More than 11% of households in the United States are home-schooling rather than sending students to public or private institutions, according to census data.
The number of home-schooled students in the U.S. has nearly doubled during the pandemic, as some parents have lost faith in traditional schools while others have opted out due to concerns over COVID-19 .
Around 2.6 million students have switched from traditional school to home-schooling since the pandemic began, according to a new report from Bellwether Education Partners, commissioned by the Walton Family Foundation.
“Over the past 18 months, the parents of an estimated 11.3 million students, or nearly one in five of the nation’s schoolchildren, did not get what they wanted from their child’s school,” the Bellwether report said. The total number of students being home-schooled in the U.S. now stands at approximately 5 million.
Census data shows that home-schooling families grew at a rapid rate from 1999 to 2012 before plateauing at around 3.3% of the entire U.S. population. Recent events, including the pandemic, caused a massive spike in families looking for alternatives to traditional learning.
The data also showed that more diverse demographics have opted to turn away from traditional learning. Approximately 9.7% of white families have retreated to home-schooling, along with 12.1% of Hispanic families, 8.8% of Asian families, and 16.1% of black families, according to the report.
School systems throughout the U.S. have reported increased rates of failure due to virtual learning. In Fairfax County, Virginia, a November report from the Office of Research and Strategic Improvement found that the percentage of failing grades was up more than 80% compared to last year’s rates — jumping from 6% to 11%.
A July report citing data from Baltimore public high school students found that at least 41% of students earned a below-D grade point average, a shift that took place after schools shuttered for online learning.
Romy Drucker, the K-12 education director at the Walton Family Foundation, claimed the U.S. education system has been slow to innovate and the pandemic exposed some of its flaws to parents who were on the fence about adjusting their children’s education plan.
“Parents want greater personalization, and this seems like a trend that’s here to stay,” Drucker said. “Schools will have to earn back the trust of parents.”