Know the Law & Rules
Homeschooling laws vary widely from state to state. The Iowa law and rules may seem quite complicated at first, but NICHE has created a number of resources and forms to help home educators find their way through the maze of regulations. Below, you will find a brief overview of the legal requirements and options for homeschooling families in Iowa.
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 to 16. The cut-off date for determining age is September 15 of each year.
If, on September 15, your child is age 6, or is older than 6 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 utilize a legally defined alternative.
Note: Five-year-olds who have been enrolled in a public school are considered to be of compulsory school attendance age under Iowa law.
If you choose private, “non-accredited” education, you'll need to decide whether or not you want any involvement with your resident public school.
Your decision on public school involvement will likely determine which of the private instruction options you will use.
Available for Homeschooled Students
Parents can choose not to enroll their children at any level in the public school.
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 textbooks, classes, extracurricular activities, special education services, post-secondary enrollment options, and other such resources through the public school.
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.
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 law and rules.
Be aware that there is a connection between receiving state-funded resources and the need to submit to government oversight and regulation.
Available Under Iowa Law
Between 1991 (when Iowa law formally recognized homeschooling) and 2013 (when several major changes were made to the law), home educating parents in Iowa were all required to file annual report forms and either receive supervision by an Iowa licensed teacher or submit adequate annual assessment results for their students.
Now, there are several additional homeschooling options in Iowa, several of which no longer require annual reporting and teacher supervision or annual assessment.
Independent Private Instruction 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 officials may request specific details about the IPI program. Any such school request for information must be sent in written form, and parents can use a NICHE-designed IPI Response Form to reply.
IPI does not give access to dual enrollment or HSAP enrollment.
Competent Private Instruction (CPI) with Opt-Out Reporting also came into existence in 2013, through an amendment process separate from that which created IPI.
CPI with Opt-Out Reporting was created with a simple change of the word “shall” to “may” in the old “annual assessment CPI option” (also known as CPI Option 2).
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 Option 2 with Opt-Out Reporting
is defined as instruction that:
• uses a plan and course of study in a setting other than a public or accredited private school.
• is provided on a daily basis for at least 148 days during a school year, to be met by attendance for at least 37 days each school quarter.
CPI with Opt-Out Reporting does not give access to dual enrollment or HSAP enrollment.
Competent Private Instruction (CPI) with Opt-In Reporting includes a requirement for the filing of an annual CPI Report Form and can be provided in one of two ways:
CPI OPTION 1
which is instruction by or under the supervision of a teacher with an Iowa teaching license that is appropriate to the age and grade level of the student.
This supervision can either be done one of two ways:
• independently, by a privately-retained Iowa licensed teacher selected by the parent (or by the parent if he/she has an appropriate Iowa teaching license)
• through enrollment in a Home School Assistance Program (HSAP) by a teacher assigned by the HSAP, and under the rules and requirements of the HSAP.
CPI OPTION 2 with Opt-In Reporting
which is instruction that results in the student demonstrating adequate progress through annual assessment, which could either be:
• 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 does give access to dual enrollment or HSAP enrollment, if desired.
© 2018 Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators & Julie Naberhaus adapted from "The ABC's of Homeschooling in Iowa" by Julie Naberhaus