% 1994-1995 11,222 26% 1995-1996 13,801 23% 1996-1997 15,785 14%
These figures show that more than 1 percent of North Carolina's school-age children are homeschooling. These official figures suggest the annual growth in homeschooling in North Carolina is 31 percent.
School year official # HMSCed children increase 1988-1989 3,716 N/A 1989-1990 4,578 23% 1990-1991 5,543 21% 1991-1992 6,370 15% 1992-1993 7,495 18% 1993-1994 8,857 18% 1994-1995 10,493 18% 1995-1996 10,764 03% 1996-1997 11,264 05% 1997-1998 11,682 04%
These figures show that about 2 percent of Oregon's school-age children are homeschooled. These official figures suggest the annual growth in homeschooling in Oregon is 14 percent.
School year official # HMSCed children increase 1988-1989 2,152 N/A 1989-1990 3,541 65% 1990-1991 4,844 37% 1991-1992 6,450 33% 1992-1993 8,468 31% 1993-1994 11,027 30% 1994-1995 13,385 21% 1995-1996 15,457 15% 1996-1997 17,861 15%
These figures show that about 1 percent of Pennsylvania's school-age children are homeschooling. These official figures suggest the annual growth in homeschooling in Pennsylvania is 30 percent, with perhaps a slower growth rate in recent years.
The South Carolina State Department of Education sent me figures for the most recent school year after my telephone inquiry in 1998.
School year official # HMSCed children increase 1997-1998 7,052 N/A
These official 1997-1998 figures show that about 1 percent of South Carolina's school-aged children are homeschooled. Depending on what school year Deckard's figure of 2,192 for "1995" applies to, the growth rate in recent years has been either 48 percent or 79 percent.
I obtained some more figures about homeschooling growth from a friend on the Microsoft Network. He lives in Texas, a very populous state, and one without an official count of homeschooled children. He writes, "As one of the founding board members of the Southeast Texas Home School Association (SETHSA) in Houston, Texas in 1986, I have been intimately familiar with the growth of home schooling and the challenge of estimating the home school population. For background, SETHSA started with 12 support groups in 1986 with an average membership of about 25-30 families. We have now grown to more than 100 support groups with an average membership of 60-75 families. We estimate that we serve in excess of 7,000 families. This probably makes us one of the 10 largest home schooling organizations in the United States (now only the 2nd largest in Texas behind the North Texas Home Educators which has over 120 support groups - after only 5 years).
"I also serve on the boards of the state organizations in Texas and we have the 'fun' task of estimating how many home schoolers there are in Texas. (Texas is one of the states where home schoolers do not have to officially register). The extrapolations we've done might be of interest. From discussions among the leaders of the regional associations in Texas we have determined that we serve a combined audience of about 30,000--40,000 families in Texas." He then makes some assumptions about the number of homeschooling families who are not in support groups, and the number of homeschooling children per family. I'll make some more conservative assumptions, estimating that there are 40,000 Texas homeschooling families with two children each that are of school age (not the same as compulsory schooling age, but of such age that they would be enrolled in public school if not homeschooled). That's at least 80,000 homeschooled children in Texas alone, more than 2 percent of the school-age population in Texas. The February-March 1996 issue of Home School Court Report reports an estimate of more than 90,000 homeschooled children in Texas. There have since been much higher estimates of the homeschooling population in Texas, which I do not find credible.
As my friend on MSN notes, "It is also interesting to look at the growth rate that we've seen over the last number of years. Obviously SETHSA has grown substantially since 1986 (360 families => 7,000 families)." That, according to my spreadsheet calculation, is an annual growth rate of 39 percent. In any event, it does appear that the Texas rate of growth in homeschooling is faster than Minnesota's annualised growth rate of 21 percent or Pennsylvania's of about 30 percent. My friend adds, "The growth has accelerated the last few years so the calculations are not exact. . . . Two years ago HSLDA estimated a 20% annual growth rate for the nation, others say they have easily seen a 40% growth rate in their area." As will be seen from the various state figures, a recent national growth rate estimate of about 15 percent (at a time when the number of school-age children in general is increasing) better fits the facts shown by official statistics.
