Date of Award

12-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Major Professor

Michael Waugh

Committee Members

Katherine Greenberg, Gary Skolits, Sherry Bell

Abstract

The school choice option of homeschooling has grown rapidly over the past two decades. An estimated 1.77 million K-12 students in the United States (3.4% of the total school-age population) were being homeschooled during the 2011-2012 school year. The purpose of this study was to gather data from homeschooling parents that would contribute to the understanding of parental involvement with school choice and of parental involvement with educational organizations. More specifically, this study determined the proportion of families in the sample (N = 333) who had children enrolled in public or private school before making the decision to homeschool and the proportion who reported homeschooling a child with special educational needs (SEN). Additionally, parents’ perceptions about their participation in homeschool support groups and factors important to their decision to homeschool were explored.

This quantitative study used descriptive and inferential methodologies. School choice history (whether or not the family had a child in public or private school before making the decision to homeschool) and special educational needs (SEN) status (whether or not the family reported homeschooling a child with SEN) were used as independent variables. Data analysis consisted of an examination of correlations between the independent variables and parents’ perceptions of (a) homeschool support group participation, (b) opportunities for parental involvement with the homeschool support group, and (c) factors important to parents’ decision to homeschool.

The results of the study indicated that 50.8% of participating families had a child who attended public or private school before the family decided to homeschool. In the group of families who had a child who attended public or private before the family decided to homeschool, 60.6% of the families indicated they were currently homeschooling a child with SEN. Overall, the special educational needs of a child was rated as the least important factor in parents’ decision to homeschool. However, for families who were currently homeschooling a child with SEN, this factor was significantly more important. The desire to be more involved with their children’s education was rated as the most important factor in the decision to homeschool.

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