One of those states experienced a 3. 4 percent decline in homeschool student numbers while the other 11 states experienced
increases of 10. 3 percent to 94. 7 percent
across the four years (i.e., the range was - 3. 4
percent to 94. 7 percent). The mean change
over the four years was a 26.0 percent increase, and the median change was 20. 1
Two other states and the largest county
in a third state provided data for most of
the years during the four years being examined. 7 The two states experienced 1. 4 percent to 3. 5 percent growth; the one county
saw 203 percent growth during spring 2012
to spring 2016.
All of these pieces of empirical evidence should be considered in the context of whether the overall U.S. school-age population changed from spring 2012
to spring 2016. The U.S. Department of
Education estimated that there were 49. 6
million students in the fall of 2012 and
50. 6 million in the fall of 2016.8 One
might infer, then, a change of a 2.0 percent increase in the overall U.S. school-age population across the four years under investigation in this article.
Finally, a person might consider anecdotal evidence regarding whether the
homeschool population is still growing or
not. I have been studying the homeschool
population and movement for over 33
years. 9 I often talk with businesses that sell
curriculum and services to homeschool
families and with homeschool organization leaders. The majority of them tell me
that they are confident that the homeschool population grew noticeably from
spring 2012 to spring 2016.
While the overall school-age population in
the United States grew by about 2.0 percent
from spring 2012 to spring 2016, data from
16 states from all four major regions of the
nation showed that homeschooling grew
by an average of about 25 percent in those
states. If the data from these states are representative of what happened in the other
states during those four years, then homeschooling is continuing to grow in both
absolute numbers and as a portion of the
overall school-age population.
If the state-specific statistics that are
presented in this article are an accurate
representation of reality, then what might
one think of the recent U.S. Department of
Education report? First, it must be kept in
mind that it is just one study among many
studies of the homeschool population and
the findings of one study must be considered in the context of the entire research
base and data from various sources.
Second, it is possible that the methods
of the researchers and the responses and
non-responses of potential participants resulted in an inaccurate estimate in 2016, in
2012, or in both years. If the same survey is
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parents, and the general
public have wondered
for 30 years whether
homeschooling would be
a quickly passing fad or
trend. It has not been so.