Martin-Chang, Sandra; Gould, Odette N.; Meuse, Reanne E. (2011, July). The impact of schooling on academic achievement: Evidence from homeschooled and traditionally schooled students. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science/Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement, 43(3), 195-202. (Retrieved a PDF online, pp. 1-8.) (Compares academic achievement of homeschool and conventional/traditional school students, and sub-divides homeschooled into structured versus unstructured instruction. “Abstract  Although homeschooling is growing in prevalence, its educational outcomes remain unclear. The present study compared the academic achievements of homeschooled children with children attending traditional public school. When the homeschooled group was divided into those who were taught from organized lesson plans (structured homeschoolers) and those who were not (unstructured homeschoolers), the data showed that structured homeschooled children achieved higher standardized scores compared with children attending public school. Exploratory analyses also suggest that the unstructured homeschoolers are achieving the lowest standardized scores across the 3 groups” [p. 1]. Used a match-pair design (matching homeschool to public school) and studied 74 children (37 solely homeschooled and 37 solely public school, or at least never homeschooled) between the ages of 5 and 10 years, with mean age of 7 years 11 months. “All of the mothers in the homeschooled group and all but one of the mothers in the public school group were married or living in committed relationships” [p. 3], and “mothers’ education and median income were slightly higher for the public school group” [p. 6]. Authors further divided the homeschool families into two groups, structured and unstructured, for analysis. “As shown in Table 2, the children who received structured homeschooling were superior to the children enrolled in public school across all seven subtests. To gain a broad perspective of the level of standardized achievement in each group, we conducted a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) that included the scores from all seven Woodcock–Johnson subtests. ….. Thus, all seven subtests were used as dependent variables, and schooling group (public school and structured homeschool) was the independent variable. ….. Using Cohen’s convention (Cohen, 1988) that a medium effect size is approximately  n2 [effect size squared?] = .06 and a large effect is n2 [effect size squared?] =  .14, all the variables showed a medium or strong effect. ….. In conclusion, when comparing the test scores of the children attending public school and children receiving structured homeschooling, it becomes clear that the latter group has higher scores across a variety of academic areas. Moreover, there is no evidence that this difference is simply due to the family’s income or the mother’s educational attainment. ….. Owing to the small number of individuals in the unstructured homeschooled group, we conducted simple t tests comparisons on each of the Woodcock–Johnson subtests separately. ….. In conclusion, our exploratory analyses suggest that the unstructured homeschooled children generally score below their expected [p. 5 ends] grade level on the standardized test, and that even with this small sample, performance differences are relatively substantial” [p. 6]. “Our results suggest that structured homeschooling may offer opportunities for academic performance beyond those typically experienced in public school. Moreover, the design used in the current study suggests that the benefits of structured homeschooling cannot be accounted for by differences in yearly family income or maternal education” [p. 6]. “The evidence presented here is in line with the assumption that homeschooling offers benefits over and above those experienced in public school” [p. 6]. “However, our results also show that the homeschooling community comprises subpopulations and suggest that the clear advantage of homeschooling may be limited to situations where parents create structured environments, at least in terms of performance on academic tests” [p. 7] and, this editor would add, at the young ages of 5 to 10 as this study considered; and authors state, “This raises the question of whether a similar pattern would be observed with larger sample sizes, and if so, whether the children receiving unstructured homeschooling would eventually catch up, or even surpass, their peers given ample time” [p. 7]. “The fact that the public school children were achieving above grade level expectations on many of the Woodcock–Johnson subtests suggests that this discrepancy did not stem from the poor performance of the public school children but rather resulted from accelerated progress in the children receiving structured home- based education” [p. 7]. “Practical restraints such as the heterogeneity of the population and difficulties in obtaining adequate sample sizes make homeschooling a challenging field of study. Nevertheless, further inquiry is required if parents are to make informed decisions regarding the education of their children. Moreover, identifying the best practices associated with different types of education may facilitate teaching in both traditional and homeschool settings. As such, we hope that our findings act as a catalyst for further investigation into the benefits and limitations associated with different types of home-based education” p. 7.) (Keywords: home education, homeschooling, public school, academic achievement, causal-comparative, matched-pair, structured, unstructured, Canada)

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