Homeschooled children - as advanced as research show it?

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University College of English Language Teacher Education
University of Warsaw


Aleksandra Michalik
Group 3 Year 2

Warsaw 2014

How does a homeschooling family change the light bulb?
First, mom checks three books on the electricity out of the library, then the kids make models of light bulbs, read a biography of Thomas Edison and do a skit based on his life. Then, everyone studies the history of lightings methods, wrapping up with dipping their own candles. Next, everyone takes a trip to the store where they compare types of light bulbs as well as prices and figure out how much change they’ll get if they buy two bulbs for $1.99 and pay with a five dollar bill. On the way home, a discussion develops on the history of money and also on Abraham Lincoln, as his picture is on the five dollar bill. Finally, after building a homemade ladder out of branches dragged from the woods, the light bulb is installed.

According to statistics by The National Home Education Research Institute about 2 million children at the age from 5 to 17 are homeschooled every year in the U.S.. Learning at home is as old as humanity itself, but the term homeschooling refers to parents choosing to either withdraw their children from school or not even sending them there. The reasons for homeschooling are most common: '' a concern about the environment of other schools”, ''a desire to provide moral or religious instruction'' and ''a dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools'' based on the research by The National Household Education Survey (2007) (Gaither, Kunzman 9). These categories are very broad, unfortunately, and it is difficult to make any assumptions based on them, as parents' motivation are not independent of their circumstances. Moreover, the reasons tend to change and develop over time. However, it is possible to assume that parents who choose to homeschool, believe that they will provide a better education for their offspring than a public school system. The parents base their impressions on a lot of articles featuring research that homeschooled children get better test scores than their peers in school. In addition, these studies showed that neither the education of the parent, their wealth nor origin mattered in their children results. For instance : “The largest study to date . . . involved 12,000 students. The homeschooled children placed in the 62nd to the 91st percentile of national norms, depending on grade level and subject area. At least one intriguing study suggests that student achievement for homeschoolers is not related to the educational attainment of the parent” (Lines 4). Rachel Gathercole in her article “Homeschooling’s True Colors” debunks the myths about homeschoolers by writing “Numerous studies of homeschoolers' achievement show that homeschoolers score exceptionally well on standardized tests, with the average/median homeschool students outperforming at least 70 to 80 percent of their conventionally schooled peers in all subjects and at all grade levels” (58-59). Several publications have appeared over the years documenting academic achievement of homeschooled children, and comparing it to children taught at schools. The most famous are the ones mentioned above, conducted by Dr. Brian D. Ray in 1990, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2004 and 2010, published through his organization, the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), and the one by Dr. Lawrence Rudner in 1999. These researches are most cited and receive the most media attention. The only problem is that these surveys, as well as the others, are in most cases badly conducted. What is more, they do not feature enough participants and they are biased. That is why these studies are widely criticized by sociologists, statisticians and scholars specializing in homeschooling. Unfortunately, the...
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