Neely Spence wins Cross Country Championships

by Howard Richman

[This article first appeared in Issue 97 (Winter, 2006-2007) of the PENNSYLVANIA HOMESCHOOLERS® newsletter.]

Each Fall for the past 4 years, Susan and I have tested homeschooled students at locations throughout Pennsylvania using the TerraNova 2nd Edition standardized achievement test.

I took a close look at the statistics when Susan was putting together the article about whether calculator use helped this yearís students do better on the math tests. (Calculators didnít help at all in 8th grade and only helped a tiny bit in fifth grade.) I did however, discover a very clear trend: Homeschoolers improve as they get older with their Language scores when compared to school students as shown in the graph on the below.

In third grade, the 488 third graders that we tested from 2004 through 2006 scored at an average national percentile of 65%. In fifth grade the 494 students scored at an average national percentile of 69%, and in 8th grade, the 558 students that we tested scored at an average national percentile of 75%. In other words, the homeschooled third graders, on average, scored higher than 65% of school students, the fifth graders scored higher than 69% of school students and the eighth graders scored higher than 75% of schooled students.

It is hard to say why homeschoolers improve so much, compared with school students, on this particular subtest. The results for the reading and math subtests are not nearly so clear cut. In grades 3, 5, and 8, thomeschoolers go from from 73 to 71 to 76 in reading and from 63 to 69 to 67 in math.

One possibility is that more homeschooled students come to love and to do more writing then school students. Another possibility is simply that homeschoolers tend to delay punctuation and composition instruction, but that they learn it quite well once they do tackle it.


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