Study – Structured Homeschooling aces public schools

A new non-partisan study shows that structured homeschooling has a marked positive result compared to public schools.  Non-structured homeschooling was inferior to both.

Structured homeschoolers between 5-10 years of age were reading 2.2 years above public schools, and 1/2 year in math.

Can we look at including structured programs as an option for families that the education funds can pay for?  After all, Internet homeschooling programs are cheap and easy to use.

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About rameumptom

Gerald (Rameumptom) Smith is a student of the gospel. Joining the Church of Jesus Christ when he was 16, he served a mission in Santa Cruz Bolivia (1978=1980). He is married to Ramona, has 3 stepchildren and 7 grandchildren. Retired Air Force (Aim High!). He has been on the Internet since 1986 when only colleges and military were online. Gerald has defended the gospel since the 1980s, and was on the first Latter-Day Saint email lists, including the late Bill Hamblin's Morm-Ant. Gerald has worked with FairMormon, More Good Foundation, LDS.Net and other pro-LDS online groups. He has blogged on the scriptures for over a decade at his site: Joel's Monastery ( He has the following degrees: AAS Computer Management, BS Resource Mgmt, MA Teaching/History. Gerald was the leader for the Tuskegee Alabama group, prior to it becoming a branch. He opened the door for missionary work to African Americans in Montgomery Alabama in the 1980s. He's served in two bishoprics, stake clerk, high council, HP group leader and several other callings over the years. While on his mission, he served as a counselor in a branch Relief Society presidency.

16 thoughts on “Study – Structured Homeschooling aces public schools

  1. This actually doesn’t seem too surprising, except for perhaps for teachers who assume they alone are uniquely qualified to teach or that a certification an effective teacher makes.

    Think about it…

    Unstructured home schooling usually involves people who are abhorred by the heavy focus on “you must learn this” and have more of an exploratory, “grow and learn along the way” approach. That they would lag behind makes sense, because those who homeschool their kids this way often disagree with the very types of education being crammed into the heads of young children — I’m not saying long division or reading isn’t important by any means. But I can see the point of many in this area who in effect say, “they will learn these skills along the way as they grow and the personal growth is more important over a lifetime than scoring well on a test.”

    The structured home schooling approach is perhaps to focus on the types and measures of learning done in school, but provide personal hands on attention in the process.

    It’s no surprise that those who are not focused on certain metrics and measures of education perform worse when tested on those metrics and measures. It’s also no surprise that of those two groups who are trained along those metrics and measures, that generally those who get more individualized attention in the process do better.

  2. I’m pretty sure the results for high school students who are homeschooled in math and science aren’t nearly as cheery…

    Homeschooling can certainly have its advantages. Students may get more individualized attention (most classrooms have 25-35 students and just one teacher), and the teaching can more easily occur at the student’s own level. But there comes a point when the parent’s inability to teach a subject outweighs the homeschool advantage. I took several geology, chemistry, and physics, and calculus courses in college, but I’m certainly not qualified to teach them at the high school level. A short introduction–maybe. A full year? No way. Very few parents are. (By the way, I can teach Biology–but that’s because I majored in it; someone who only has a handful of biology courses under their belt probably isn’t qualified to teach it, at least not as a full course).

    An internet option? Maybe. But keeping kids on-task isn’t always easy–they’re going to need a ton of supervision. They’ll also need easy access to a teacher who actually knows what he or she is talking about (generally, at the high school level, not just a parent).

  3. Tim, as a public school-educated parent of three children who have been homeschooled, I can say with all honesty that ANYTHING is better than a public high school education in the U.S. today. The wonder of our information-soaked world is that anyone of any age can learn almost anything about anything through a combination of public library resources and the Internet. If a “traditional” class is desired (or necessary as in the case of some laboratory sciences), community colleges are available to fill the gap.

    Yes, the child needs to develop self-motivation, a love of learning, and a high level of competency in the “soft skills” (study habits, planning your time, etc.) to succeed outside of a “traditional” high school environment. However, none of these characteristics are likely to be gained out of a public high school experience, no matter how “good” the school may be.

    There are so many alternatives to the traditional high school experience that I am amazed anyone chooses it willingly for their children.

