Thursday, November 14, 2013

Survey Release #1

Survey Reveal Part One

     Ok. So I’d like to start by saying I that this is the very first survey I’ve ever written, and after I released it I cringed and wished I’d spent a bit more time perfecting it.   I do wish I’d written some questions differently, eliminated some that are repetitive, and there a couple that I really wish I would have thought to include before I released it. 

   That being said, I still think the results are fascinating and reveal a lot of good information.

   My goal in creating this survey was to ask questions that I have not heard addressed in any depth or in an organized way. There are trends that I have observed and topics that I’ve talked to fellow home school grads about in length that seem to be completely be ignored by most of the home school community at large.

   Having grown up in the very early years (1980’s) and out of the home school community, and then re-entering it  15 years later as a tentative home school Mom, I was actually pretty surprised at the direction of home schooling as a whole. I am amazed at some aspects and results of home schooling that I thought were pretty self evident that still seem to be completely unacknowledged by current parents and leaders in the movement.

    Have you wondered why the home school movement isn’t flooded with voices like my own? Do you wonder where an entire generation, (thousands of home school graduates) has gone?  Have you noticed that many of those leading the home school movement even now are those relatively new to the concept as a whole? (Most are still in the process of raising and schooling their kids.)

   What DO home school grads think of their home school experience? Those of us who have over the last 5- 20 years since we’ve left home have created our own lives. Many of us have children, and are choosing how to educate them.

   What I know to be true in my world is that most home school grads are not choosing to home school their own children. Often the strongest advocates of home school I know are those who did not experience it firsthand.

    In my post, ‘What is Successful Home School?’ I address the disparity between the academic results (in most cases, home school students score very high on tests) and the stated purpose of home school which (until only recently) was by a large margin parent's desire to pass on specific religious or moral values and beliefs to their children.

   For years home schooling has been considered an incredible success; but by whose standards? Has home schooling truly produced ‘believers and followers’, or simply better educated free thinkers who are equally likely to reject their parent’s beliefs as the culture from which they were kept?

   Only 128 home school graduates took my survey.  At these numbers, my survey is still highly antidotal statistically speaking. However these results reflect more than simply my family or local home school group. In fact I estimate about 25 - 30% of those who responded are people I do not know personally but were taking the survey on the recommendation of friends.

     I worked hard to get a broad spectrum of responders; however it was hard to find men with the interest or time to participate. Also, in most cases those with positive experience and those with young children currently discussing education options were far more likely to take my survey. There are many grads (especially male) I know who are busy living their life and are uninterested in rehashing their education. 

     With that being said, if you were homeschooled and are reading the results I would love to hear your thoughts. If you are a veteran home school parent who has finished educating your children, or are on the home stretch, I would love to hear your perspective. Do you feel the survey results match what you know of home school?

    I want to take a moment to clarify what this survey was intended to accomplish, and what it was not designed to do. First; this survey was not designed nor intended to achieve clinical, cold hard numbers of how well a student was educated, or how ‘successful’ they have become. 

   Instead I have attempted to give you a sense of how home school grads think and feel about their experience. I have asked question that are both highly subjective and personal.
  Some of these questions may seem unimportant until we get to the questions about family relationships and what these grads are choosing for their own children.  It is then that some of the others help give insight.

   It is important for you to know that almost all of these questions allowed multiple answer selection, so the results may equal more than the number of survey takers.
  Finally, and perhaps most important.
     Something I have always known to be true about my fellow home school graduates is the intense awareness we all have for the tremendous work and sacrifice of our parent teachers. No matter how widely our experiences differ, one factor was true in every single case: home schooling was not easy for them. Though there are some who through their difficult and painful experiences are extremely bitter and angry at their parents, the vast majority (even those with less than stellar experiences) feels tremendous loyalty toward their parents and the idea of home school itself.

