My kid is not named Data

Interesting conglomeration of articles and posts and information about counting homeschoolers recently.  I was just reading Dana Hanley's most recent article in Heart of the Matter.  The HotM article is chock full of information, but the comments also got my attention as Sallie noted this:

Dana — The Marine Corps is now conducting a poll, at least on the west coast, to get an accurate number of homeschool families within its ranks, and all because of the hubbub of California. I will definitely be staying on top of this story because of that!

Great article!

God bless,
Sallie

No oo-rahs for that military effort.

Dana followed Sallie's comment noting there and in her blog that a Nebraska legislator unfriendly to homeschoolers has a proposed resolution [LR 369] for more homeschool data because of her apparent problem with the increase in homeschoolers. 

Fortunately, in Illinois, there is little scientific data about any increase (or decrease) or maintaining of the homeschool population.  We do not report to the state.  The ISBE business of trying to coax families to fill out a Home School Registration Form should always be considered unfortunate.  It's non-mandated. As evident on their website, a question of why ISBE puts its time and effort into Home Schools when homeschoolers are compulsory attendance exempt, reveals information some might want to ponder. 

But back to the Count and Data issue.  Unfortunately, some in the homeschool community are joining the fray with some data searches.  I like to follow trails and Mary at HEM Homeschool Support and Networking has several of note in three recent posts:

NHERI & their Surveys by Mary McCarthy

Among other background information, this quote was pointed out from the NHERI site; from Kay Coles James, Virginia State Cabinetmember

“Whoever has the data controls the policy.”  (NHERI.org/The-Impact-of-NHERI.html)

Personally, I haven't been been particularly happy with any HSLDA interference with national and Illinois legislation, I'm sorry to say.  This is not comforting:

NHERI IMPACTS – The Courts

"Ongoing quality home-schooling research is essential for success in both courts and legislatures. Your participation with NHERI is vital." Michael Farris, President, Home School Legal Defense Assoc.

Wise words came from this article by Harvey Bluedorn back in 2003 at a time when HSLDA went through Illinois Senator Rutherford to present a state "home school" bill.  Senator Rutherford was trying to be helpful, but backed out when he learned what IL homeschoolers didn't want in the form of "home school" legislation.


Looking at this link below, I wonder how much input was taken from all parents about their children's test results being used in these "independent evaluations".  HSLDA is touting state education department stats, of all things:

II. State Department of Education Statistics on Homeschoolers

Several state departments of education or local school districts have also gathered statistics on the academic progress of homeschooled children.

Tennessee
In the spring of 1987, the Tennessee Department of Education found that homeschooled children in 2nd grade, on the average, scored in the 93rd percentile while their public school counterparts, on the average, scored in the 62nd percentile on the Stanford Achievement Test…..

Unfortunately, there are more states listed at the site.  Question being, HSLDA rightly states that homeschool parents don't need to be certified, but what is HSLDA pushing regarding testing? They did mention it in findings in the HoNDA bill written by HSLDA and presented in the Senate and House:

(3) Education by parents at home has proven to be an effective means for young people to achieve success on standardized tests and to learn valuable socialization skills.

Here's some background in HEM from Kathleen McCurdy, founder of Washington Family Learning Organization:

Testing History

An Ohio homeschooler got a surprise in her testing packet this year in the form of a NHERI survey.  Mary listed some more links about what could and can and has been done with this data:

Homeschooler surprised by survey in test packet

I say to homeschoolers that even as we can't control the huge entity called public education and their compelling interests, that I hope they refuse to be counted or surveyed, if at all possible.  Then we can protect ourselves from potential financial gains on the backs of our homeschooled kids.

I have kids who love standardized tests and do well by them.  I have other kids who don't.  But yet they're all educated and thriving.  Let's protect the ones who don't do well in the narrow bounds of a Number 2 sharpened pencil and filling in blanks.  Homeschoolers shouldn't have to teach to a test.  NCLB requires this in public schools.  It's turned ugly and we don't need that as a looming prospect.  Especially from our own homeschool community.


Comments

My kid is not named Data — 13 Comments

  1. Exactly. What she said!

    I test my children in order to get them used to the concept of standardized tests, as they will eventually be faced with them when they pursue college degrees. However, I don’t use those test (even though my children score well) to judge their level of education.

    (Nor do I wave them under my anti-homeschooling relatives noses, however tempted I am!)

    [Reply]

  2. We do the same. Texas has several of those tests online that we can use w/o charge.

    They’re totally anonymous except to us.

    I just look at that piece of it as a tool that can be used in a positive way. It’s a very small piece of what we do for their education.

    [Reply]

  3. Interesting post.

    I’m really suprised at the depth of the anti-homeschooling in many places. Heck, in AK where I live there are no requirements at all, you just have to say you are homeschooling and that’s it. If you want to take the yeaerly tests and show work samples every quarter, they even pay for your supplies to homeschool and give you a free computer. Homeschooling is very popular and supported among the public and pols.

    But this post is a good warning at how quickly this can turn around.

    [Reply]

  4. We get all kinds of stuff in the mail that indicate that our name.address had to have originated with the schools (even though we do not use them). The data is there—and disseminated–even though we ask them not to do so.

    [Reply]

  5. Core, you’ve likely seen this information already. I heard about it here.

    Debra, I wish that you Ohio folks didn’t have to supply anything to the schools. Abuse of data seems to be the norm, with little or no accountability.

    While they worry about homeschool accountability. Very strange world we live in…

    [Reply]

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  7. Well stated. I also have the problem of a child who does well on tests and another who does not.

    My own experience with tests has taught me that they are not the best measurement of learning. (Although in our area, they seem to be a good measurement for property values.) We should not be teaching children to learn in order to pass a test, a test should be a tool to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses in subject areas.

    I love your title, by the way!

    [Reply]

  8. Thanks for coming by, Cristina!

    At an OH homeschool conference, a young mom told me the same thing about property values/test scores. She realized the ‘importance’ of this in our society. It was a good reminder to me.
    The basis of our American educational society now is often counter to what we do in observations and evaluations of our homeschooled kids every day.
    At the same time, a Chicago ‘burb that is known as one of the best public schools also seems to have some high stress levels for the kids.

    [Reply]

  9. I’d be very afraid of testing. Some of my children are high-functioning autistic. One has sensory integration issues and that catchall we call ADHD. They are intelligent but would BOMB any sit-down test.

    And if the tests are tied to whether we can continue to homeschool, the public school would be able to take my kids regardless of the quality of my teaching.

    You know, we LEFT the public schools with the younger children because they locked my autistic boy in the closet constantly. I shudder to think what would happen to him if the school KNEW they had control of my child and there was nothing I could do about it.

    [Reply]

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