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And researchers say survey data are difficult to collect on home schoolers because, as a group, they tend to be more wary of oversight and government infringement.
There’s anecdotal evidence that concerns over bias and bullying in traditional schools are driving more black families, Muslim families, and families with LGBTQ children to home school, and that, in turn, is fueling a rise in diversity among the home schooling population.
Home schooling is also gaining popularity with military families who frequently move.
The typical home-schooler profile, however, is a white, suburban student from a family that lives above the federal poverty line.
More specifically, 60 percent of home schoolers are white, 39 percent live in suburbs, 29 percent in cities, 22 percent in rural areas, and 10 percent in towns, according to the NCES.
A large majority of home schooling parents report that they chose to home school their children because of concerns over the environment in their original schools.
Ninety-one percent told the NCES that factors such as safety, drugs, or negative peer pressure helped drive them to home school their children.Requirements and regulations for home schoolers vary greatly from state-to-state, with most taking a decidedly hands-off approach to oversight.A 2015 report by the Education Commission of the States analyzed state home-school laws.It found: Three states—Alaska, Idaho, and Michigan—put the fewest restrictions on home-schooling families, while three others—Washington, New York, and Pennsylvania—have the most regulations, according to the ECS report.The lack of regulations in most states fuels much of the debate around home schooling.And there are also reports—although no firm data—that some families more recently are opting to home school to avoid vaccinating their children or exposing them to curricula tied to the Common Core State Standards.However, the most vocal, visible, and organized home schoolers remain those who are religiously motivated, most often conservative Christians.School district officials and some homeschooling activists say that without testing requirements and other forms of oversight, it’s impossible to ensure that home-schooled students are receiving a quality education and the skills necessary to transition successfully into the workforce or higher education.And in some extreme cases, home schooling has been used by parents and guardians to hide physical abuse of children.Of those, 25 percent took courses through a district school, 22 percent through a charter school, and 21 percent through a private school.And the number of home schoolers enrolling in virtual charter schools and other forms of online education is only growing, according to research by the Education Commission of the States.