Dip in number of Colorado home-schoolers may be linked to surge in online enrollment
May 23, 2011
As the number of online students grows, state data indicate the number of home-schooled students is dropping, and some parents and educators see a link between the two.
The number of Colorado students enrolled in online programs jumped from 9,222 in 2007 to 15,249 in 2010, a 65 percent increase.
During the same period, enrollment in private schools dropped 18 percent and the number in traditional home-schooling fell 6 percent, according to the Colorado Department of Education data compiled by the Colorado Children’s Campaign.
In its 2011 Kids Count in Colorado report, the children’s campaign found the number of children in traditional home- school settings dropped 31 percent between 2000 and 2010.
That surprises Janice Price of Rainbow Resource Center, an Illinois-based materials supplier for home-schooling families nationwide.
Colorado has always been a solid market for Rainbow and continues to be, she said. But Price said individual orders are getting smaller, which she blames on the economy.
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If home-school enrollment is dropping that may be one reason, Price said.
Traditionally, one stay-at-home parent taught home school while the other worked. But as families face hard times, it may be that more home- schoolers need that second income, Price said.
Home schooling, she pointed out, isn’t a lark. “It costs money and it costs time.”
In Colorado, there isn’t any economic support for it, either. And that’s fine with many home-schoolers.
“We go to the legislature and say, ‘We don’t want any money, but we don’t want you making rigid controls over us, either,’ ” said Mike Chapa, executive director of Christian Home Educators of Colorado.
Chapa, though, takes issue with numbers showing a drop in home schooling.
In Colorado, parents who want to home school must notify their home district. Those notifications are the basis for state home-schooling figures.
If a home-schooling parent is a certified teacher, or if a family leaves private school for home school, the notification rule doesn’t apply.
“That’s why those numbers are just not accurate,” he said.
Chapa does believe that home-school hybrids – a class or two at a school, or online – are increasingly popular, as are school district learn-at-home programs.
“I think there’s quite a migration” to those programs, he said.
But Tillie Elvrum said she’s seeing people leave home schooling altogether. “I have many friends who have home-schooled and have now enrolled in online,” she said.
Most online schools are free. The schools are funded by the state per-pupil allotment, which follows the student to online school.
Ten years ago, online schools were so new and so few that the state didn’t even track their numbers, said Denise Mund, interim director of online education for the Colorado Department of Education.
In 2007, the state established requirements for online schools, including that teachers must be licensed and students must take the Colorado Student Assessment Program test.
Now there are 23 state-approved online programs, Mund said. The state board will consider a 24th in June, she said.
Read more: Dip in number of Colorado home-schoolers may be linked to surge in online enrollment – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_18101734?source=rsshomemiss#ixzz1NBy71MkC