By Brian Ray, Ph.D.
A new study, released by the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI, www.nheri.org), finds Black homeschool students outscoring White public school students on achievement tests. It also reveals key motives for African American parents choosing homeschooling for their children.
This study is the first of its kind, delving into the quickly growing world of Black families engaging in parent-led home-based education.
“The Black homeschool children’s high achievement test scores were remarkable. Parents without teaching certificates helping their children from a traditionally low-achieving minority group excel this way should cause all educators and social advocacy groups to take special note,” said Dr. Brian Ray, the researcher and president of NHERI.
He studied Black families and children in them, nationwide, who had been homeschooled more than half their school-age lives. Parents completed surveys about their motivations for homeschooling and the students took standardized academic achievement tests.
These Black homeschool students’ achievement test scores were quite high, all things considered. They scored at or above the 50th percentile in reading (68th), language (56th), math (50th), and core (i.e., a combination of reading, language, and math; 58th) subtests. By definition, the 50th percentile is the mean for all students (of all ethnicities/races) nationwide in institutional public schools.
Comparing Black homeschool students to Black public school students yields notable findings. While controlling for gender of student and family socioeconomic status, being homeschooled had an effect size in reading scores of about 42 percentile points higher than if public schooled. For language, being homeschooled had an effect size of about 26 percentile points higher than if public schooled. For math, being homeschooled had an effect size of about 23 percentile points higher than if public schooled.
The parents’ five most-often stated reasons for homeschooling follow:
- “prefer to teach the child at home so that you can provide religious or moral instruction,”
- “accomplish more academically than in conventional schools,”
- “for the parents to transmit values, beliefs, and worldview to the child,”
- “to customize or individualize the education of each child,” and
- “want to provide religious or moral instruction different from that taught in public schools.”
Dr. Ray further commented, “I wonder how teachers unions, African American advocacy groups, certified teachers, public school administrators, and professors of education will look at these findings. Will they start encouraging Black families to homeschool?”
The study was recently published in the peer-reviewed Journal of School Choice.