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Good Question: Are Home-Schooled Students Better Off?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- One of the standouts in this year's National Spelling Bee was home-schooled 6-year-old Lori Anne Madison.

Home-schoolers only make up about 2 percent of American students. But, as in previous years, they make up more than 10 percent of National Spelling Bee contestants.

This begs the question: Are home-schooled students better off?

Minnetonka High School senior Aude Lefranc was home-schooled until 10th grade, when she began taking classes at Minnetonka High School. She said there are pros and cons to each type of learning.

"There were a lot of personal study skills that I learned in home school," she said. "One of the reasons I wanted to go to public school was the AP classes, which you can't really take when you are home-schooled."

Mary Beth Wiig, a Minnetonka High School guidance counselor, said many home-schoolers will attend public high school seeking an academic challenge.

"The parents have shared with me that they can't teach the curriculum beyond a certain point," Wiig said.

As for success at competitions, Lefranc thinks home-school kids spend more time on one subject.

"It allows you to focus and succeed on more narrow topics," she said.

However, she says there are some big misconceptions about home-schooled kids.

"They think that people who are home-schooled are socially awkward, so when they meet me they find it hard to believe I was home-schooled for most of my life," she said.

Wiig said home-schoolers tend to do well socially.

"I find that most of the kids that come in from home schooling have some kind of interaction with clubs they belong to outside of school," she said.

Lefranc says there are advantages to both being home-schooled and going to public school.

"I think it's just a learning technique," she said. "I would definitely say in public school you get to know a little about everything, but being home-schooled you focus more on one thing."

Lefranc will be attending University of Wisconsin-Madison next year; she plans to study biomedical engineering.

She credits both her home schooling and her public schooling with her academic success.

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