Updated August 1999

    Compulsory Attendance Ages: Age of 6 by September 15 until age 16. Iowa Code Annotated § 299.1.

    Required Days of Instruction: 148 days (37 days each quarter).

    Required Subjects: None specifically listed by statute.

Home School Statute: Iowa Code Ann. § 299A.1-299A.10

  1. Parents who home school must complete an annual “Competent Private Instruction Report Form.” Two copies of this must be turned in to the local school district by the first day of school in the resident district, or no later than 14 calendar days after removing the child from school. The form asks for the name and age of the child, the number of days to be spent in schooling, an outline of the course of study, texts used, and the name and address of the instructor. The form also requires evidence of vaccinations (which could include a medical or religious exemption) for children being home schooled for the first time.
  2. “Competent private instruction” is defined as instruction by a licensed teacher, instruction under the supervision of a licensed teacher, or instruction which yields measurable satisfactory results. For most parents, this means there are two basic options: either score well on a standardized test in the spring, or home school under the supervision of a teacher.
  3. Families under a licensed teacher do not have to provide any evaluation. They are required to meet with the teacher twice every quarter (one of these meetings may be conducted via telephone). The teacher acts as a consultant to the family, and, unless a child has special needs, is under no obligation to report to school authorities about the home school program.
  4. Families without a licensed teacher must use a standardized test or portfolio review. Each child must score at or above the 30th percentile on each subtest area (reading, math and language arts). Tests may be administered by the school district or by a non-accredited, non-public school. Parents of children enrolled in an accredited correspondence course may provide the annual grade reports sent to the family by the correspondence school.
  5. Families may operate an independent home school program, a dual-enrolled program, or as part of a home school assistance program, or “HSAP” (if their district offers this last option). School districts receive 60% of per-pupil funding for students enrolled in an HSAP, which creates strong financial pressures to get families into such programs.HSLDA will not accept for membership families enrolled in an HSAP. Schools get 10% of per-pupil funding for dual-enrolled students, but must then let such students participate in sports programs, band, etc.
  6. Children diagnosed with special needs must have their programs approved by the special education director of the local AEA.
  7. NOTE: In State v. Trucke, 410 N.W.2d 242 (Iowa 1987), the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that it was a violation of criminal due process to charge a family with truancy when only 30 days had passed in the school year. The Court reasoned that since children had to be schooled 120 days, the Truckes still had 220 days left in the school year (excluding weekends and holidays) to comply with the statute. Since the family was charged prematurely, the conviction was reversed. This “loop hole” has now been closed by law described above.

Teacher Qualifications: None.

Standardized Tests: If the family operates without a licensed teacher, children must either take a standardized test or submit a portfolio for review. The test or portfolio must be completed by May 1 each year, and results must be submitted by June 30th of that year. Unless administered by a non-public, non-accredited school, standardized tests must be administered at the direction of the local school district. This may include testing in the family’s home (at the family’s expense) or at the public school (at the school’s expense). If a family is enrolled in an accredited correspondence course, the annual report of progress sent by the correspondence school may be provided, as long as the report “includes a listing of subjects taken and grades received.”

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Home School Legal Defense Association, P.O. Box 3000 Purcellville, VA 20134
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