   I believe it is one of the biggest reasons that the faults of home school (specifically within conservative Christian culture) are not freely discussed. No one wants to make their parents, or someone else’s parents feel like a failure. No one wants to ‘beat up’ the pioneers who fought for the rights we have today.
   I however feel it is of tremendous disservice to those who are attracted to this way of life every year not to be brutally honest with ourselves about home schoolings strengths and weaknesses. It is unfair to talk only about homeschooling success. I also think discussing flaws and failures can be done without beating anyone up or discrediting the good.
   Because the survey was fairly long, this is the first of several releases.

  This first slide includes the initial basic questions, and those in the academic and occupation sections. My thoughts and commentary follow.

 (To view this in a larger, full screen please click symbol on far right.)

My comments and observations.

Academic Section

   Given home schooling’s stellar reputation for producing strong students, I was curious how home school graduates felt about the academic aspects of their own experience.

   I was not surprised that almost a third (27%)* said that core academic subjects were not a strong focus in their home school experience. This is a number I fully expect to rise sharply given what I hear and see in the current home school community as many parents seem to be preferring activities, family projects and other forms of learning over classic text book and class room style learning. Only time will tell how and if this will impact home school test scores.

   Almost half (43%) of home school grads said that they did not regularly take tests, regularly have their work graded or know where they stood according to state requirements for their grade level. While this is a poorly worded question and leaves some room for interpretation, I do think it an indication of the independent / laid back nature of these parents' teaching styles.
  Currently there are many states that require little to no testing, supervision or regulation of homeschooling, which is something that some groups are trying to change.

   I find it interesting that while over a third (32%)said they had an accelerated academic experience, there were slightly more (33%) who said that they were either uneasy and wondered if their work was on par with peers, or embarrassed because they knew they were not doing grade level work.  {Please keep in mind, this survey was not designed to actually measure their academic strength, but to tell us how they perceive it.}
    Almost half (42%)said they were completely on their own for high school level work, and almost a third (28%) said they received some good instruction but that it was incomplete.
  Of those who sought further education; while graduates credited home schooling as preparing them well academically for college (70%to30%) just over half said it did not help prepare them socially, and it was nearly split between those who did and those who said it did not prepare them in general confidence. I think this is unfortunate, but also unsurprising.
Occupation Section
Over a third (35%) of home school grads said that self employment was a significant factor in which professions their parents encouraged, which I found interesting. I am not sure if this is affected by the large number of women who took this survey, but in my experience self employment seems valued highly in home school circles.
   I did find it fascinating that only about half (52%) of home school graduates said their parents saw all professions as equally important and valid options, and the rest was broken down between specific kinds of occupations that the parents encouraged. Again, I am not sure if this is a gender motivated statistic, or if parents were trying to encourage their child into something for which they thought their child best fitted, but I thought this a bit sad.

     37% said that their home school experience did not prepare them well for the workplace.
When asked which of 10 specific areas were positively impacted by their home school experience,
A) Work Ethic
B) Morals and Character
 C)Eagerness and Ability to learn,
     were given highest scores. 

 When asked which of those same 10 areas their home school experience did not well prepare them for their profession; the following were chosen, (even above specific education for their current occupation).

A)     Ability to promote themselves in business

B)      Understanding workplace dynamics

C)      Knowledge on how to choose or pursue a career
What these numbers suggest  to me is that homeschooling appears very effective in establishing work ethic and creating eager learners; I propose this is begun and developed in early grades.

   However high school level education, preparation for continued education, career choices and confidence in their work and knowledge seem to be areas that home school students are not well supported and left to figure out on their own.

 89% of home school graduates say they are happy in their current occupation, which is slightly higher than the national average of roughly 80% according to this article which rates the satisfaction rate of different jobs.
  Over half (61%) of home school graduates said their HS experience has benefited them in the work place, while 34% say it’s been something they had to overcome.
Whew! We will stop here for this week.
    Sections of the survey to come include questions regarding impact homeschooling had on students social life, their current religious views, the impact on parents and sibling relationships, and more.
Stay tuned!!

 This Present Mom,

 * Please keep in mind that when listing percentages below I will round up to the largest whole number, and that in some cases multiple answers were allowed, meaning the totals may surpass 100%.

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1 comment:

  1. I took your survey, Rebecca and look forward to reading more of the results!