Homeschool Students Score Higher on SAT, Study Finds

Published August 10, 2016

Homeschool students score higher than the national average on the SAT college entrance exam, a new survey has found.

A new National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) study, titled “Homeschool SAT Scores for 2014 Higher Than National Average,” found the homeschooled high school seniors who participated scored an average of 567 in critical reading, 521 in mathematics, and 535 in writing. The national average scores of all high school seniors who participated were 497 in critical reading, 513 in mathematics, and 487 in writing.

NHERI’s study, released in June, compared the scores of 13,549 homeschooled seniors on the SAT to the national average scores of approximately 1.7 million exam participants in 2014. The number of homeschooled students in the United States has nearly doubled in the past decade.

“On average, homeschoolers did about 9 percent better,” said Andrew Mullins, federal relations representative for the Home School Legal Defense Association. “Homeschoolers did maybe 12 percent better on critical reading and 3 percent on math—that was the lowest—and something like 8 percent on writing.”

Personalized Learning

Yvonne Bunn, director of Homeschool Support and Government Affairs for the Home Educators Association of Virginia, says homeschool parents understand the value of personalized learning.

“One-on-one tutoring is really making a big difference,” Bunn said. “Working with your child not only at the level they are at, whether they are advanced or need to be remediated, but using a curriculum that fits their abilities, interests, and talents, with that one-on-one curriculum, children are really able to go deeper into subjects they’re interested in. That gives them the opportunity to really grow and expand into certain topics. Teachers today just don’t have that opportunity [because of] how many [different] levels are in their class.”

Mullins says strong parental influence is another advantage of homeschooling. 

“You can customize [homeschoolers’] education based on their strengths and weaknesses, and that causes kids to thrive and find their niche in education,” Mullins said. “The parents themselves can hold their kids accountable for their work. There is a lot of individualized attention.”

Mullins says parents of special-needs children have become a major part of the homeschool community.

“Parents know what’s best for their kids, and a lot of times parents realize they can do a better job than the traditional public schools,” Mullins said.

Exemplary Success

Renee Fornshill, founder and co-director of the Skye Chase Enrichment Co-Op at the Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Alexandria, Virginia, homeschooled her son Benjamin from his pre-K years until he graduated high school at the age of 15. Benjamin is now enrolled at Northern Virginia Community College as a full-time, second-year student.

At the age of 14, Benjamin scored in the top 25 percent overall on the SAT and the top 12 percent in English. At 16, Benjamin scored in the top 7 percent overall and the top 1 percent in English, with no formal preparation for the test.

Fornshill says homeschooling provides an environment ideal for learning.

“Direct tutoring, a calm environment without comparison to other students, a wide variety of freedom to learn at his own pace, flexible schedules, and extra time to invest in activities that could potentially lead to careers and mastery of particular interests” led to her son’s academic success, Fornshill said.

Better Prepared, Sooner

Bunn says more and more homeschool students are proving to be ready for college work in their high school years and are dual-enrolling in community colleges.

“They are entering the community college atmosphere and taking those courses that are more advanced because of interest and out-of-the box learning,” Bunn said. “They had the opportunity, because of their schedule, to take online and daytime courses, so we’re seeing a lot of academic growth in those areas.”

Ashley Bateman ([email protected]) writes from Alexandria, Virginia.