I have said many times that people should not trust government statistics on homeschooling for a variety of reasons, but this story is absolutely shocking.
The public school system for at least one Florida county has been dramatically inflating its graduation rates by classifying students who drop out of high school as homeschoolers. (County officials said that they modeled their record-keeping off of the practices of another school district, which is why I suggest that they are not the only district engaged in this specific form of fraud. It would be interesting for the state to re-examine the reporting of top-rated districts, who claim up to 100% graduation rates.)
Manatee County Schools was caught because Florida state law requires homeschoolers to submit a letter of intent to homeschool from parents or guardians to proceed with homeschooling, and Florida homeschoolers (like us) have to undergo annual evaluations with a certified teacher to demonstrate that their child is making academic progress.
When the county was audited by the state department of education, state investigators discovered the county had no such records for most (71%) of their “homeschooled” students. They figured out that was not because families that were legally homeschooling were not following the law, but that the district was fraudulently creating homeschoolers to mask the district’s own poor academic performance.
Millions of American families are legitimately choosing to homeschool their children these days. But a lot of problems lurk behind official data on school choice.