Vermont keeps a count of both the number of families homeschooling and the number of children in each family homeschooling. The Vermont of homeschooled children per homeschooled family is about 1.5 to 1.8 most years, but has been as high as 1.9 on occasion. Figures below, as in all other tables, are the number of homeschooled children.
School year official # HMSCed children increase 1981-1982 92 N/A 1982-1983 121 32% 1983-1984 210 74% 1984-1985 176 -16% 1985-1986 185 05% 1986-1987 310 68% 1987-1988 372 20% 1988-1989 428 15% 1989-1990 540 26% 1990-1991 627 16% 1991-1992 818 30% 1992-1993 1,042 27% 1993-1994 1,199 15% 1994-1995 1,437 20% 1995-1996 1,527 06% 1996-1997 1,577 03% 1997-1998 1,638 (preliminary) 04%
These figures show more than 1 percent of Vermont's school-aged children are homeschooled. These official figures suggest the annual growth rate in homeschooling in Vermont is 20 percent, with a slower growth rate in recent years.
Virginia homeschoolers can make use of either of two main state statutes when homeschooling. One is a general homeschooling statute, the other a religious exemption from compulsory school attendance statute. Local school authorities in Virginia are the counties or the various independent cities and towns. In former years, some of those local school authorities were reluctant to grant exemptions under the religious exemption statute. Thus the proportion of homeschoolers registering under the religious exemption statute is not an accurate measure of the proportion of Virginia homeschoolers who may be homeschooling for religious reasons in whole or in part. The Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Education began gathering figures about the religious exemption in a later year than when it began gathering figures about the general homeschooling statute, so the data series below begins with figures reporting the number of children registered under the general statute, followed by one year (1993-1994) in which both the aggregate figure of all homeschooled children and the number of children using the general statute are shown, followed by recent years showing only the aggregate figure of all homeschooled children registered with local school authorities.
School year official # HMSCed children increase 1991-1992 4,558 (w/o relig.) N/A 1992-1993 5,842 (w/o relig.) 28% (this category only) 1993-1994 8,454 (7,009 w/o) 20% (above category only) 1994-1995 9,796 16% (aggregate figures) 1995-1996 10,862 11% (aggregate figures)
These figures show about 1 percent of Virginia's school-aged children are homeschooled. These official figures suggest the recent annual growth rate in homeschooling (under both Virginia statutes pertaining to homeschooling) is about 13 percent.
School year official # HMSCed children increase 1987-1988 4,045 N/A 1988-1989 4,696 16% 1989-1990 5,536 18% 1990-1991 7,046 27% 1991-1992 8,528 21% 1992-1993 10,727 26% 1993-1994 13,584 27% 1994-1995 15,918 17% 1995-1996 18,074 14% 1996-1997 19,923 10% 1997-1998 19,945 00%
These figures show that about 2 percent of school-age children in Washington state are homeschooled. These official figures suggest the growth rate in homeschooling in Washington State is 17 percent, with a slower growth rate in recent years.
Wisconsin, the state I lived in as a school-age child the year I first heard of homeschooling, has an official state count of homeschoolers.
School year official # HMSCed children increase 1985-1986 1,941 N/A 1986-1987 2,821 45% 1987-1988 3,624 28% 1988-1989 4,779 32% 1989-1990 5,869 23% 1990-1991 6,661 13% 1991-1992 7,805 17% 1992-1993 9,401 20% 1993-1994 11,483 22% 1994-1995 13,458 17% 1995-1996 15,632 16% 1996-1997 16,924 08%
These figures show that almost 2 percent of Wisconsin's school-age children are homeschooling. These official figures suggest the annual growth in homeschooling in Wisconsin is 24 percent, with a slower growth rate in recent years.
