Homeschooling by the Numbers
Most states do not collect data on the number of students being homeschooled; this makes determining the exact number of homeschooled children impossible. We can, however, make estimates. The most accurate estimates we have are those released every four years by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), which includes questions about homeschooling in its National Household Education Survey, last conducted in 2015-2016.
The number of children being homeschooled grew 28.9% between 1999 and 2003, 37.6% between 2003 and 2007, and 17.4% between 2007 and 2011-2012. Between 2011-2012 and 2015-2016, the number of children being homeschooled deceased by 4.5%. The highest rate of homeschool growth occurred between 2003 and 2007.
While homeschooling grew rapidly between 1999 and 2007, in other words, that growth slowed between 2007 and 2011-2012. Between 2011-2012 and 2015-2016, the estimated number of children being homeschooled decreased by around 80,000.
Important takeaways from this data include:
- As of 2015-2016, around 1,690,000 children, or 3.3% of all school aged children, were being homeschooled.
- While the early 2000s saw explosive growth, the rate of homeschooling appears to have stabilized since 2010.
State by State
Reporters and other individuals frequently want to know how many children are homeschooled in a given state. Unfortunately, determining this is challenging for a number of reasons. Among these reasons:
- Eleven states do not require homeschooling parents to notify anyone that they are homeschooling.
- States that require parents notify education officials frequently do not collect this data at the state level.
- Some states track the number of homeschools rather than the number of homeschooled students.
- States that require parents to notify the state only when they begin to homeschool may have defunct homeschools on their rolls.
- There is some disagreement as to whether students educated at home through private “umbrella” schools or virtual charter programs are homeschooled.
The table below provides (1) unadjusted estimates of the number of children homeschooled in each state, (2) adjusted estimates, and (3) state data where available.
1. We created the unadjusted number for each state by multiplying the number of children ages 5-17 in the state by 3.3%, the nationwide homeschool rate. The unadjusted rate, then, shows how many students would be homeschooled in that state if children in that state were homeschooled at the same rate as children are nationwide.
2. We calculated each state’s adjusted number by factoring in the following things:
- Each state’s urban/rural makeup (more children in rural areas are homeschooled).
- The race or ethnicity of children in the state (white and Hispanic children are more likely to be homeschooled while black are less likely to be so).
- Each state’s child poverty rate (children below the poverty rate are more likely to be homeschooled than other children).
It is important to remember that many states have characteristics that are not so easily corrected for. For example, enrollment levels in Alaska’s many correspondence school programs suggest that the state has far more homeschooled students than accounted for in our adjusted rate; this is likely due to extenuating factors specific to the state, such as the many students living in remote areas that are difficult to reach.
3. We gathered the state data listed in the table from the International Center for Home Education Research (ICHER); you can view this data on their website here. ICHER obtained this data from state education officials in states where such records are kept. Because this data is frequently not straightforward, we make liberal use of footnotes to provide more context. Unless otherwise marked, this data is from 2015 or 2016.some news sources speculated that North Carolina’s jump in homeschool enrollment might be a sign that homeschooling was increasing dramatically nationwide as parents voiced their opposition to the Common Core. The latest NCES data suggests that this was not the case; the NCES estimates that the nationwide rate of homeschooling has actually declined. What explains North Carolina’s high enrollment? The state requires parents to register with the Division of Non-Public Education only when beginning to homeschool, rather than annually, and does not ask for individual students’ names or grade levels; as a result, there may be defunct homeschools still on the books.  This number does not include students homeschooled under the state’s religious exemption, rather than through the state’s homeschool law. In the 2015-2016 school year, 6,472 students were homeschooled through the religious exemption, which allows parents to bypass all state requirements and standards, bringing the total number of students homeschooled in the state that year to 39,887.
Page last updated November 2017.