While many home-schoolers say, anecdotally, they can see the positive results of their practice, it's difficult to come by scientific research proving its effectiveness.
According to the College Board, home-schoolers taking the ACT did score higher on the test in 2005 than those who weren't home-schooled. Home-schoolers scored an average of 22.5, compared with a 20.9 average overall.
But a spokesman for the College Board says the organization is "cautious" about reporting those numbers, in part, because home-schoolers make up a small proportion of test-takers.
Many who home school point to research done by Brian Ray, who founded the National Home Education Research Institute, based in Salem, Ore. His research has found, among other things, that home-educated students' scores on standardized achievement tests are at or above the 80th percentile.
But Robert Reich, a Stanford University professor of political science who has written about the need to regulate home schooling, calls into question the value of data generated by organizations whose mission is to further home education. There's no reason to dismiss the research out of hand, he says.
"I would suggest, however, that we treat the findings : in the same way that people treat the research on nicotine addiction funded by tobacco companies: with a very large dose of skepticism," he writes in an essay for the book "Home Schooling in Full View."
Ray didn't return a message from the Journal-World seeking comment for this series.
Mickey Imber, a Kansas University education professor, says home schooling success is determined on such a case-by-case basis that it's difficult to research.
"It's foolish to say it's impossible for a home school student to do as well or better than a public school student," Imber says. "On the other hand, the rhetoric of the home school movement suggests any parent with any plan, who home schools for any reason, can do just as good a job as the public schools. I think that's just as foolish."