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Homeschooling sees major increase in Florida

Hillsborough, Palm Beach and Orange counties reported the highest number of home-schooled students.
DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times 
Elyza Iusan, 26, uses manipulatives, a collection of hands-on interactive learning tools, as part of the curriculum for her six-year-old daughter, Janessa Iusan, whom she homeschools at the family's home in Spring Hill.
DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times Elyza Iusan, 26, uses manipulatives, a collection of hands-on interactive learning tools, as part of the curriculum for her six-year-old daughter, Janessa Iusan, whom she homeschools at the family's home in Spring Hill. [ DOUGLAS CLIFFORD | Times (2019) ]
Published Aug. 4

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Floridians chose to home-school their children at a much higher rate last year than in previous years, according to a report from the state Department of Education.

The newly released data reflect home-schooling numbers from the 2020-2021 school year and do not include students who used remote instruction but remained enrolled in public schools.

The report showed that 143,431 students from 100,293 families used home-education programs last year, up 35.2 percent from the number of home-schooled students during the previous year. The department wrote in the report that the upward trend in home-schooling is “believed to be a direct result of families opting out of face-to-face instruction in a classroom due to the ongoing pandemic.”

Hillsborough, Palm Beach and Orange counties reported the highest number of home-schooled students, collectively accounting for 20.3 percent of the state’s total.

Home-schooling has been on the rise for the past decade in Florida, the department’s report said. The number of families home-schooling has more than doubled since the 2010-2011 school year, when 69,281 students were reported as home-schooled.

Step Up for Students, a nonprofit organization that helps administer two state school-voucher programs, heralded the increase.

“The significant increase in home-schooling illustrates that more and more Florida families are seeking flexibility to customize their children’s education. We hope the state will continue to support giving all students access to the educational setting that works best for them,” said Scott Kent, the organization’s assistant director of strategic communications.

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