Know the Law & Rules

Iowa's homeschool laws and rules
can appear complicated,
but Homeschool Iowa
helps you find your way
through the maze of regulations.


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 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 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 law.

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 textbooks, 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.

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.


Private Instruction Options
Available Under Iowa Law

Independent Private Instruction (IPI)

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. If school officials do request information, the request must be sent in written form.

If a written request from their school district for information about their IPI program is received, 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 (CPI)
with Opt-Out Reporting

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

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:

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.

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

Removing a Child From Public School Enrollment

If your child is currently enrolled in a public school, 
we advise you to notify your school district office in writing when you remove the child to begin home instruction.

If you use one of the homeschooling options that requires the filing of the CPI form, that filing will serve this purpose.

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 page:
© 2020 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: