In the earlier Parent survey conducted as part of the 1999 NHES, parents were posed an open-ended question asking them to list their reasons for homeschooling. Parents provided a broad range of reasons for homeschooling their children, which were coded into 16 different categories. In 1999, three reasons for homeschooling were the most frequently cited: 49 percent of homeschooled students had parents who cited the ability to give their child a better education, 38 percent had parents who cited religious reasons, and 26 percent had parents who cited a poor learning environment at school (Bielick, Chandler, & Broughman 2001).
While the 1999 survey was able to provide a context for why parents were homeschooling their children, it had two main limitations. First, when faced with an open-ended question, parents may not have recalled or responded with all of the reasons for homeschooling that were applicable to their situation. Second, parents were not specifically asked to report their primary reason for homeschooling. Questionnaire items in the 2003 collection were designed to address these limitations. The 2003 survey presented parents with a series of questions asking them whether particular reasons for homeschooling applied to them (table 4). Parents were then asked which of those applicable reasons was their most important reason for homeschooling.
The reason for homeschooling that was most frequently cited as being applicable was concern about the environment of other schools including safety, drugs, or negative peer pressure. Eighty-five percent of homeschooled students were being homeschooled, in part, because of their parentsí concern about the environment of other schools. The next two reasons for homeschooling most frequently cited as applicable were to provide religious or moral instruction (72 percent) and dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools (68 percent).
Parents were asked which of the reasons they homeschooled was the most important reason. Figure 2 and table 4 show the most important reasons students were being homeschooled in 2003, as reported by parents of homeschooled students. Concern about the environment of other schools and to provide religious or moral instruction were the top two most important reasons cited. About a third of students had parents who cited concern about the environment of other schools as their most important reason for homeschooling (31 percent). Approximately another third of homeschooled students had parents who were homeschooling primarily to provide religious or moral instruction (30 percent). Sixteen percent of homeschooled students had parents whose primary reason for homeschooling was dissatisfaction with the academic instruction available at other schools, making this the third most common primary reason for homeschooling.