SC Homeschool Numbers 2014-2015

Each year, accountability associations send their homeschool numbers reports to each school district. For many years, I’ve wondered where do those numbers go from there? Does anyone tally up the total number in the state? How could we find out the total?

Well, someone at the Department of Education actually has it–and gave me a copy.

The SC Department of Education conducted a survey to collect these numbers from the school districts. And here we have graphed the results from 2014-2015. The total number of homeschool students counted in the state of South Carolina was 16,815.

2014-2015 Homeschool Numbers

Disproportionate Homeschool Numbers

I can’t help but notice how disproportionate the numbers are. Homeschoolers already know that most of us are homeschooling under Option 3. And I think it’s time for us to talk about WHY we prefer 3rd Option.

Let me interrupt here to explain, in case you don’t know, what the three options mean. Option 1 homeschoolers are registered with their local school district. Option 2 homeschoolers are registered with one specific accountability association (SCAIHS). Option 3 homeschoolers are registered with one of 35 accountability associations. Click here to read more about accountability options.

Out of 81 school districts, only 94 students are registered with Option 1. Not one single district has more than 50 homeschoolers in it. Whereas 3rd Option associations are required to have a minimum of at least 50 students.

Public perception might presume the best educational opportunities occur under the school district’s oversight. Afterall, they are the experts in education, right?

Well, I chose the school district as my accountability for many years. I explain why I chose Option 1 in another post. In my experience (and others who tried Option 1), I found that the school district does not understand homeschooling. The district personnel are often ineffective–or even antagonistic–toward homeschoolers. School officials don’t have enough practice dealing with the alternative education of homeschooling.

School officials don't have enough practice dealing with the alternative education of homeschooling.

Homeschooling is not school-at-home. Homeschoolers are not required to follow the state’s standards for scope and sequence. The records we maintain are likely formatted differently than certified teachers would format records. Option 2 and Option 3 associations understand these differences from the traditional public school system. Association directors and staff are experienced homeschoolers. They provide services and guidance–even encouragement–that just isn’t available in most of Option 1.

Homeschoolers overwhelmingly choose accountability that understands and values their approach to education.

Diversity in Homeschool Numbers

These numbers also indicate diversity. Option 2 is one single accountability association. Over 2,500 homeschoolers are choosing that association. The South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools (SCAIHS) enrolls more homeschool students than some public school districts enroll public school students. But, that one association could not effectively serve the total number of homeschoolers in South Carolina.

"Normalization" means making homeschools as prevalent as private school. The next great battle for home schooling will occur in the field of public opinion, not political action.

The SC law states that 3rd Option associations have to have at least 50 students–every year. Some 3rd Option associations accept members from across the state, just like SCAIHS does. These statewide groups have equally as many students. While other associations are smaller, local organizations serving a few hundred students.

Each association sets their paperwork requirements and additional services. Some stick to the minimum required by law, issuing just basic compliance documents. Parents who choose these type associations want the freedom for curriculum choices and carry the weight of responsibility for their own transcript preparation. Other associations offer extra services to assist parents who want more guidance along the way.

The variation is a reflection of the preferences among homeschoolers. Statewide or local. Religious or not. Added guidance or not. No one single group can claim to represent all homeschoolers. There’s diversity in religious backgrounds, political preferences, educational philosophies, racial identities, and lifestyle choices. The low maintenance Option 3 associations are better equipped to advise their participants than Option 1.

Homeschoolers choose the accountability option that accommodates and facilitates their unique necessities. 

Dialogue about Homeschool Numbers

Most importantly, the numbers give us a jumping off point for meaningful dialogue.

In South Carolina, this is what the law prescribes.  The parent registers their homeschool students with an association. Then they do not need to notify the school district at all. The association reports their enrollment numbers to the school districts where the students would be zoned to attend. The association’s compliance deadline is outlined in the law by the January 30th.

Some policy makers have suggested that homeschoolers need more compliance regulations. Critics suggest that it’s not enough for us to report just our attendance numbers. But, the question we should all be asking is “where do the numbers go after that?” The law doesn’t specify.

We should be asking: "What does the district do with the homeschool numbers, if anything?"

The numbers report is a SURVEY conducted by the SC Department of Education. Of the 81 districts, five districts list zero homeschool students in their attendance zone.


None under any of the homeschool options.

I personally prepared attendance reports as the director of a local 3rd Option. I sent my reports to two of those districts who claim zero. If I have uncounted students, then how many more are not counted on this survey? Plus, the title “survey” implies that these school districts are voluntarily surrendering their numbers. Where are the numbers for those districts? What does the district do with the numbers, if anything?

While we’ve got this dialogue going. What would they do with our information if we were reporting names and birthdates and addresses and test scores? What value would that information be to the school districts? Some of our attendance numbers are floating around unaccounted. Then, how secure would our private information be? Option 1 students already give that information to the district in their reporting process. It doesn’t seem to bring significant value to their participants.

Homeschoolers choose accountability that protects their privacy and freedom.

The policy makers, the critics and the general public needs to know. We’re not hiding in Option 3. We’re choosing it for a reason. The numbers tell WHY.


See the Complete List of Option 3 Associations
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Read the SC Code of Laws
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About Kim Andrysczyk

Homeschool veteran, Association Director, coffee addict, sarcasm expert, and accidental blogger. I'm here to encourage you thru the tough times and inspire you toward excellence. If I can make it, so can you!