About 1.8 million children in the United States were homeschooled in 2012, according to the latest estimates from the U.S. Department of Education.
In a report, "Homeschooling in the United States: 2012," released Tuesday by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), government analysts used the results of a 2012 national parent survey to estimate that 1,773,000 students aged 5 to 17 with a grade equivalent of kindergarten through 12th grade were homeschooled. That represents about 3.4 percent of the total number of students in that age group.
The number of homeschooled students in 2012 was more than twice what is was in 1999, when the first government survey on the question was conducted. In that year, the NCES estimated that 850,000—about 1.7 percent of all students—were being homeschooled. In 2007, the last time the government conducted a survey on homeschooling, the NCES estimated that 1.5 million students were homeschooled.
By comparison, the National Home Education Research Institute estimates that as of 2016, about 2.4 million students are homeschooled in the United States. "It appears the homeschool population is continuing to grow at an estimated 2 percent to 8 percent per annum over the past few years," the institute says.
The 2012 NCES survey found that white students accounted for 83 percent of those homeschooled, and 89 percent of homeschooled students were categorized as "nonpoor."
The parents responding to the survey identified several reasons for homeschooling their children: 91 percent said concerns about school environments (e.g., safety, drugs or negative peer pressure) were a factor; 77 percent cited a desire to provide moral instruction; 74 percent pointed to dissatisfaction with the academic instruction at other schools; and 64 percent said they were motivated by a desire to provide their children with religious instruction.
Asked to identify the most important factor in opting for homeschooling, 25 percent cited concerns about the school environment; 19 percent cited dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools; and 17 percent cited a desire to provide religious instruction.
About one-fourth of parents said they had taken a course, either online or in person, to prepare themselves for teaching their children.
The survey also indicated that about one-fourth of homeschooled students had enrolled in online courses as part of their instruction: 34 percent of high school-level students, 35 percent of middle school-level students, and 11 percent of elementary-level students were taking at least one online course.