In Iowa, there are five choices under which you can legally homeschool. You are free to choose the choice that best meets your family’s needs.

Here are the choices:

Choice 1: Homeschooling by Independent Private Instruction (IPI)

If you opt to provide your child with Independent Private Instruction, you will need to follow these guidelines:

1. Teach the required subjects.

You must have a course of study and use a plan to provide your child with instruction in the following subjects:

  • math,
  • reading and language arts,
  • science, and
  • social studies.

The law does not specify how much time to spend instructing your child or teaching any single subject, but you should include some instruction in each required subject every school year.

2. School officials can request certain information.

You do not need to proactively file any forms with your school district to let them know you are providing IPI. However, if 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 (probably you, the parent),
  • 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), and
  • the names of the students enrolled.

If you are an HSLDA member and receive such a request, don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions. As a member homeschooling your student under Choice 1: IPI, you may use the corresponding version of HSLDA’s privacy form, available below, to notify the district that you wish your student’s information to be kept private.

3. You have access to some public school programs.

IPI homeschoolers are legally allowed to:

  • participate in parent-taught driver education,
  • participate in the driver education program of the local school,
  • take free testing, and
  • take community college classes via the concurrent enrollment program if the school has contractually arranged to provide those classes to its own students.

However, IPI homeschoolers do not have access to several programs that are available to some other homeschoolers. These programs are:

  • dual enrollment in the public school (for classes or extracurricular activities),
  • open enrollment to other public school districts, and
  • post-secondary enrollment college classes.

Choice 2: Homeschooling by Opt-Out

If you opt to homeschool your child under this choice, you will need to follow these guidelines:

1. Provide education in a nonpublic school setting.

Under this option, you must provide instruction to your child using a plan and course of study in a setting other than a public or organized accredited nonpublic school.

2. You have access to some public school programs.

Homeschoolers who operate under this option are allowed to participate in the following:

  • parent-taught driver education,
  • driver education programs at the local school,
  • free testing at the public school,
  • 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.

They are not required to dual enroll to obtain access to these programs.

However, homeschoolers who operate under this option do not have access to several programs that are available to some other homeschoolers. These programs are:

  • dual enrollment in the public school (for classes or extracurricular activities), and
  • open enrollment to other public school districts.

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 Choice 3: Homeschooling with an annual assessment, fulfill the requirements for Choice 4: 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.

If you are an HSLDA member filing Form A, you can use one of the privacy forms mentioned under Choice 3, 4, or 5 below to notify the district that you wish your student’s information to be kept private.

Choice 3: Homeschooling with an annual assessment

If you opt to homeschool with an annual assessment, you will need to follow these guidelines:

1. File a Form A.

You must 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, and
  • an “outline of course of study" (meaning 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. If you are an HSLDA member with a student who is not dual-enrolled, you can use the corresponding version of our privacy form below to notify the district that you wish your student’s information to be kept private.

2. Have a course of study and use a plan.

3. Submit annual assessments.

You must submit 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 31st and submitted to the school system by August 1st. 

The first assessment is considered the “baseline” assessment. It does not need to show adequate progress or a particular level of results. It is simply used as a point from which to measure future progress. Each assessment after that needs to show adequate progress. How this is shown differs depending on the type of assessment you use.

You can use one of the following types of assessments:

  • Report card. You can use a report card from a school or correspondence school accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. If you use this option, “adequate progress” is shown by a passing grade.
  • Review by teacher. 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—not the portfolio—needs to be submitted to the school system, and it needs to indicate that your child made adequate progress. A teacher with an elementary classroom license can evaluate children in grades 1–6. A teacher with an elementary content license can evaluate grades 1–8. With a secondary content license, a teacher can evaluate grades 5–12. 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.
  • Standardized test. You can pick a standardized test from the list approved by the Iowa Department of Education. You have to choose the testing grade level that best fits your child’s age, and you have to 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.

To learn more about these testing and evaluation options, click here.

Here is what to do if the assessment does not show adequate progress:

If your student’s 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. If it looks like you are going to have difficulty showing adequate progress, HSLDA members should not hesitate to contact us immediately.

