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One-third of U.S. Adults Know Someone Who Homeschools Their Child
April 14, 2006

Two-thirds of adults cite dissatisfaction with academic instruction as a main reason why they think parents in general or they themselves homeschool their children

ROCHESTER, N.Y., April 14 /PRNewswire/ -- The passage of the No Child Left Behind Act has focused attention not only on public education in the United States, but on alternatives to public education as well. One such alternative is homeschooling, a growing trend in recent years(1). One-third (34%) of U.S. adults know someone who currently homeschools their child. Among those households with children who are old enough to have attended school, eight percent report that their child has been homeschooled at some point in their education.

These are the results of a nationwide Harris Poll of 2,435 U.S. adults surveyed online by Harris InteractiveŽ between March 8 and 14, 2006.

Reasons for homeschooling

U.S. adults think that parents' main reasons or say their own main reasons for homeschooling their children are dissatisfaction with academic instruction (65%), to provide religious or moral instruction (60%), and concern about safety at school or on the school bus (53%). Half of adults (51%) say one of their main reasons for homeschooling or think that other parents homeschool their children is because of dissatisfaction with state or government regulations at school.

Party identification and homeschooling

Republicans are more likely than Democrats to know someone who currently homeschools their child (40% vs. 29%). Party identification also distinguishes adults' views on parents' motivations for homeschooling their children. Republicans are more likely than Democrats to cite religious or moral instruction (69% vs. 56%) and student behavior problems (50% vs. 43%) as main reasons behind homeschooling. In contrast, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to cite schools being too crowded to provide individual attention (44% vs. 35%) and educating children with special needs (42% vs. 33%) as main reasons for homeschooling.

The emphasis on academic instruction in the reasons for homeschooling is also reflected in the perceived quality of education that homeschooling provides, compared to that of U.S. public schools. U.S. adults are more likely to rate the quality of education provided by homeschooling as very good or excellent than that provided by public schools at both the elementary and secondary levels, although neither is rated very highly. One-quarter of adults rate homeschool education as excellent or very good compared to fewer than two in 10 adults who rate public school education this highly at the elementary (25% vs. 17%) or the secondary (23% vs. 14%) levels.

                                   TABLE 1


"Not including you or your spouse/partner, do you know anyone who currently homeschools their child, that is, part or full-time schooling at home instead of in a public or private school?"

    Base: All Adults

                  All        Republicans       Democrats       Independents
                    %               %              %                 %
    Yes            34              40             29                35
    No             66              60             71                65

                                   TABLE 2
  "If applicable, what types of schools has your child(ren) ever attended?"

    Base: All Adults

                                              All         Households with
                                              Adults      Children Old Enough
                                                          to Attend School
                                                %                   %
    Public school                               57                 92
    Private school, church-related              13                 20
    Private school, not church-related           5                  8
    My child(ren) is/was homeschooled            2                  8
    Charter school                               2                  7
    I don't have a child(ren) or my child
     is not old enough to attend school yet     39                 --

                                   TABLE 3
   "Why is/was your child(ren) homeschooled? What do you think are the main
               reasons why parents homeschool their children?"

    Base: All Adults

                                    All    Republicans  Democrats Independents
                                      %            %          %            %
    Dissatisfaction with
     academic instruction            65           68         64           68
    To provide religious or
     moral instruction               60           69         56           58
    Concern about safety at
     school (or on the bus)          53           50         55           52
    Dissatisfaction with
     regulations at school           51           51         50           54
    Student behavior
     problems at
     public/private schools
     (or on the bus)                 47           50         43           51
    To provide
     individualized teaching         42           43         43           42
    Schools were too crowded
     to provide individual
     attention                       41           35         44           43
    Child(ren) has special
     needs/disabilities              39           33         42           41
    Too much attention
     trying to maintain
     discipline and too
     little attention to true
     learning                        37           36         39           37
    Public/private school
     does not challenge
     students                        29           30         28           32
    To improve family unity          21           23         20           20
    Want year-round schooling        13           14         12           14
    It was more convenient
     due to transportation
     issues                          12           11         13           11
    Could not get into
     desired school                  10            7         12            9
    My child(ren) stopped
     enjoying learning at
     public/private school.           9            8          9           10

    *Only responses with 1% or more listed.

                                   TABLE 4
    "Overall, how would you rate the quality of education provided by the
                       following in the United States?"
                      Percent saying excellent/very good

    Base: All Adults

    Homeschooling, grades K-6                                    25
    Homeschooling, grades 7-12                                   23
    Public schools, grades K-6                                   17
    Public schools, grades 7-12                                  14


The Harris PollŽ was conducted online within the United States between March 8 and 14, 2006 among 2,435 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All surveys are subject to several sources of error. These include: sampling error (because only a sample of a population is interviewed); measurement error due to question wording and/or question order, deliberately or unintentionally inaccurate responses, nonresponse (including refusals), interviewer effects (when live interviewers are used) and weighting.

With one exception (sampling error) the magnitude of the errors that result cannot be estimated. There is, therefore, no way to calculate a finite "margin of error" for any survey and the use of these words should be avoided.

With pure probability samples, with 100 percent response rates, it is possible to calculate the probability that the sampling error (but not other sources of error) is not greater than some number. With a pure probability sample of 2,435 adults one could say with a ninety-five percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of 2 percentage points. Sampling error for the sub-samples of Republicans (774), Democrats (814), Independents (642) and households with school-aged children (460) is higher and varies. However that does not take other sources of error into account. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.


    Q807, 810, 835, 841_1, 841_2, 841_7, 841_8

    The Harris PollŽ #29, April 14, 2006

By Dana Markow, Ph.D., Vice President, Youth and Education Research, Harris InteractiveŽ