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Why Most Parents Home School: Safety, Drugs, and Peer Pressure, Study Finds

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A new federal report aims to shed some light on one of the hardest groups in education to pin down data on: home schoolers.

The U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics released a report this month with estimates on the number of home schoolers in the U.S. as well as other key characteristics about the group.

The report bases the estimates on a sample from survey data collected between 1999 and 2012.

It estimates there are about 1.8 million students home schooling in the U.S., which is only a sliver—about 3.4 percent—of the total K-12 population. Although a small portion, that percentage doubled between 1999 and 2012.

A large majority of home schooling parents said they chose to home school their children because of concerns over the environment in their original schools. Ninety-one percent said factors such as safety, drugs, or negative peer pressure helped drive them to home school their children.

Most home schoolers are white, and are more likely to live in rural areas and in households with incomes above the poverty line.

To break that down a bit more: 83 percent of home schoolers are white, 41 percent live in rural areas, 28 percent in suburbs, 21 percent in cities, and 10 percent live in towns.

Nine in 10 home schoolers live in households with incomes above the poverty line.

More than 30 percent of middle and high school home schoolers took online courses. Of those, 25 percent took courses through a district school, 22 percent from a charter school, and 21 percent through a private school.

An estimated 26 percent of home schooling parents have a bachelor's degree, while 18 percent had a masters.

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