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Homeschool students excel beyond their peers in private, charter, and public schools on the Classic Learning Test, a rigorous standardized college entrance exam oriented toward classically educated students.
The exam utilizes reading passages from classic texts written by individuals “whose writings have had a lasting influence on culture and society” rather than the informational passages and more contemporary writings often used in the SAT and ACT. The test, on which students can earn a maximum of 120 points, claims to more easily “differentiate students at the upper tail of the distribution” than conventional college entrance exams.
An analysis of Classic Learning Test outcomes by Houston Christian University professor Lisa Treleaven found that homeschool students who took the exam earned mean scores of roughly 78 points, surpassing private school students, who earned mean scores of 75, and charter school students, who earned mean scores of 73. Public school students earned mean scores of 66, marking the lowest among the cohorts considered by the study.
“This is consistent with prior research findings of superior academic performance of homeschool students as compared to other school types,” wrote Treleaven. The analysis was based on data from more than 12,000 students who took the Classic Learning Test between 2016 and 2021.
Classic Learning Test CEO Jeremy Tate, who created the exam in 2015, postulated that the freestyle structure offered by home education could provide an advantage over students in private school settings.
“Homeschooled students simply have more time for leisure reading,” he told The Daily Wire. “We forget that the word school derives from Greek scholē, originally meaning leisure. The connection between leisure and learning is profound. Factory model schooling is antithetical to leisure, but is common for homeschooled students who are given the time and space to immerse themselves in great literature.”
Homeschool students especially excelled beyond their peers on the verbal and writing portions of the Classic Learning Test while scoring at parity with private school and charter school students on the quantitative segment. Treleaven noted that her study adds to the current literature because of her large sample size and her lack of “affiliation or compensation from homeschool or educational advocacy groups.” She nevertheless noted the need for further research that does not rely upon a self-selected sample.
Other studies have shown that homeschooled students achieve significantly better results on conventional standardized exams than the national average. Homeschoolers typically score 15 to 30 percentile points higher than their public school counterparts, while black homeschoolers likewise score 23 to 42 percentile points above black public school students, according to data from the National Home Education Research Institute.
The analysis of the Classic Learning Test results occurs after an unprecedented number of families removed their children from public schools in response to pandemic-related lockdown measures that dealt a severe blow to learning outcomes. The most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress showed average reading scores for nine-year-olds plummeting five points and average mathematics scores falling seven points over the past two years, with students belonging to racial minority groups posting especially severe learning losses. Particularly in urban school districts, teachers unions played a pivotal role in extending virtual instruction well into 2021, a reality that the White House recently denied.
Disruptions caused by lockdowns may cost the economy between $128 billion and $188 billion per year, according to an estimate from consulting firm McKinsey & Company.