More than 22,620 Texas secondary students who stopped showing up for class in 2008 were excluded from the state’s dropout statistics because administrators said they were being home-schooled, according to Texas Education Agency figures.
But that’s where the scrutiny of this growing population seems to end, leaving some experts convinced that schools are disguising thousands of middle and high school dropouts in this hands-off category.
While home-schooling’s popularity has increased, the rate of growth concentrated in Texas’ high school population is off the chart: It’s nearly tripled in the last decade, including a 24 percent jump in a single year.
“That’s just ridiculous,” said Brian D. Ray, founder of the National Home Education Research Institute. “It doesn’t sound very believable.”
Texas’ lax documentation and hands-off practices make it impossible to know how many of these students are actually being taught at home. It also opens the door to abuse of the designation, which could help school districts avoid the sanctions that come with high dropout rates, experts said.