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State statistics support that home school is growing in popularity. The Arkansas Department of Education released its most recent annual home schooling report, with statistics from the 2017-18 year.

The report shows 4,009 children in Benton and Washington counties received their education at home during the 2017-18 school year, a 4.3 percent from the previous year -- far outpacing the 1.9 percent growth rate of enrollment in the area's public schools.

Home-schooling

Home-schooled children by Northwest Arkansas school district.

District*2016-17 school year*2017-18 school year*Percent change

Bentonville*1,010*1,021*1.1

Decatur*33*32*-3.0

Elkins*39*46*17.9

Farmington*114*108*-5.3

Fayetteville*398*381*-4.3

Gentry*111*100*-9.9

Gravette*196*192*-2.0

Greenland*59*67*13.5

Lincoln*67*77*14.9

Pea Ridge*110*134*21.8

Prairie Grove*92*98*6.5

Rogers*720*798*10.8

Siloam Springs*292*335*14.7

Springdale*520*546*5.0

West Fork*81*74*-8.6

Benton County*2,460*2,612*6.2

Washington County*1,368*1,397*2.1

NWA Total*3,842*4,009*4.3

State Total*19,520*20,331*4.1

Source: Staff report

The report showed a record 20,331 students in grades kindergarten through 12 across the state were home-schooled, up 4.1 percent from the previous year and up 30 percent from a decade earlier. It was equal to 4.2 percent of all students enrolled in Arkansas public schools.

Benton County led the state with 2,612 home-schooled students, nearly double that of Washington County. Bentonville led all school districts with 1,021, a 1.1 percent increase from the prior year. Pulaski County Special School District was second with 892.

State law requires every child ages 5 through 17 be enrolled in a public or private school unless a child is home-schooled. Parents who choose to home school are required to notify the superintendent of the school district in which they live. Meeting this annual requirement maintains legal home school status for the parents or guardians. Districts must submit a copy of each form to the Arkansas Department of Education.

Arkansas has no educational requirements for parents who provide a home school for their children. The students do not need to pass the GED or have a diploma to apply to college or qualify for financial aid.

School districts are not required to accept part-time students from home schools or private schools, although the state does have a funding mechanism for districts that allow home-schooled students to enroll part time.

State data show home-schooled students are spread fairly evenly across the grade levels, ranging from a low of 1,373 in first grade to a high of 2,017 in the 11th grade in 2017-18.

In Pea Ridge, as of Feb. 5, there were 125 home-schooled students, according to school officials.

The Pea Ridge Community Library assists homeschooled students with art and STEAM classes. An art class is hosted on the third Friday of every month for ages 4-18 and there are craft-related activities several times a month. Director Alex Wright said starting this month, the library will host "In the grand S.T.E.A.M. of things" classes. She said, "STEAM is an education approach to learning that uses science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue and critical thinking."

Wright said she also hopes to begin history and homemaker classes.

The challenges of home schooling, as frequently cited in online blogs, include the amount of time it takes parents to prepare and administer lessons and the stress that comes with taking on the teaching role. That investment of time also may mean reduced income for a family because a parent isn't able to work.

The number of home-schooled students in the United States more than doubled from 850,000 in 1999 to about 1.8 million in 2012, according to a 2016 report by the National Center for Education Statistics. Most home-schooled students were white (83 percent) and not poor (89 percent) as of 2012. Students were considered poor if they were living in households with incomes below the poverty threshold.

General News on 02/20/2019

Print Headline: Home-schooled numbers up 4.3 percent in northwest Arkansas

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