Home education up 39% in Minnesota since 2017 school year

An analysis of school district data reveals the dramatic rise in homeschooling prompted by COVID-19 and school closure decisions “has largely sustained itself through the 2022-23 academic year, defying predictions that most families would return to schools” once mask mandates were dropped and in-person learning resumed, reports The Washington Post.

In Minnesota, homeschool student enrollment is up 39 percent since the 2017-18 school year, according to data The Post collected. Neighboring Wisconsin’s homeschool enrollment has increased 33 percent, North Dakota 38 percent, and South Dakota 94 percent. Homeschooling in blue states like California and Rhode Island is up 78 percent and 91 percent, with New York coming in at a 103 percent increase in homeschool student enrollment.

“The growth demonstrates home schooling’s arrival as a mainstay of the American educational system,” continues The Post.

The Post‘s analysis also includes a database where you can look up available district homeschool numbers. For example, the White Bear Lake school district has seen a 73 percent increase in homeschool enrollment since the 2017-18 school year; the St. Cloud school district has seen a 49 percent increase; the Minneapolis school district has seen a 27 percent increase.

Families are choosing this learning environment for a variety of reasons, crossing “every measurable line of politics, geography and demographics,” The Post continues. “… It is a remarkable expansion for a form of instruction that 40 years ago was still considered illegal in much of the country.”

While homeschooling numbers have dropped from their COVID peak in most school districts The Post gathered data on, “even in those places it remains elevated well above pre-pandemic levels.”

Minnesota homeschool law requires parents who don’t hold a Minnesota teaching license or who haven’t completed a teacher competency examination to administer a standardized, norm-referenced test annually to their homeschool students between the ages of 7-17. If the student scores at the 30th percentile or lower, or one grade level below the performance level of children the same age, state law requires further testing. If the homeschool is accredited, it is exempt from the testing requirement.

Check out my colleague Kathy Kersten’s spring 2023 Thinking Minnesota article for more on the Minnesota families who are finding homeschooling a challenging but fulfilling alternative to other learning environments.

Percentage Increase in Total Homeschool Student Enrollment
Since the 2017-18 School Year