Yet Another Study Confirms The Effectiveness of Home Education

College graduates during their graduation ceremony  (click for credit)

College graduates during their graduation ceremony (click for credit)

As far as I know, I first encountered homeschool graduates when I was on the faculty at Ball State University. The ones I met stood out, even in a crowded chemistry or physics classroom. The more I researched homeschooling, the more I came to learn that this was the norm. On average, homeschool graduates are better prepared for college than their peers (see here, here, here, and here, for example). As a result, I started working with homeschoolers, and I began to understand why my homeschool graduates at Ball State University stood out: Homeschooling is a superior form of education for most students.

The data continue to support this fact. Consider, for example, a study that was published in the March 2013 edition of Catholic Education. The author examined the academic records of 408 students at Ave Maria University, a Roman Catholic university in South Florida. It is a fairly young university, founded in 2003 by the same man who founded Domino’s Pizza. In my mind, it makes perfect sense that a pizza man would open a university. The two seem to go together! Specifically, the university was founded as a conservative alternative to some of the more liberal Roman Catholic universities that exist in the U.S. As a result, it attracts a lot of homeschoolers, most of whom are Roman Catholic.

In the sample the author studied, there were 137 public school graduates, 142 students who graduated from catholic schools, and 129 homeschool graduates. The author compared four things among the three groups of students: SAT or ACT score, college grade point average (GPA), GPA by major, and GPA in the university’s “core” curriculum. The results are very interesting, and they demonstrate yet again that homeschooled students are simply better prepared for college than their publicly- and privately-schooled counterparts.1

First, the author looked at each student’s SAT or ACT score. While not perfect by any means, a student’s score on these college entrance exams is one measure of his or her preparation for college. After all, they are taken towards the end of the high school years, and they attempt to measure the student’s academic abilities before he or she enters college. The results are not surprising to anyone who knows the academic literature related to home education. On both the SAT and ACT, homeschooled students significantly outperformed the privately-schooled students, and the privately-schooled students outperformed the publicly-schooled students:

satact

The thing I notice about the numbers is how they really jump for the homeschooled students. Notice that the students who went to catholic school scored roughly 55 points higher than the publicly-schooled students on the SAT and roughly 0.3 points higher on the ACT. The homeschooled students, however, scored roughly 160 points higher than the publicly-schooled students on the SAT and roughly 1.8 points higher on the ACT. So while private catholic schools produced some increased performance on these college entrance exams, homeschools produced a significantly larger increased performance!

Of course, all the academic preparation in the world won’t do you much good if you can’t handle the other aspects of college. As a result, overall college GPA measures more than just a student’s academic preparation. It measures the student’s ability to adapt to the rigor of college academics, deal with the social issues that arise at college, handle an increased level of freedom, etc., etc. Once again, homeschool graduates fared the best in this measure:

gpa

And once again, you can see that while a private catholic school produced a benefit in student GPA as compare to a public school, homeschools offered a significantly larger benefit (0.48 compared to 0.22).

Now unlike overall GPA and SAT/ACT scores, the next two measures could not be compared for all students in the study. In order to have completed the university’s “core” courses and started a major, the student had to be a junior or senior. As a result, the freshmen and sophomores were excluded in this part of the analysis. This reduced the sample size significantly (from 408 to 164). As you can see, while the pattern remains the same, the differences between the students have reduced significantly:

core_major

Now because of the reduced sample size, none of the differences you see above are statistically significant. That means it’s possible the differences you see in the numbers are the result of random chance and not a difference in the schooling that the students experienced. However, they do match the statically-significant trends of SAT/ACT scores and overall GPAs, so they may be real. If they are real, they may indicate that as a student adapts to college (remember, the students in this part of the study were juniors and seniors), the quality of their college preparation becomes less important in determining their success.

Regardless of whether or not you can conclude anything from the “core” GPAs and the major GPAs, the other two measures in this study add to the growing list of data that point to one very clear conclusion: Homeschooled students are, on average, much better prepared for college than their peers.

Relax, homeschool moms. You’ve got this!

REFERENCE

1. Marc Snyder, “An Evaluative Study of the Academic Achievement of Homeschooled Students Versus Traditionally Schooled Students Attending a Catholic University,” Catholic Education, March 2013, pp.288-308. (Available Online)
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7 Comments

  1. In my home state of North Carolina, they realized early on that there was a big difference between End of Grade (EOG) scores of public versus private and home school students (what they call “non-public” – home schools essentially register as small private schools with some differences in building codes, student registration, and grade reporting regulations). The solution was to require different EOG tests for public students than they required for non-public schools. They developed special EOG tests just for public school students while non-public students take national standardized tests. You can’t compare apples to oranges in that Public school students are only compared to a state average while non-public scores compete nationwide.

    It isn’t until you investigate college scores that any difference can be noted. Even then it’s one step removed from comparison such that the difference won’t be obvious unless you are specifically looking for it.

  2. Ima S. says:

    I would be curious to know how many of the public school/private school/homeschool kids dropped out of this school prior to their junior & senior years.

    If lower-performing public/private school graduates dropped out in their freshman & sophomore years, leaving only higher-performing public/private juniors & seniors to compare to the homeschool grads, it could explain the scoring discrepancy.

    Homeschool grads who did well in their freshman & sophomore years may have been less inclined to drop out of college than their public/private peers, leaving only the better-performing public/private students to compare to the entire census of homeschool students.

    1. jlwile says:

      That’s a good point, Ima. From another study, we know that the 4-year graduation rate is higher among homeschoolers, so it stands to reason that there are more publicly- and privately-schooled students who drop out of college than homeschooled students.

  3. Debby Sapp says:

    Please fix the typo: “…and I began to understand why my homschool graduates at Ball State University stood out….”

    1. jlwile says:

      Thanks for pointing that out! I changed it.

    1. jlwile says:

      Thanks for posting that, Plato. It looks interesting. I will have to read the journal article.