Homeschooled in College With Higher SAT Scores By Dr. Brian D. Ray
Are you comparing apples to apples or apples to mangoes? Are only the children of handsome, beautiful, genetically endowed, hardworking, and highly motivated parents involved in research on homeschooling? So ask some serious critics of researchers who continually find positive things related to home-based education. Researchers keep trying to find ways to control the variables. They want to know: Controlling for this variable and that, do the home-educated do worse, the same, or better academically than students in institutional schooling? They want to make sure they are comparing oranges to oranges
and not to pineapples. Dr. Dale Clemente added her piece to the mosaic while studying students in college. The purpose of her study was to determine whether there was a difference in academic achievement and college aptitude of home-educated high school seniors attending Christian colleges and universities, when compared to their conventionally schooled counterparts.
Her measure of achievement and aptitude was the SAT (formerly called the Scholastic Aptitude Test).
All the stu
dents in the researcher‘s study—
whether homeschooled, public schooled, or private institutional schooled
were attending Christian colleges
. This ―similarity‖
guaranteed, in a sense, that they were more like one another than if she had drawn them from state (public) universities. When a researcher cannot randomly assign people (e.g., K
2 students) to ―treatments‖—
such as homeschooling, public schooling, and private schooling
she needs to find ways to make them similar on various traits (e.g., family income, religious beliefs, parental education level) if meaningful contrasts are going to be made regarding a key variable like type of schooling. Sampling from Christian colleges and universities meant it was more likely Dr. Clemente was comparing college students from a homeschooling background to other college students with similar backgrounds except for their type of grades K
12 schooling experience (e.g., from state/public and private institutional schools). The researcher analyzed the SAT scores of 1,792 public, 945 private, and 222 homeschooled college students (
= 2,959). These were comprised of 1,441 males and 1,518 females, yielding a total of 2,959 test scores. Careful statistical analyses revealed that the mean rank of homeschooled students was higher than their public-schooled or private-schooled counterparts. Although the private-schooled students placed second of the three groups, the difference between public-schooled and private-schooled students was not statistically significant.
To her credit, Dr. Clemente pointed out certain limitations of her study. For example, she considered only SAT scores but thought it would be helpful to also consider other indicators of achievement or aptitude such as grade point average. Second, she was not able to ascertain for how many years of his or her grades K to 12 each college student had been in public school, private school, or homeschooling. Also, the researcher pointed out that her causal-comparative design only suggests that there might be a cause-and-effect relationship between homeschooling and higher scores, and that her design does not allow for a conclusive statement about causation. The following is o
ne of Dr. Clemente‘s