For a growing number of Florida families, back-to-school season doesn’t mean a return to the classroom, per se. In the past several years, the state’s home education programs have grown faster than most of its school districts.
That remained true last year, even though growth in homeschool enrollment slowed considerably, according to the latest annual report, released this week by the state Department of Education.
The report is based on data collected by school districts, which help keep track of home education students. It shows the number of students enrolled in home education grew 1.7 percent last school year, its slowest growth rate since 2008. That still outpaced enrollment increases in the state’s 2.7 million-student public school system, which grew by less than 1 percent.
And by another measure – the number of participating families – home education grew more quickly.
Statewide, nearly 57,000 families chose to homeschool their children in the 2013-14 school year, a 4.6 percent increase from the year before. There’s also some significant variations in homeschool participation in different parts of the state.
Duval County, Florida’s sixth-largest school district, has the largest number of homeschool students and accounted for 7.7 percent of the state total. The largest district, Miami-Dade County, is home to less than 5 percent of Florida’s homeschool students, and has fewer than some smaller districts like Orange and Brevard, according to the report.
While the top 10 school districts remained the same in both 2012-13 and 2013-14, there were some shifts. The share of home-education students coming from Hillsborough declined, but the share in Pasco increased.