The researchers reported a very small sample size for the unstructured homeschool-family students. Based on this, they wrote that “... our exploratory analyses suggest that the unstructured homeschooled children generally score below their expected grade level on the standardized test, and that even with this small sample, performance differences are relatively substantial” (pp. 5–6).

One should keep in mind, however, that the sole measure of learning in this study is standardized tests and the students are rather young. The researchers wisely hypothetically wondered “... whether the children receiving unstructured homeschooling would eventually catch up, or even surpass, their peers given ample time” (p. 7).


Martin-Chang and her colleagues concluded that the “... evidence presented here is in line with the assumption that homeschooling offers benefits over and above those experienced in public school” (p. 6).

It will be fascinating to see whether future research that incorporates more careful controls as did these researchers continues to find an academic homeschool advantage. Are home-educated children doing well simply because only strong women, good-looking men, and above-average children choose to homeschool or because there is an advantage to home-based education that causes good effects?

Brian D. Ray, Ph.D., is president of the National Home Education Research Institute, a nonprofit research and education organization. Dr. Ray is internationally known for his research on homeschooling, and he often serves as an expert witness in courts, testifies to legislatures, and is often interviewed by the media. Brian is married to Betsy and they have eight children and four grandchildren. The Ray family lives on a small farm in western Oregon. Please feel free to send your questions about research related to home-based education and raising children to


1. Retrieved October 31, 2011, from

2. Ray, Brian D. (2010, February 3). Academic achievement and demographic traits of homeschool students: A nationwide study. Academic Leadership Journal, 8(1). Retrieved February 10, 2010 from

3. Martin-Chang, Sandra; Gould, Odette N.; Meuse, Reanne E. (2011, May 30). The impact of schooling on academic achievement: Evidence from homeschooled and traditionally schooled students. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science/Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement, pp. 1–8.

Copyright 2012. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse®Magazine, January 2012. Read this digital, interactive magazine free by visiting: or read on your Kindle Fire or Apple and Android devices by downloading the free TOS apps.

Publication date: April 19, 2012