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iowa homeschool laws, Iowa
iowa homeschool laws, Iowa

Iowa Homeschool Laws

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Homeschooling in Iowa

If you’re living in Iowa and are looking into homeschooling, you’re in the right place! This page provides the resources and information you need to determine whether homeschooling in the Hawkeye State is right for you.

Homeschooling Laws in Iowa

Knowing the requirements for homeschooling in Iowa is one key to successful homeschooling. Below is a summary of the homeschool laws in the state of Iowa. You can find additional information on Home School Legal Defense Association’s (HSLDA) website as well: Iowa HSLDA Reference

Homeschooling Options in Iowa

  1. Homeschooling by Independent Private Instruction (IPI).
  2. Homeschooling by opt-out.
  3. Homeschooling with an annual assessment.
  4. Homeschooling with a supervising teacher.
  5. Homeschooling with a Home School Assistance Program (HSAP).

Iowa State Homeschool Law Summary

Homeschooling by Independent Private Instruction (IPI). If you choose this option, you will need to follow these guidelines:

  1. Teach the required subjects using a course of study: these include math, reading, language arts, science, and social studies.
  2. School officials can request certain information though you don’t need to proactively file any forms with your local school district. If, however, your school district superintendent or the head of the Iowa Department of Education sends you a written request, you will have to send him or her a letter indicating:
    • The primary instructor of your IPI program (usually the parent)z
    • The name and location of the authority responsible for the independent private instruction (in the case of homeschooling, this would generally be the parent’s name and home address)
    • The names of the students enrolled
  3. You legally have access to some public school programs, such as parent-taught driver education, your local school’s driver education program, free testing, and community college classes via the concurrent enrollment program if the school has contractually arranged to provide those classes to its own students.

Note: IPI homeschoolers do not have access to several programs that are available to some other homeschoolers, including dual enrollment in the public school (for classes or extracurricular activities), open enrollment to other public school districts, and post-secondary enrollment college classes.

Homeschooling by opt-out. If you homeschool your child under this choice, you will need to follow these guidelines:

  1. Provide education in a nonpublic school setting using a plan and course of study in a setting other than a public or organized accredited nonpublic school.
  2. You have access to similar programs mentioned in the IPI option, including  parent-taught driver education, your local school’s driver education program, free testing, post-secondary enrollment option low-cost college classes, and community college classes via the concurrent enrollment program if the school has contractually arranged to provide those classes to its own students.

Note: Under this option, homeschoolers do not have access to several programs that are available to some other homeschoolers, including dual enrollment in the public school (for classes or extracurricular activities) and open enrollment to other public school districts, and post-secondary enrollment college classes.

To access these programs, a homeschooler who operates under this option must file a Form A, dual enroll by the deadline, and either satisfy the requirements for homeschooling with an annual assessment, fulfill the requirements for homeschooling with a supervising teacher, or participate in a Home School Assistance Program. These actions effectively change, or convert, the option under which your student is considered homeschooled.

Homeschooling with an annual assessment. With this option, you must:

  1. File a Form A by September 1 of each year. If you are moving into the state or starting homeschooling after the school year has begun, you need to submit a form that is at least partially completed within 14 calendar days of starting homeschooling and a fully completed form within 30 days of starting homeschooling.

You will need to provide the following information:

  • Name and age of the child
  • Number of days of instruction that will be provided (must be at least 148)
  • Textbooks used
  • An “outline of course of study” (subjects covered, lesson plans, and time spent on the areas of study—there is no mandated minimum)

The form will also ask you to provide the child’s birth date, which you are not required by law to do. You must also provide evidence of vaccinations (or medical or religious exemption) for children who are being homeschooled for the first time. Unless you give clear written instructions to your school district to keep your Form A information private, the school may make it public.

  1. Have a course of study and use a plan.
  2. Submit annual assessments to your school district beginning the year the child is 7 by September 15 (or his or her first year of homeschooling, if older). For grades 5 and below, you must assess reading, language arts, and math. For grades 6 and above, you must assess reading, language arts, math, social studies, and science. Each year’s assessment must be conducted by May 31 and submitted to the school system by August 1. Each assessment after the initial assessment needs to show adequate progress.

You can use one of the following types of assessments:

  • Report card from a school or correspondence school accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. “Adequate progress” is reflected by a passing grade.
  • You can choose a teacher to write an evaluation of your student’s progress based on a review of a portfolio of your student’s work. The evaluation must be submitted to the school system and indicate that your child made adequate progress. A teacher with an elementary classroom license can evaluate children in grades 1 to 6, a teacher with an elementary content license can evaluate grades 1 to 8. With a secondary content license, a teacher can evaluate grades 5 to 12. A teacher who no longer has a current classroom or content license, but who has a current substitute license, can evaluate students of the same grade levels as if his or her classroom or content license were in force.
  • You can pick a standardized test from the list approved by the Iowa Department of Education. You must choose the testing grade level that best fits your child’s age, and you must follow the test publisher’s instructions. To show adequate progress, your child needs to have a score above the 30th percentile in each required test subject area plus either (a) show an overall score at grade level or (b) show six months’ progress from the previously submitted test.

If the assessment does not show adequate progress, you may submit another assessment before the next school year begins. If adequate progress is still not shown, you will have to enroll your child in school unless the Iowa Department of Education approves a remediation program.

