Doing the math behind homeschooling

Public, private, parochial, charter schools: There's no shortage of options on where to send your children for their education.

But a growing number of Americans are choosing not to send them anywhere at all, opting instead to educate them at home.

The National Center for Education Statistics says that 1.7 percent of kids were homeschooled in 1999, 2.2 percent in 2003, and 2.9 percent in 2007. Today, that figure is at 4 percent, according to an article published at EducationNews.org.

So it appears that the homeschooling growth rate is more exponential than it is steady.

Most parents aren't certified teachers, so it stands to reason why some question the effectiveness of a homeschool education. But the Home School Legal Defense Association, an advocacy group in favor of homeschooling, reported in 2009 that homeschooled students averaged 37 percentile points higher on standardized tests than their public school counterparts.

EducationNews.org backs that up, saying that while students in traditional schools mark the 50th percentile on standardized tests, students who are "independently educated" score between the 65th and 89th percentile.

Of course, there's a time commitment involved in homeschooling that many families simply can't make. If a single parent has a full-time job -- or if both parents do -- setting aside several hours a day to educate a child simply isn't feasible.

And the arguments against homeschooling -- from varying state requirements to reduced social interaction among peers to a lack of student competition -- can be challenging issues to address.

But if the number of kids who are homeschooled continues to rise, it may signal a noteworthy trend.