STEP #2:
Know the Law & Rules


Iowa homeschooling laws & rules
may seem complicated at first.
Here's a simple explanation, including:
•  3 Levels of Public School Involvement
•  5 Legal Options for Homeschooling in Iowa


Compulsory School Attendance Age in Iowa
Compulsory School Attendance Age

This is the age range defined by law in which the state has jurisdiction over resident children's educational programs.

In Iowa, the compulsory school attendance age span is 6-16, with the cut-off date date for determining age on September 15 each year. 

If, on September 15, your child is age 6 or older, yet younger than 16, your child is of compulsory school attendance age, and you must either enroll your child in an accredited public or private school or you must use a legally defined private instruction alternative.

Note: Five-year-olds who have been enrolled in a public school are considered to be of compulsory school attendance age under Iowa homeschooling laws and rules.

Public School Involvement Levels
Available for Homeschooled Students


No Involvement

Parents can choose not to enroll their children at any level in the public school.


Dual Enrollment

Public schools in Iowa must provide the option for students to dual-enroll.

Parents choose whether or not to dual-enroll their students.

Public schools receive state funds for each dual-enrolled student.

Dual-enrolled students can access classes, extracurricular activities, special education services, post-secondary enrollment options, and other such resources through the public school.



Home School Assistance

Accredited public schools in Iowa have the option to provide a HSAP.

If the resident public school provides a HSAP, parents choose whether or not to HSAP-enroll their students.

Public schools receive state funds for each HSAP-enrolled student.

HSAP-enrolled students are assigned a supervising teacher employed by the school. HSAPs can legally impose additional requirements not specified in the Iowa homeschooling laws and rules.

Be aware that there is a connection between receiving state-funded resources and the need to submit to government oversight and regulation.


Private Instruction Options
Available Under Iowa Law:


INDEPENDENT  Private Instruction


Independent Private Instruction (IPI) was added into the Iowa Code in 2013 and is defined as instruction that is:

• not accredited,
• enrolls not more than four unrelated students,
• does not charge tuition, and
• provides private or religious-based instruction in mathematics, reading, language arts, science, and social studies.

IPI has no initial reporting requirements, but school district officials may request (in written form only) specific details about the IPI program.

If a written request is received from the school district, parents can use an IPI Response Form provided by Homeschool Iowa to reply.


IPI does not give access to dual enrollment or HSAP enrollment.


Competent Private Instruction

with NO Reporting

Competent Private Instruction (CPI) with Opt-Out Reporting was also added in 2013, through an amendment process separate from the one that added IPI.

It was created with a simple change of the word “shall” to “may” in the existing Competent Private Instruction section of the Iowa Code.

This allows parents to choose not to report to the public school – with no submission of a CPI report form at the beginning of the school year and no submission of annual assessment results at the end of the school year.


CPI with No Reporting
is defined as instruction that:

• uses a plan and course of study in a setting other than a public or accredited private school.


CPI with No Reporting does not give access to dual enrollment or HSAP enrollment.


Competent Private Instruction

with Reporting

Competent Private Instruction (CPI) with Reporting includes a requirement for the filing of an annual CPI Report Form, and it can be provided in any of these ways:


CPI with Reporting
& Annual Assessment

is defined as instruction that results in the student demonstrating adequate progress through one of these means of annual assessment:

• reporting standardized test scores,
• reporting evaluation results from student portfolio assessment by an Iowa licensed teacher, or
• submitting an end-of-the-year report from an accredited correspondence school in which the student has been enrolled.



CPI with Reporting
& Parent-Selected Teacher Supervision

is defined as instruction by or under the supervision of a parent-selected teacher with an Iowa teaching license that is appropriate to the age and grade level of the student.



CPI with Reporting
& HSAP-Assigned Teacher Supervision

is accessed through enrollment in a public school Home School Assistance Program (HSAP), if available. This is defined as instruction under the supervision of an appropriately licensed teacher assigned by the HSAP, and under the rules and requirements of the HSAP.


CPI with Reporting does give access to dual enrollment or HSAP enrollment, if desired.

These listed homeschooling options are mutually exclusive.
If you choose one, you do not need to do the others.
FOR a DETAILED chart comparing these different legal options, CLICK HERE.

Removing a Child From Public School Enrollment
Notify your school district when removing your child from enrollment

If you are removing your child from enrollment in a public school, we advise you to notify your school district office in writing when you begin home instruction.

(1) If you use a homeschooling option that requires the filing of the CPI form, that filing will serve this purpose.

(2) If you choose one of the homeschooling options that does not require filings with your school district, simply send a brief written notice:

  • identifying the child;
  • stating that you are removing the child from public school enrollment to begin private instruction; and
  • providing your name, contact information, and signature.

This step is not required by law, but it does remove any appearance of truancy.

All content on this Iowa Homeschooling Laws & Rules page:
© Homeschool Iowa & Julie Naberhaus adapted from "The ABC's of Homeschooling in Iowa" by Julie Naberhaus

Continue to the next step in Getting Started Homeschooling: