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Over One Million U.S. Students Are Home-Schooled

I'm Steve Ember with the VOA Special English Education Report.

Last week, we told you about a big honor for a California teenager who is home-schooled. Sixteen-year-old Michael Viscardi of San Diego won first prize in the Siemens Westinghouse Competition in Math, Science and Technology. He showed solutions to a nineteenth-century math problem.

Michael has been schooled by his mother, who has a doctorate in neuroscience. He also worked on his project with a professor at a university.

Home-schoolers have won other honors including national competitions in geography and spelling.

The National Center for Education Statistics did its latest research on home-schooling in two thousand three. Researchers found that more than one million American students learned at home. That was more than two percent of the school-age population.

The report said the number of home-schooled students had increased. In nineteen ninety-nine, about eight hundred fifty thousand students were considered home-schooled. This meant they were taught at home instead of a school for at least part of their education. The students’ time spent in public or private schools could not be more than twenty-five hours a week.

Michael Viscardi, for example, has been taught mostly at home, but with advanced math classes at a local university.

The researchers asked parents why they home-schooled their children. Thirty-one percent said the most important reason was concern about the environment of the local schools. Thirty percent said it was to provide religious instruction. Sixteen percent said they were not satisfied with the quality of the instruction in the local schools.

The Associated Press recently reported about an increase in the number of black Americans home-schooling their children. An education expert said much of this increase was in cities with histories of racial tension. Also, some families were concerned that local schools were not teaching about African-American history and culture.

Critics of home-schooling say children need to attend school to help them learn social skills. They also say that some home-schooled children do not get a very good education. Still, all fifty states and the District of Columbia permit home-schooling. But some require more parent preparation or student testing than other states do.

This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Nancy Steinbach. Internet users can read and listen to our reports at I’m Steve Ember.