For many families, the pandemic was their eye-opener into the realities of public education. Remote learning gave parents a front-row seat in their child’s virtual classroom, and it led many to pursue alternative forms of education for their children. Now, homeschooling is the fastest-growing form of public education in the U.S., a new analysis suggests.
According to new data collected from thousands of school districts across the U.S. by The Washington Post, homeschooling enrollment spiked dramatically during the height of the pandemic, and they’ve hardly shifted since.
Over the past six school years, the number of homeschooled students in states with comparable enrollment data has risen 51%, which far exceeds the 7% growth in public school enrollment. Furthermore, among the nearly 400 districts included in The Post‘s analysis, there was at least one homeschooled child for every 10 public schools during the 2021-22 school year.
“That’s roughly quadruple the number of districts that had rates that high in 2017-2018, signifying a sea change in how many communities educate their children and an urgent challenge for a public education system that faced dwindling enrollment even before the pandemic,” the authors wrote.
Homeschool enrollment varies significantly by state, the researchers added. For instance, six states in particular saw significant spikes in families opting for homeschooling alternatives.
According to The Post, these states saw at least 75% increases in total homeschool student enrollment since the 2017-18 school year:
- D.C.: 108%
- New York: 103%
- South Dakota: 94%
- Rhode Island: 91%
- California: 78%
- Tennessee: 77%
“The growth demonstrates home schooling’s arrival as a mainstay of the American educational system, with its impact—on society, on public schools and, above all, on hundreds of thousands of children now learning outside a conventional academic setting—only beginning to be felt,” the analysis reads.
- The analysis found no correlation between district quality determined by test scores and growth in homeschooling alternatives.
- Its popularity crosses several measurable lines of politics, geography and demographics.
- Public school enrollment dipped 4% in states with comparable enrollment data, “a decline partly attributable to homeschooling.”