  4. It is not like you just beat the Green Bay Packers in football when home schooling does better than government education. The recent Atlanta public school scandal with pervasive and coercive cheating at every level, from the classroom all the way to the top of the administration, is a disturbing look into the heart and soul of public education. It wasn’t for lack of money. Bev Hall, the crooked superintendent in charge of the conspiracy to rob a generation of children of their education was making twice as much money as President Obama and more than 90% of physicians. She was named superintendent of the year in San Francisco. Over 200 teachers are implicated, teachers who started out at annual salaries of about $50K. Affected schools include 44 of the 56 in the district. A strong correlation between the percent of students receiving free breakfast and lunch at school and the percent of teachers cheating was hard to ignore and approached 100% in both categories in many schools.

  5. My two oldest daughters go to charter schools, and the schools are absolutely fantastic. The local “normal” public schools are complete pits, but the charter schools (privately run, no tuition) are great. So, it is possible to have a public system that provides good education, but it involves allowing competition.

  6. I have been blessed to be able to raise my children in a fantastic (K-12) public school system. As a former elementary education teacher, I can see how elementary school age children in a structured home school environment would score higher than their peers. The lower teacher pupil ratio would be a huge factor in their success. I would want to see how these same students compare with their peers during the middle and high school years. There are not many parents who would have the skill set to teach high school level Math, English, and Science. Computer programs are helpful, but can they really substitute a real teacher, science labs, and peer diversity one would find in a classroom setting?

  7. I have two sons, home schooled through high school, high achieving in college, one graduated from Chapman University, now working on his MBA, the second at BYU, doing his premed and majoring in Chinese. It is possible. Both these sons were taking classes at the Junior College for their senior year of college, both scored high and were accepted to BYU. I am very structured, true, and got my degree in biochem, but kids can take these science and math courses in jr colleges and internet courses. Take a look at and see what teaching is all about today. My two other kids that went to public school, had miserable math teachers in what was considered one of the finest school districts in California — Irvine. I would love to see schools go private, even religious, anything but the teacher’s union. Competition helps.

  8. I know homeschooling can work if the parents are prepared and organized. I’ve also seen homeschooling fail miserably with the kids falling several grades behind. It takes a lot of dedication and preparation to sucessfully homeschool.

  9. In Utah the public school system has a program that provides a home school online option with state-approved curriculum and the ability to work with publicly employed professional teachers online. I feel fortunate though, that the public schools in my area are good.

  10. My kids attended school in Alabama. Putrid grade schools, where we had to do the real schooling after their attendance during the day. Fortunately, they are now creating charter schools which are decent. Unfortunately, they miss 75% of the kids, who still get the putrid education. All the rich people send their kids to private schools there, to avoid this major problem.

    An Internet based structured system, with support for advanced classes where needed, is the way of the future for many kids.

    I now live near Indianapolis. The schools in my area are very good. But drive 20 miles east, into the heart of Indy, and you get 50% drop out rates, violence, drugs, and very low test scores and college entrance rates.

    Why should a system be so disparate, only 20 miles apart? Because the unions have great control over the inner city, and there is more parental support in the suburbs. Yet, those inner-city youth that I know using the Khan Academy, K-12, and other on-line systems are excelling beyond others in the same area attending public schools.

    I have a MA in Teaching/History, and I know a good program when I smell it. I also can recognize the stench of terrible public and private programs.

    True, parents can’t always help. But there is on-line and often local assistance in many of these programs.

  11. I saw an excellent documentary on the public school system, called “Waiting for Superman” You can netflix it. The movie is eye-opening for many, you will see the status of our public school system, the tenure program that locks in bad teachers and more. Look at the website: Waiting for Superman:

    For those who can homeschool, that is great, there are many capable women who could otherwise run corporations, but choose to teach their children. For those who rely on the public system, there is much needed to bring it up to a higher standard. Here in Calif, the governor just signed a bill to trash all the social studies books and replace them with ones that include contributions of gays, lesbians, transgender and bisexual.