Taking the Patricia Lines high estimate of 353,500 and applying that as an initial figure for the 1990-1991 school year, and then taking the HHERI low estimate of 1,107,000 homeschooled students for the beginning of the 1996-1997 school year (choosing estimates in this way to show the lowest rate of growth in the national total of homeschoolers), the six-year rate of growth in the number of United States homeschoolers is 21 percent. That calculated aggregate national rate of growth based on estimates of the national population of homeschoolers is plausible, in view of the rates of growth observed in states with official counts of homeschoolers.
To put that in perspective, according to the United States federal government there were 43,476,000 children enrolled in public (i.e., government-operated) elementary and secondary schools in October 1993. That means Lines's lower 1990 estimate of 248,500 homeschooled children already was more than 0.5 percent of the total enrolment in government-operated K-12 schools. The relevant age group of school-age children is growing rapidly as children of Baby Boom parents reach school age, but the current number of homeschoolers in the United States appears to be almost 2 percent of the nationwide school-age population, with more growth credibly expected. State-by-state figures compiled in July 1995 show that eighteen states and the District of Columbia all had lower school-age populations during the 1993-1994 school year than the 1990 estimated number of homeschooled children nationwide.
Thus we may conclude without fear of contradiction that in the United States homeschooling is a phenomenon as big as the total schooling effort of many states, and that it's still growing steadily. The New York Times reported this phenomenon in a widely reprinted article. (I saw a "localized" version of the New York Times piece in the Star Tribune: Newspaper of the Twin Cities of November 30, 1995. Official figures from Minnesota and Wisconsin were cited in that article.) Friends from other states, responding on various computer networks, report steady local growth in their areas.
When I first posted this Web page, I wrote, "I have not seen any official figures nor any scholarly estimates of homeschooling populations outside the United States." I now have. Roland Meighan of the University of Nottingham School of Education, a long-time observer of the alternative education movement in Britain, wrote a fascinating article, "Home-based Education Effectiveness Research and Some of its Implications," in volume 47 of Educational Review (November 1, 1995), beginning at page 275. Meighan sums up the international trends in his abstract by writing, "In the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere, a quiet revolution has been taking place. More and more families are taking the option of home-based education in preference to school attendance. The evidence supports only two generalisations about this development. The first is that families display considerable diversity in motives, methods and aims. The second is that they are usually very successful in achieving their chosen aims."
Professor Meighan's article notes an estimate from the time of his article of over 1 million homeschoolers in the United States. He points out that there were as few as twenty families known to be homeschooling in Britain in 1977, but as of the time of his November 1995 article, there were almost 10,000. Indeed, the London Evening Standard newspaper reported on Monday, January 15, 1996 that 15,000 families are estimated to be homeschooling in Britain, which is a 50 percent increase over the year before. It is thought that 100 children a month may be leaving Britain's state schools to begin homeschooling.
Australia, according to Meighan's article, has 20,000 homeschooling families, including those using a two-way radio system for tutoring children in the remote Outback areas of the country. A member of CompuServe from Australia, in a public message, wrote in early 1996, "Thought some of you may be interested in stats I just received from the Home Schooling Unit of the New South Wales Board of Studies. According to them, as of 10 January 1996, there were 1566 homeschooling students from 975 families registered for homeschooling." The Statesman's Year-Book 1994-95, a superb collection of international statistics, reports that in 1991 there were 746,417 students in government-operated primary and secondary schools in the state of New South Wales, and also 284,330 students in primary and secondary "non-government schools," so as the homeschooling member of CompuServe who lives there commented, "there is still room for a little more growth ." An E-mail to me in late June 1997 from a different Australian correspondent passed on the news that a homeschooling association in Western Australia estimates that there are 3,000 homeschooled children in that state of the Australian commonwealth. In 1993 in Western Australia there were 222,451 students in government schools and 74,288 students in nongovernmental schools, suggesting that homeschooled children make up about 1 percent of the school-age population in that state.
