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School Choice in the United States: 2019

Indicator 5: Homeschooling

In 2016, the percentage of students who were homeschooled was higher for those living in households with three or more children (4.7 percent) than for those who were the only child in the household (2.7 percent) and for those living in households with two children (2.3 percent).

Students are considered to be homeschooled if their parents reported them being schooled at home instead of at a public or private school, if their enrollment in public or private schools did not exceed 25 hours a week, and if they were not being homeschooled only due to a temporary illness. Homeschooled students include children ages 5 to 17 with a grade equivalent of kindergarten through grade 12. The number of homeschooled students increased from 850,000 in 1999 to 1,690,000 in 2016, and the percentage of students who were homeschooled increased from 1.7 percent to 3.3 percent over the same time period (see Indicator 1). This indicator describes characteristics of students who were homeschooled in 2016 and the reasons parents chose to homeschool their children. Data come from the Parent and Family Involvement in Education (PFI) questionnaire of the National Household Education Survey (NHES).


Figure 5.1. Percentage of homeschooled students ages 5 through 17 with a grade equivalent of kindergarten through grade 12, by student’s race/ethnicity and grade equivalent: 2016

Figure 5.1. Percentage of homeschooled students ages 5 through 17 with a grade equivalent of kindergarten through grade 12, by student’s race/ethnicity and grade equivalent: 2016

‡ Reporting standards not met (too few cases for a reliable estimate).
1 Includes Two or more races and race/ethnicity not reported.
NOTE: Students are considered to be homeschooled if their parents reported them being schooled at home instead of at a public or private school, if their enrollment in public or private schools did not exceed 25 hours a week, and if they were not being homeschooled only due to a temporary illness. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey of the National Household Education Surveys Program (PFI-NHES:2016). See Digest of Education Statistics 2018, table 206.10.


In 2016, about 3.3 percent of children ages 5 to 17 with a grade equivalent of kindergarten through grade 12 were homeschooled, as reported by their parents. The percentage of students who were homeschooled was higher for White (3.8 percent) and Hispanic (3.5 percent) students than for Black (1.9 percent) and Asian (1.4 percent) students. A higher percentage of students whose grade equivalent was 9th through 12th grade were homeschooled (3.8 percent) compared with the percentage of students whose grade equivalent was 1st through 3rd grade (2.4 percent). No measurable differences in the percentages of students who were homeschooled were observed either by students’ sex or by students’ parent-reported disability status.

The percentage of students who were homeschooled was higher in 2016 than in 1999 for White and Hispanic students and for students whose grade equivalents were from 1st through 12th grade.1 The percentage of students who were homeschooled was also higher in 2016 than in 1999 for both males and females and for both students who did and those who did not have a disability.


Figure 5.2. Percentage of homeschooled students ages 5 through 17 with a grade equivalent of kindergarten through grade 12, by locale and region: 2016

Figure 5.2. Percentage of homeschooled students ages 5 through 17 with a grade equivalent of kindergarten through grade 12, by locale and region: 2016

NOTE: Students are considered to be homeschooled if their parents reported them being schooled at home instead of at a public or private school, if their enrollment in public or private schools did not exceed 25 hours a week, and if they were not being homeschooled only due to a temporary illness. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey of the National Household Education Surveys Program (PFI-NHES:2016). See Digest of Education Statistics 2018, table 206.20.


The percentage of students who were homeschooled in 2016 varied by the locale in which they lived. A higher percentage of students who lived in rural areas (4.4 percent) than of those who lived in cities (3.0 percent) and suburban areas (2.9 percent) were homeschooled. The percentage of students living in towns who were homeschooled (4.3 percent) was not measurably different from the percentages of students living in other locales who were homeschooled. Higher percentages of students in the South and in the West than in the Northeast were homeschooled (3.9 percent in the South, 3.7 percent in the West vs. 1.8 percent in the Northeast). The percentage of students in the Midwest who were homeschooled (2.9 percent) was not measurably different from the percentages of students in other regions who were homeschooled.

The percentage of students who were homeschooled was higher in 2016 than in 1999 for students living in the South, Midwest, and West regions.


Figure 5.3. Percentage of homeschooled students ages 5 through 17 with a grade equivalent of kindergarten through grade 12, by selected family/household characteristics: 2016

Figure 5.3. Percentage of homeschooled students ages 5 through 17 with a grade equivalent of kindergarten through grade 12, by selected family/household characteristics: 2016

1 Poor children are those whose family incomes were below the U.S. Census Bureau’s poverty threshold in the year prior to data collection, near-poor children are those whose family incomes ranged from the poverty threshold to 199 percent of the poverty threshold, and nonpoor children are those whose family incomes were at or above 200 percent of the poverty threshold. The poverty threshold is a dollar amount that varies depending on a family’s size and composition and is updated annually to account for inflation. In 2015, for example, the poverty threshold for a family of four with two children was $24,036. Survey respondents are asked to select the range within which their income falls, rather than giving the exact amount of their income; therefore, the measure of poverty status is an approximation.
NOTE: Students are considered to be homeschooled if their parents reported them being schooled at home instead of at a public or private school, if their enrollment in public or private schools did not exceed 25 hours a week, and if they were not being homeschooled only due to a temporary illness. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey of the National Household Education Surveys Program (PFI-NHES:2016). See Digest of Education Statistics 2018, tables 206.10 and 206.20.