  1. You legally have access to some public school programs without dual enrolling, such as parent-taught driver education, your local school’s driver education program, free testing, and community college classes via the concurrent enrollment program if the school has contractually arranged to provide those classes to its own students.

Students homeschooling under this option have access to dual enrollment in their local public school. If they submit their request for dual enrollment by the September 15 deadline, they have access to public school classes, extracurricular activities, and post-secondary enrollment option low-cost college classes.

Homeschooling with a supervising teacher. Below are the steps required for this option:

  1. File a Form A by September 1 of each year. If you are moving into the state or starting homeschooling after the school year has begun, you need to submit a form that is at least partially completed within 14 calendar days of starting homeschooling and a fully completed form within 30 days of starting homeschooling.

You will need to provide the following information:

  • Name and age of the child
  • Number of days of instruction that will be provided (must be at least 148)
  • Textbooks used
  • An “outline of course of study” (subjects covered, lesson plans, and time spent on the areas of study—there is no mandated minimum)

The form will also ask you to provide the child’s birth date, which you are not required by law to do. You must also provide evidence of vaccinations (or medical or religious exemption) for children who are being homeschooled for the first time. Unless you give clear written instructions to your school district to keep your Form A information private, the school may make it public.

  1. Have a course of study and use a plan to teach for the required number of days (148 per year/37 per school quarter).
  2. Hire a qualified teacher to supervise. The supervising teacher must contact your student twice each 45 days of instruction. One of those two contacts must be face-to-face. The supervising teacher is required to assess your child and keep a record of his or her contacts with and assistance provided to your child. A supervising teacher must have the following qualifications based on your student’s grade:
  • Elementary classroom license: may supervise for students in grades K–6.
  • Middle school license: may supervise for students in grades 5–8.
  • Secondary license: may supervise for students in grades 5–8.
  • Secondary classroom license: may supervise for students in grades 7–12.
  • Substitute license: may supervise for students in any grade.
  • Substitute authorization: may supervise for students in grades K–12.

Note: A parent with an appropriate license can be his or her own supervising teacher.

  1. You legally have access to some public school programs without dual enrolling, such as parent-taught driver education, your local school’s driver education program, free testing, and community college classes via the concurrent enrollment program if the school has contractually arranged to provide those classes to its own students. If students submit their request for dual enrollment by the September 15 deadline, they have also have access to public school classes, extracurricular activities, and post-secondary enrollment option low-cost college classes.

Homeschooling with a Home School Assistance Program (HSAP). This option is actually a public school program, and each district has the option of offering an HSAP to families. Though it is a public school program, students in an HSAP are not considered public school students. Here are the steps you need to take for an HSAP program:

  1. File a Form A by September 1 of each year. If you are moving into the state or starting homeschooling after the school year has begun, you need to submit a form that is at least partially completed within 14 calendar days of starting homeschooling and a fully completed form within 30 days of starting homeschooling. You only need to fill in items 1, 3, and 5 on Form A.

The form will ask you to provide the child’s birth date, which you are not required by law to do. You must also provide evidence of vaccinations (or medical or religious exemption) for children who are being homeschooled for the first time. Unless you give clear written instructions to your school district to keep your Form A information private, the school may make it public.

  1. Have a course of study and use a plan to teach for the required number of days (148 per year/37 per school quarter).
  2. Comply with any additional HSAP requirements that public schools provide (annual testing, for example). HSAP programs generally offer families free secular schoolbooks and access to a teacher of the school’s choice.
  3. You legally have access to some public school programs without dual enrolling, such as parent-taught driver education, your local school’s driver education program, free testing, and community college classes via the concurrent enrollment program if the school has contractually arranged to provide those classes to its own students. If students submit their request for dual enrollment by the September 15 deadline, they have also have access to public school classes, extracurricular activities, and post-secondary enrollment option low-cost college classes.

Iowa State Education Resources

Here you’ll find websites for any questions you may have about education in the state of Iowa.

Iowa Homeschooling Support Groups

Whether you already homeschool in Iowa or are looking to do so, these resources are quite useful if you’re searching for support, co-ops, or answers to questions about homeschooling in your state.

Top Iowa Homeschooling Field Trip Ideas

One of the many benefits of homeschooling is the flexibility to explore! Here are some ideas for amazing–and educational–field trips around the great state of Iowa!

  • Blank Park Zoo: Des Moines, IA
  • The Bridges of Madison County: Winterset, IA
  • Buffalo Bill Museum: Le Claire, IA
  • Children’s Discovery Center: Clinton, IA
  • Family Museum: Bettendorf, IA
  • Fossil and Prairie Center: Rockford, IA
  • Herbert Hoover National Historic Site: West Branch, IA
  • Iowa Children’s Museum: Coralville, IA
  • Iowa State University Museums: Ames, IA
  • National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium: Dubuque, IA
  • Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge and Prairie Learning Center: Prairie City, IA
  • Putnam Museum and IMAX Theater: Davenport, IA
  • Science Center of Iowa & Blank IMAX Dome Theater: Des Moines, IA
  • Science Station/McLeod-Busse IMAX Dome Theater: Cedar Rapids, IA
  • The State Historical Museum: Des Moines, IA

 

Virtual Open House! Join us on Thursday, Sept. 3 at 2pm ET to learn the benefits of working with a homeschool academy.