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Homeschooling in the United States: 2003

NCES 2006-042
February 2006

Estimated Number of Homeschooled Students in the United States

Both the number and the proportion of students in the United States who were being homeschooled increased between 1999 and 2003. Approximately 1.1 million students (1,096,000) were being homeschooled in the United States in the spring of 2003, an increase from the estimated 850,000 students who were being homeschooled in the spring of 1999 (Bielick, Chandler, and Broughman 2001) (figure 1 and table 1). In addition, the percentage of the entire student population who were being homeschooled increased from 1.7 percent in 1999 to 2.2 percent in 2003 (table 2).

Estimates in this report are based on interviews conducted with the parents of 11,994 students ages 5 through 17 with a grade equivalent of kindergarten through 12th grade. Of these students, 239 were homeschooled. All estimates are weighted to approximate population totals. When the sample is weighted, it represents the approximately 50 million students ages 5 through 17 with a grade equivalent of kindergarten through 12th grade in the United States in 2003, 1.1 million of whom are estimated to have been homeschooled.

As with results from any sample survey, the numbers and percentages discussed in this report are estimates of the actual numbers and percentages of homeschooled students in the population. Although 1,096,000 is the best estimate available from the 2003 NHES, another similar sample survey might produce a different estimate. A 95 percent confidence interval defines a range of values around an estimate, within which 95 percent of the estimates from all possible similar sample surveys are expected to fall. The 95 percent confidence interval for the number of students who were homeschooled in spring 2003 is 915,000 to 1,277,000. The best estimate provided here, 1,096,000, is the midpoint of that interval. Typically, NHES reports focus on statistically significant differences of at least 5 percentage points. However, this report presents estimates of a low-frequency event, the homeschooling rate, which is the percentage of the student population being homeschooled. Because the homeschooling rate is less than 5 percent for almost all subpopulations, it is not possible to have a difference of greater than 5 percentage points, therefore, all statistically significant differences in the homeschooling rate between subpopulations are discussed.

In this report, homeschoolers include students whose parents reported them as being schooled at home instead of at a public or private school for at least part of their education and if their part-time enrollment in public or private schools did not exceed 25 hours a week. Students who were schooled at home only because of a temporary illness were not included as homeschoolers1. As shown in table 1, in both 1999 and 2003, about four out of five homeschoolers (82 percent) were homeschooled only, while about one out of five homeschoolers (18 percent) were enrolled in public or private schools part time.

1 An illness is no longer considered temporary if it lasts 6 months or more.

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