I recently came across a study with data on how homeschoolers perform in college calculus classes (how’s that for alliteration?) compared with their public and private school counterparts. The blog over at International Center for Home Education Research (ICHER) has a great summary.
This study, Are Homeschoolers Prepared for College Calculus?, found that homeschoolers tended to have similar SAT/ACT scores as their peers but homeschoolers tended to earn a better grade in college calculus. ICHER summarizes:
As for calculus scores, the mean grade of public-school students was 80.6% and the mean grade for homeschool students was 87.2%. Even though homeschoolers had the highest average of any school type, it did not reach statistical significance because of the low number of homeschoolers in the sample. Rather than school type, the most powerful predictor of calculus success seemed to be SAT/ACT math scores.
It is fairly intuitive that a math SAT score can predict performance math class. What is more interesting to me is that the study found that a home environment of learning is a more significant factor than the educational attainment status of the parents. From the study itself:
Yet it appears that “home support for mathematics” is a better (positive and significant) predictor of college calculus grades—yielding some evidence that parental support for mathematics matters more than parental education.
A parent who doesn’t have a college degree can still create a home environment that supports the mathematical education of their child in such a way that this child can excel even in higher level college math courses. And this holds true regardless of whether the student is homeschooled or attending a public, private, or charter school.
Of the various factors the study examined, parental education level, race, income, gender – none of these factors mattered as much as that home environment. Because a parent is a parent is a parent. And if we want our students to be prepared for STEM related studies and careers, a good place to start is trusting parents.
(If you found this to be interesting, check out my earlier article Want More STEM Students? Trust Their Parents which looks at another interesting study along similar lines.)