There are a number of reasons why it is important to distinguish between the two:

Virtual Charter Schools like Hoosier Academy are state funded. In fact, they are public schools. Because of their public school status, students must take mandated assessments such as the ISTEP; and parents delegate the instruction of their children to the public school staff. Parents are NOT able to choose the curriculum; the parents must choose approved curriculum from the Charter School. Homeschools are, on the other hand, funded by the family. Because of this, families are free to choose curriculum that is unique to each child, not complete the ISTEP (which again is proving problematic).

However, a larger issue is comparing academic performance between Homeschooled children and children educated in Virtual Charter Schools. According to the National Home Education Research Institute:

+The home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. (The public school average is the 50th percentile; scores range from 1 to 99.)
+Homeschool students score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents’ level of formal education or their family’s household income.
+Whether homeschool parents were ever certified teachers is not related to their children’s academic achievement.
+Degree of state control and regulation of homeschooling is not related to academic achievement.
+Home-educated students typically score above average on the SAT and ACT tests that colleges consider for admissions.
+Homeschool students are increasingly being actively recruited by colleges.

On the other hand, the National Education Policy Center conducted a study on online charter schools.

In a national study of online charter schools operated by K12, Inc., only 27.7% of K12 schools reported meeting Adequate Yearly Progress in 2010 -11. This is nearly identical to the overall performance of ALL private Education Management organizations that operate full-time virtual schools, which is 27.4%.

The mean performance on state math and reading assessments of K12-operated virtual schools are between 2 – 11 percentage points below state averages in reading; and between 14 – 36 percentage points lower in math.

The on-time graduation rate for the K12 schools is only 49.1%, compared to a 79.4% rate for public schools.

A bit closer to home:
The Hoosier Academy Virtual Charter School has received the grade of F from the Indiana Department of Education in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. (For more details – see www.wthr.com/story/27320868/2014/11/06/nearly-half-of-indianas-charter-schools-doing-poorly-or-failing)
The danger to “real homeschoolers” is that IF in-home public school programs are regarded as “homeschools,” it will be much more difficult for lawmakers to see the differences between them, making it more difficult for private homeschoolers to obtain legal protections. Therefore there must be strict adherence to a narrow definition of the word homeschool.

Michele Andrews

Michele Andrews

Michele Andrews is a full-blown Hoosier and Waynedaler. She was born in a Fort Wayne hospital then followed her mom and dad home to Waynedale. She has seen bits and pieces of the world while serving a stint in the United States Navy. The farthest bit being St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer