Homeschooling is one of the controversial approaches to educate children with 'special needs'. Students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are preferred to be taught at home by their parents. Instructors for homeschooling are also arranged for this purpose. However, there has been widespread criticism on this method of teaching attention-deficit students. The main purpose of this paper is to review a qualitative study conducted on the topic of providing homeschooling to attention-deficit students. Duvall, Delquadri and Ward (2004) conducted a study to investigate the appropriateness of homeschooling environment for instructing basic skills to children with special needs. The main purpose of this qualitative study was to ascertain whether or not parents of children having attention-deficit as well as hyperactivity disorder could provide their children with instructional environmental that was conducive for facilitating acquisition of basic skills by their children.
Description of participants/sample
Four students were made part of this research as participants of the study. All four students had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder being diagnosed to them. The main category of ADHD students that were selected as sample was suffering from 'inattentiveness syndrome'. In order to provide relative benchmark for comparing experiences of homeschooled and regularly educated students, the sample was selected from a population of 33 local students. Out of these total 33 students, 23 got their early education at school whereas 10 received early instruction at their homes. An elaborate method of sample selection was deployed by the researchers. Only those students were included in the sample that did not receive any medication for ADHD since medical treatments results in mismatches with respect to their results in assessed categories. Each homeschooled child was paired with public school child according to significant scores. The main tools for this pairing according to significant score were:
2- Home Situations Questionnaire-Revised (Barkley, 1990, 1991)
3- School Situations Questionnaire-Revised (Barkley, 1990, 1991)
Students with difference of 15 or less scores were paired with each other. The main tests used for obtaining these achievement scores were Broad Reading and Broad Math standard scores on Johnson Tests of Achievement-Revised [WJ-R]; rate-based scores in reading and math, IQ, grade, sex, and socioeconomic status.
Research Design/Data Collection
Continuous baseline probe design of research was used by Duvall, et al. (2004) to investigate the research problem. This method was initially used by same researcher (Duvall) in 1997. This method was used in this study to examine the comparison of homeschooling and public schooling with respect to two main factors i.e. active academic engagement and achievement gains over time. The dependent measures in this research design were (1) Eco-behavioral Assessment Systems Software (EBASS; Juniper Gardens Children's Project, 1993) codes (e.g., academic engagement levels); (2) WJ-R subtest scores (3) Rate-based measures based on Kaufman Tests of Educational Achievement (Kaufman & Kaufman, 1985) (4) Consumer satisfaction questionnaires. Dependent measures were also identified that were direct observations related to academic engagement, parent behavior regarding instructing, student behavior, and ecological features assessed through EBASS.
Data collection and data analysis
The case study involved three students: two male and one female. Both observational and quantitative data were used in evaluating the efficacy of the program. The students were observed using the Mainstream Version of the Code for Instructional Structure and Student Academic Response (MS-CISSAR), "an eco-behavioral direct classroom observation instrument that produces information on ecological, teacher, and student behavior processes" and their standardized test scores were also taken into consideration (Duvall et al., 2004).
The direct observations of students using the MS-CISSAR suggested that students were more often engaged with the instructors and experienced greater gains in measures of both reading and math than public school students with similar demographic profiles in a conventional classroom environment. The results suggested that rather than inhibiting student learning, homeschooling is a valuable alternative strategy for students with ADHD. This is significant given that it has been estimated that 3% to 5% of all school children have ADHD.
Direct observation was explicitly reported in the results section of the study. First the dependent measures hose result was reported titled as 'student behavior'. Academic Engagement Time (AET) was reported to be more for homeschooled child from first pair with a score of 22-55.7 whereas that of public schooled child was 10.5-38. It was also displayed through fig 1 in the study that AET and student teacher ratio had inverse relationship. The less number of teachers per students resulted in reduced AET. However, when three dependent measures were combined such as AET, task management, and competing behavior percentage, results were 52.5 (homeschooled) vs. 24.6 (public school), 27.9 vs. 30.1, and 34.0 vs. 52.6, respectively. The article also observed that "The homeschooled student in Pair 1 reported equal or lower satisfaction ratings than her public school peer as they related to issues surrounding achievement and instruction. However, concerning these same issues, the satisfaction ratings by the students in Pair 2 yielded no pattern" (Duvall, et al., 2004).
Learning disabilities are by nature very individualized, and three students with ADHD are not necessarily representative of the larger whole. In particular, the ADHD population comprises a wide range of students in terms of academic ability and socioeconomic status, spanning from the very gifted to the academically challenged. To answer these concerns, the study focused only on students with a primarily inattentive (versus a hyperactive) form of ADHD and students were not on any medications because of parental objections. These decisions were made not to cloud the study with any additional variables, but it also resulted in a population which has very specific characteristics that may not be generalized to the wider LD population (i.e., the students may be less innately inhibited by their disorder than hyperactive students and/or students on medication). Another concern which is not addressed is social interactions with the student's peer group.
Threats to validity or undocumented bias
One of the concerns about homeschooling is that students are unable to build daily social relationships in an age-appropriate fashion. Although the academic engagement with the parental instructor was observed and characterized as more engaged than students in a public school setting, student interactions with peers could not be taken into consideration. Given that ADHD students often have social as well as academic problems, this is a significant limitation of the study. And even with the limited sampling, there was considerable variance amongst responses. "The homeschooled student in Pair 1 reported equal or lower satisfaction ratings than her public school peer as they related to issues surrounding achievement and instruction. However, concerning these same issues, the satisfaction ratings by the students in Pair 2 yielded no pattern" (Duvall, et al., 2004).
Original insight or criticism
The study did strive to provide original knowledge in the existing literature on homeschooled children. However, the sample size was too limited to enable the general reader to draw conclusions. For instance the researcher's sample size selection was too limited and parents having children with ADHD disorder may not be able to convince themselves for initiating public schooling of their children. There were however some useful insights regarding the behavior responses of homeschooled children. It was observed that social skills of publicly schooled children were better as compared to the home-schooled children. This was displayed when homeschooled children scored poorer as compared to public schooled children on the factors of task management and competitiveness. At best, the study answers one of the most significant arguments against homeschooling, namely that parents who home school do not have sufficient academic credentials to teach their children. The improved academic performance of these students indicates otherwise. But once again, parental qualifications may vary, and the standards for parents to homeschooled are unlikely to be as rigorous…