  12. Delia,

    Plase read Diane Ravitch “The Myth of Charter Schools” in the November 11, 2010 New York Review of Books. She utterly destroys Waiting for Superman. What we are innundated with is bad propaganda, flawed use of statistics, and for profit charter schools hiring ad people like those who try to sell you beer on TV to sell Charter Schools to you.

    We who were in public education are by nature unrepentent borrowers if not thieves. If there is something that helps kids learn, we want to adapt it or adopt it. Our problem is how do we find those things? Do we have the money to do that? Is there a way we can do that on the cheap? Where can I find materials and support?

    When you get propaganda like this film that does not present charter schools that communities can afford to support, does not show public schools that work and that ignore the many failures of charter schools, you have nothing useful.

    You have charter schools that are affordable and that work (Geoff B’s daughters are in one). We need to know why they do well? Can they be replicated? The same is true for Public Schools. Are their variations on Home Schooling that can be useful? This is what we need.

    In addition, Delia, textbooks and textbook selection does not happen that way. About every 6 to 8 years schools or school districts replace existing texts. If you are Houghton Mifflin you need to produce a basic text that will sell in California and Texas (Texas is here for a reason, as it adopts statewide-Since arch conservatives with a Christian Reconstructionist tinge have taken over the state school board, the new texts will reflect those views). Because of computer technology, it will be much easier for companies to tailor pages or parts of pages for various states. For example, Oklahoma would see a large picture of a hippie be in and in California you might see a picture of Harvey Milk and brief statement about being the first elected gay official in California. We are fairly certain in California we will see Hispanics mentioned and in Texa little if any mention of them. In California Thomas Jefferson will be cited in World History as a great 18th century revolutionary thinker, not even wrote about in Texas. In California we will use the words capitalism and free enterprise, in Texas only free enterprise.

    No texts will be thrown away, we can’t afford it. The old one will lay around for decades gathering dust somewhere. We might need them some day.

  13. I’m not an expert in education and I agree with the original post that homeschooling, when done well, can provide an excellent education. I would be interested, though, in a further study which compared just students at public schools whose parents were engaged and involved in their education and structured homeschoolers. I think that’s more of an apples to apples comparison than including everyone in public education.

  14. I would note that there are many very good public schools out there. However, they tend to be in wealthier communities where parents are involved. Inner cities, with almost no exceptions, have major problems with public schooling. Charter schools are an answer to some of that problem. Not all charter schools are of the same value. Still, almost all charter schools are better than inner city public schools. And some, as the one noted in Waiting for Superman, ARE quality charter school programs.

    Still, a structured home schooling program seems best in many instances. For many years in the past 15 years, homeschooling kids have competed and often won in the national spelling and geography bees. Many go on to top colleges and excel. The studies are now there to show it seems to work.

  15. When I was growing up in Utah in the 1960’s, I distinctly recall that the church used to crow about their excellence in education like they do now about health and longevity. Was it really true that Utah Mormons once had the best public schools in the nation? What the heck happened?

    Ideas rattling around in my head:

    -Lots of “gentiles” moved into Utah.
    -Drop in performance highest in rural schools in still predominantly LDS communities.
    -Sunday School, the best attended Sunday meeting before Correlation.
    -Deseret Sunday School Board made of the best educators in the state.
    -Real educators (Lowell Bennion) writing manuals and leading Institutes of Religion.
    -Some intellectuals in positions of church leadership at every level, not marginalized.
    -BYU grew from low status community college to “Stanford of the Intermountain West.”
    -Elimination of corporal punishment from schools.
    -Schools became social ax grinding institutions, losing sight of their basic mission.
    -LDS women, formerly the best teachers, told to stay home or able to pursue other careers.
    -Economic necessity or perceived necessity of two income families.
    -LDS moved from Progressive Party Democrats to tight-fisted Conservative Republicans.
    -More scientific/historical problems disturbing to orthodox LDS beliefs jeopardized academia’s credibility.

    Some people are born stupid. Others greatly enlarge their birthright of it. Still others have it thrust upon them by those who ostensibly have the duty to educate them.

    The decline of American public education and more especially LDS public schools has many complex factors. I think that in communities where we predominate, there is little excuse for us to not solve these problems and continue neglecting the education of our next generation, to the degree that we have done collectively in the last few decades.

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