Canada also has a large and growing homeschooling movement, with a number of homeschooled children nationwide "around 60,000," according to an article in the September 1, 1997 issue of MacLean's magazine. That figure would suggest about 1 percent of Canadian school-age children are homeschooled, a proportion consistent with provincial figures I am still gathering. Canada enjoys an excellent World Wide Web site with pan-Canadian information about homeschooling
http://www.flora.ottawa.on.ca/homeschool-ca/, put together as a cooperative effort by homeschoolers from coast to coast in that vast country.
New Zealand's number of homeschooled children as of early 1996, according to the New Zealand television program Sixty Minutes (not the same program as the program in the United States with the same name), was about 7,000 school-age children. That figure is more than 1 percent of New Zealand's school-age population.
The legal and social environment surrounding homeschooling varies substantially from country to country, but interest in homeschooling appears to be growing all over the world. Ken Schoolland, in his book Shogun's Ghost, and Pat Montgomery, writing in The Learning Edge, the newsletter of the Clonlara Home Based Education Program, both report nascent, growing interest in homeschooling in Japan. Indeed, Japan, where school attendance has long been compulsory, on the Prussian model, for children from ages six to fifteen, now has books about homeschooling in the local language. I am now attempting to apply my reading knowledge of Japanese to homeschooling research by requesting those books through interlibrary loan.
A reader of this page tells me by E-mail that Norway had its first national conference on homeschooling from June 28 to June 30, 1996 in Ullvik, Hardanger. About 50 participants from all parts of the country, including a member of Norway's parliament, a lawyer, and others were expected to speak at the conference as of the time he wrote. In 1993 and 1994 two "entrepreneur" families had much trouble with local governments because they homeschooled. For the moment the legal right to homeschool is acknowledged by Norway's national department of education. According to the reader who wrote to me, only twenty families in Norway are homeschooling now. But the numbers are fast increasing, and are expected to increase more rapidly since Norway lowered its compulsory school attendance age from seven to six in 1997. That change is unpopular with the Norwegian public and thus prompts interest in homeschooling. The Social Democratic party spokeswoman for education in the parliament said on 17 June 1996 that she wants a change in the law so that the general right to homeschool will be eliminated, replaced by a narrow possibility to homeschool if the government finds it necessary! My thanks to the reader who reported this news from the homeland of many of my ancestors.
The issue of homeschooling is "hot" in Norway. I would appreciate hearing from people in other places what the local trends are where they live. I would especially like to see more year-by-year series of official counts of homeschoolers, from places where those are available. As Roland Meighan aptly wrote, "The basic question of 'will the families cope?' has given way to 'why do they usually cope so easily and so well?' Home-based education effectiveness research demonstrates that children are usually superior to their school-attending peers in social skills, social maturity, emotional stability, academic achievement, personal confidence, communication skills and other aspects. The lessons of this research, as to how the schooling system could be regenerated, are only just beginning to be appreciated. It questions all the fundamental assumptions underpinning schooling, as well as pointing to ways of regenerating and reconstructing education systems in general and schools in particular, in the direction of more flexibility, suitable for the post-modernist scene."
I would be delighted to hear from any reader, anywhere in the world, who has comments on how homeschooling fits into other cultures and other places. One sign of growing Homeschool interest is the number of visits the School is Dead, Learn in Freedom! TM Web site gets from from people around the world interested in education reform and learning in freedom. This site has been visited by people logging on to the Internet from countries all over the world, including the United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bahrain, Bermuda, Brunei, Brazil, Canada, Switzerland, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Egypt, Spain, Finland, France, Georgia, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, India, Iceland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Kuwait, St. Lucia, Latvia, Macau, Mexico, Malaysia, Nicaragua, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Sweden, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Thailand, Turkey, Taiwan, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Venezuela, and South Africa. Of course this site has also been visited by people from all over the United States of America, which is where I'm from and where the server for this site is located. Please let me know if you are visiting from another country or territory
Muslim Home Education Network Australia ( MHENA ) is a united group of Muslim Homeschooling mothers, with experience in all of the learning stages up to stage 5, from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds. Read More