4. You have access to public school programs.

Students under this option have access to the following without dual enrolling:

  • parent-taught driver education,
  • public school driver education programs,
  • free testing at the public school, and
  • community college concurrent enrollment if the school has contractually arranged to provide those classes to its own students.

Students operating under this option have access to dual enrollment in the public school. If they submit their request for dual enrollment by the September 15 deadline, they have access to the following:

  • public school classes,
  • extracurricular activities, and
  • post-secondary enrollment option low-cost college classes.

If you are an HSLDA member, you can use the corresponding version of our privacy form below to notify the district that you wish for your dual-enrolled student’s information to be kept private.

To open enroll in another public school district for the fall session, you must file your request by the previous March 1. To open enroll for a spring or summer session, you must file your request by March 1 of the previous calendar year. Open enrollment can be denied under certain circumstances.

Choice 4: Homeschooling with a supervising teacher

If you opt to homeschool your child with a supervising teacher, you will need to follow these guidelines:

1. File a Form A.

You must 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, and
  • an “outline of course of study" (meaning subjects covered, lesson plans, and time spent on the areas of study—there is no mandated minimum).

The form will also ask for the child’s birth date, which you are not required by law to provide.

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. If you are an HSLDA member with a student who is not dual-enrolled, you can use the corresponding version of our privacy form below to notify the district that you wish your student’s information to be kept private.

2. Teach for the required number of days.

You need to have a course of study and use a plan to teach for 148 days per year and 37 days per school quarter.

3. Hire a qualified teacher to supervise.

You will need to hire a qualified supervising teacher of your choice. 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.

4. You have access to public school programs.

Students under Choice 4 have access to the following without dual enrolling:

  • parent-taught driver education,
  • public school driver education programs,
  • free testing at the public school, and
  • community college concurrent enrollment if the school has contractually arranged to provide those classes to its own students.

If students operating under Choice 4 submit their request for dual enrollment by the September 15 deadline, they have access to the following:

  • public school classes,
  • extracurricular activities, and
  • post-secondary enrollment option low-cost college classes.

    If you are an HSLDA member, you can use the corresponding version of our privacy form below to notify the district that you wish your dual-enrolled student’s information to be kept private.

To open enroll in another public school district for the fall session, you must file your request by the previous March 1. To open enroll for a spring or summer session, your request must be filed by March 1 of the previous calendar year. Open enrollment can be denied under certain circumstances.

Choice 5: Homeschooling with a Home School Assistance Program (HSAP)

An HSAP is a public school program. Individual public school districts have the option of offering HSAPs to families. A student in an HSAP is not a public school student.

1. File a Form A.

You must 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 only need to fill in items 1, 3, and 5 on Form A.

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. If you are an HSLDA member with a student enrolled in a HSAP, you can send in the corresponding privacy form below with Form A to help assure the privacy of your student’s records.

2. Teach for the required number of days

You need to have a course of study and use a plan to teach for 148 days per year and 37 days per school quarter.

3. Comply with any additional HSAP requirements.

Public schools can impose any additional requirements they wish on students as a condition for participating in the HSAP, including annual testing. HSAP programs typically offer families free secular school books and access to a teacher of the school’s choice.

4. You have access to public school programs.

Students under Option 5 have access to the following without dual enrolling:

  • parent-taught driver education,
  • public school driver education programs,
  • free testing at the public school, and
  • community college concurrent enrollment if the school has contractually arranged to provide those classes to its own students.

Being in a HSAP does not automatically dual enroll the student.

If students operating under Option 5 submit their request for dual enrollment by the September 15 deadline, they have access to the following:

  • public school classes,
  • extracurricular activities, and
  • postsecondary enrollment option low-cost college classes.

If you are an HSLDA member, you may use the corresponding version of HSLDA’s privacy form below to notify the district that you wish your dual-enrolled student’s information to be kept private.

To open enroll in another public school district for the fall session, your request must be filed by the previous March 1. To open enroll for a spring or summer session, your request must be filed by March 1 of the previous calendar year. Open enrollment can be denied under certain circumstances.