Skip Navigation
small NCES header image
Homeschooling in the United States: 2003

NCES 2006-042
February 2006

The Characteristics of Homeschooled and Nonhomeschooled Students

Another way to examine how student, family, and household characteristics are related to homeschooling is to compare the characteristics of homeschooled students to different populations of students. Data from the Parent Survey of the 1999 NHES showed that characteristics of the homeschooled population differed from those of the non-homeschooled population. In 1999, compared to nonhomeschooled students, homeschooled students were more likely to be White, to have families with three or more children in the household, to have two parents (especially when only one parent was in the labor force), and to have parents whose highest level of educational attainment was a bachelorís degree or higher. In 1999, compared to nonhomeschooled students, homeschooled students were less likely to be Black, to be Hispanic, to be in a three-or-more-child family, and to have parents whose highest level of educational attainment was a high school diploma or less (Bielick, Chandler, and Broughman 2001).

Table 3 provides a comparison of homeschoolers to non-homeschoolers, both public schooled students and private schooled students, by student, family, and household characteristics. Most of the percentage distributions of homeschooled students among the characteristics listed in table 3 are not detectably different between 1999 and 2003; therefore the following discussion focuses on 2003 data. Homeschooled students are a unique subset of the entire student population, and there are a number of ways that the characteristics of homeschooled students differed from both public and private schooled students in 2003.

Studentsí grade or grade equivalent

No differences were detected between the percentage distributions of homeschooled students and public schooled students across grade; however private schooled students were more likely than homeschooled students and public schooled students to be in kindergarten through grade 5.

Studentsí race/ethnicity and sex

In 2003, homeschooled students were more likely to be White (77 percent) and less likely to be Black (9 percent) than were public schooled students (61 and 16 percent, respectively). Homeschooled students were less likely to be Hispanic (5 percent) than either public or private schooled students (17 and 10 percent, respectively).

Female and male students were equally represented among the homeschool, public schooled, and private schooled populations.

Number of children living in the household

In 2003, homeschooled students were more likely than public or private schooled students to be living in families with three or more children (62 percent compared to 44 and 41 percent, respectively). Compared to public or private schooled students, homeschooled students were less likely to be an only child in the household or to be in a household with two children.

Number of parents living in the household

Homeschooled students and private schooled students were more likely than public schooled students to live in two-parent households (81 percent and 80 percent, compared with 69 percent, respectively) and less likely to live in single-parent households (18 percent for both homeschooled and private schooled students, compared with 27 percent for public schooled students).

Parentsí labor force participation

Homeschooled students were more likely than public and private schooled students to have only one of two parents in the labor force. Fifty-four percent of homeschooled students lived in two-parent families where one parent was not in the labor force, compared to 23 percent of private schooled students and 20 percent of public schooled students. Conversely, about 25 percent of homeschooled students lived in two-parent families where both parents were in the labor force, compared to 56 percent of private schooled students and 49 percent of public schooled students. Homeschooled and private schooled students were less likely than public schooled students to live in one-parent homes where the parent was in the labor force (16 and 17 percent compared to 25 percent).

Household income

Both homeschooled students and public schooled students were less likely than private schooled students to be part of households with annual incomes above $75,000 and more likely to be part of households with annual incomes of $25,000 or less. Twenty-two percent of homeschooled students and 25 percent of public schooled students lived in households with annual incomes above $75,000, compared with 50 percent of private schooled students. Twenty-six percent of both homeschooled and public schooled students lived in households with annual incomes of $25,000 or less, compared with 9 percent of private schooled students.

Parentsí highest educational attainment

Twenty-five percent of homeschooled students had parents whose highest educational attainment was a high school diploma or less; this figure is lower than that for public schooled students (34 percent) but higher than that for private schooled students (13 percent). Homeschooled students were also less likely than private schooled students to have parents whose highest educational attainment was graduate or professional coursework beyond a bachelorís degree (20 percent compared to 31 percent).

Urbanicity

Urbanicity refers to the classification of households as urban or rural. Urban is a place with at least 50,000 people. Rural is a place not classified as urban.2 In 2003, about 72 percent of homeschooled students lived in urban places and 28 percent lived in rural places. Compared to private schooled students, homeschooled students were less likely to live in urban places, and more likely to live in rural places. There were no differences detected in the urbanicity of homeschooled and public schooled students.

U.S. region

In 2003, homeschooled students were distributed across the Northeast, South, Midwest, and West much like public schooled students were. The apparent gap between the percentage of homeschooled students who were in the South and the percentage of public schooled students who were in the South was not detectably different.


2 More information on the urbanicity variable is included in the methodology and technical notes section.


Would you like to help us improve our products and website by taking a short survey?

YES, I would like to take the survey

or

No Thanks

The survey consists of a few short questions and takes less than one minute to complete.