In 2016, the percentage of students who were homeschooled was higher for those living in households with three or more children (4.7 percent) than for those who were the only child in the household (2.7 percent) and for those living in households with two children (2.3 percent). Also, the percentage of students who were homeschooled was higher for those who had two parents living in the household (3.7 percent), compared with those who had one parent (2.3 percent) or who had only nonparental guardians (2.0 percent) in the household.

The percentage of students who were homeschooled was higher in 2016 than in 1999 for each of the number of children household groups. The percentage of students who were homeschooled was also higher in 2016 than in 1999 for students living in two-parent households and for those living in single-parent households.

The percentage of students who were homeschooled also varied by parent participation in the labor force and family income level. The percentage of students who were homeschooled in 2016 was highest for those who had two parents, one of whom was in the labor force (7.2 percent), and next highest for students who had no parent in the labor force (4.0 percent). Lower percentages of students who were homeschooled werefrom two-parent households with both parents in the labor force (1.7 percent) and from one-parent households with the parent in the labor force (1.8 percent). The percentages of students who were homeschooled were also higher for those who were poor2 (3.9 percent) and near poor (4.7 percent) than for those who were nonpoor (2.6 percent). No measurable differences were observed for the percentage of students who were homeschooled in relation to their parents’ educational attainment.

The percentage of students who were homeschooled was higher in 2016 than in 1999 for students in all labor force and family income level groups. The percentage of students who were homeschooled was also higher in 2016 than in 1999 for students whose parents’ educational attainment was a high school diploma or GED or vocational/technical, an associate’s degree, or some college. In contrast, the percentage of students who were homeschooled was not measurably different between 2016 and 1999 for students whose parents’ educational attainment was a bachelor’s degree3 or a graduate/professional degree.4


Figure 5.4. Percentage of homeschooled students ages 5 through 17 with a grade equivalent of kindergarten through grade 12 whose parents identified each listed reason as their most important reason for homeschooling: 2016

Figure 5.4. Percentage of homeschooled students ages 5 through 17 with a grade equivalent of kindergarten through grade 12 whose parents identified each listed reason as their most important reason for homeschooling: 2016

NOTE: Students are considered to be homeschooled if their parents reported them being schooled at home instead of at a public or private school, if their enrollment in public or private schools did not exceed 25 hours a week, and if they were not being homeschooled only due to a temporary illness. In addition to selecting listed reasons, parents could also write in “another reason.” About 11 percent of parents wrote in another reason for homeschooling as the most important one; other reasons included family time, finances, travel, and a more flexible schedule.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey of the National Household Education Surveys Program (PFI-NHES:2016). See Digest of Education Statistics 2018, table 206.15.


In 2016, parents of homeschooled students were asked to identify the most important reason for choosing to homeschool their child. The reason for choosing homeschooling that was reported as the most important by the highest percentage of homeschooled students’ parents was a concern about school environment, such as safety, drugs, or negative peer pressure (34 percent). The two other reasons for homeschooling frequently cited as most important by students’ parents were dissatisfaction with the academic instruction at their schools (17 percent) and a desire to provide religious instruction (16 percent).


1 See tables 5.1 and 5.3 for the 1999 data referenced in this indicator.
2 Poor children are those whose family incomes were below the U.S. Census Bureau’s poverty threshold in the year prior to data collection, near-poor children are those whose family incomes ranged from the poverty threshold to 199 percent of the poverty threshold, and nonpoor children are those whose family incomes were at or above 200 percent of the poverty threshold. The poverty threshold is a dollar amount that varies depending on a family’s size and composition and is updated annually to account for inflation. In 2015, for example, the poverty threshold for a family of four with two children was $24,036. Survey respondents were asked to select the range within which their income fell, rather than to give the exact amount of their income; therefore, the measure of poverty status is an approximation.
3 Includes parents with some graduate school education.
4 A comparison was not conducted for students whose parents’ educational attainment was less than a high school diploma/GED, because the 1999 data did not meet reporting standards.


Reference Tables

  • Table 206.10 (Digest of Education Statistics 2018) Number and percentage of homeschooled students ages 5 through 17 with a grade equivalent of kindergarten through 12th grade, by selected child, parent, and household characteristics: Selected years, 1999 through 2016
  • Table 206.15 (Digest of Education Statistics 2018) Percentage and percentage distribution of homeschooled students ages 5 through 17 with a grade equivalent of kindergarten through grade 12, by reasons their parents gave for homeschooling, the one reason their parents identified as most important, and race/ethnicity of child: 201516
  • Table 206.20 (Digest of Education Statistics 2018) Percentage distribution of students ages 5 through 17 attending kindergarten through 12th grade, by school type or participation in homeschooling and selected child, parent, and household characteristics: Selected years, 1999 through 2016

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