Homeschooling FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions About Private Instruction

The following FAQs are from the Iowa Department of Education website.

What is private instruction?
Private instruction means instruction using a plan and a course of study in a setting other than a public or organized accredited nonpublic school. Iowa Code section 299A.1 (2) (c). It includes competent private instruction (by a licensed practitioner or a non-licensed person), independent private instruction, home school assistance programs, and non-accredited nonpublic schools. 

Competent Private Instruction (CPI)

What is competent private instruction?
“Competent private instruction” means private instruction provided on a daily basis for at least one hundred forty-eight days during a school year, to be met by attendance for at least thirty-seven days each school quarter, by or under the supervision of a licensed practitioner in the manner provided under Iowa Code section 299A.2 and this chapter, or other person under Iowa Code section 299A.3 and this chapter, which results in the student making adequate progress. The CPI category includes home schooled children who are not enrolled in independent private instruction and those in non-accredited nonpublic “schools.” 281-IAC chapter 31.

May any child receive CPI?
Generally, yes. There are two options for a parent, guardian, or legal or actual custodian who wants to enroll a child under CPI in Iowa.

  • Option 1 is to enroll the child under private instruction under the supervision of a licensed practitioner in a manner provided under Iowa Code section 299A.2.
  • Option 2 is to enroll the child under private instruction by a non-licensed person as provided under Iowa Code section 299A.3. 

How do I enroll my child in CPI under Option 1?
Private Instruction under the supervision of a licensed practitioner.

Under Option 1, a parent, guardian, or legal or actual custodian simply completes the report of Competent Private Instruction (Form A – available from district of residence) and returns it to the resident district by September 1 or within 14 days of commencing CPI. NOTE: if a child has been identified as requiring special education programs or services, prior written approval must be obtained from the special education director of the Area Education Agency (AEA) in which the child resides before the child may be home schooled or enrolled in a non-accredited nonpublic “school.” This consent is not required if the parent, guardian, legal, or actual custodian does not consent to initial evaluation or to reevaluation of the child for receipt of special education services or programs. Iowa Code sections 299.4, 299A.9; 281-IAC rules 31.5(1) (f), 31.10.

Where can a parent, guardian, or legal or actual custodian, choosing to provide CPI under Option 1, find an Iowa licensed teacher to provide supervision and/or instruction?
The parent, guardian, or legal or actual custodian may start with the local district, which might have a home school assistance program (HSAP) or know of teachers willing to work with CPI students. The parent, guardian, or legal or actual custodian may also contact www.homeschooliowa.org or email referrals@homeschooliowa.org for assistance. 

How do I enroll my child in CPI under Option 2?
Private Instruction by a non-licensed person.

Under Option 2 a parent, guardian, or legal or actual custodian may meet, but is not required to meet, all of the following requirements:

  • Complete the report of Competent Private Instruction (Form A-available from the district of residence) and return it to the resident district by September 1 or within 14 days of commencing CPI. (Iowa Code section 299.4)
  • Ensure that the child under the parent’s, guardian’s, or legal custodian’s instruction is evaluated annually to determine whether the child is making adequate progress, as defined in Iowa Code section 299A.6.
  • Ensure that the results of the child’s annual evaluation are reported to the school district of residence of the child and to the Department of Education by a date not later than June 30 of each year in which the child is under competent private instruction. A parent, guardian, or legal or actual custodian who chooses Option 2 with no reporting is utilizing the “private instruction exemption”, and by doing so relinquishes the ability to dual enroll for academics, extracurricular activities, or special education services. Dual enrollment requires compliance with the reporting requirements of Iowa Code section 299.4 and the assessment requirements of 299A.4. A parent who dual enrolls for academics, athletics, or special education services relinquishes the option to utilize the private instruction exemption, and must complete Form A. A parent, guardian, or legal or actual custodian who chooses Option 2 and chooses not to report to the district (i.e., uses the private instruction exemption) may wish to provide the district notice of the decision to use the private instruction exemption. Doing so will create a presumption that a child of compulsory attendance age is in compliance with the compulsory attendance requirements of Iowa Code chapter 299.NOTE: if a child has been identified as requiring special education programs or services, prior written approval must be obtained from the special education director of the Area Education Agency (AEA) in which the child resides before the child may be home schooled or enrolled in a non-accredited nonpublic “school.” This consent is not required if the parent, guardian, legal, or actual custodian does not consent to initial evaluation or to reevaluation of the child for receipt of special education services or programs. Iowa Code sections 299.4, 299A.9; 281-IAC rules 31.5(f), 31.10.

Does Form A have to be filed for a child who attends a non-accredited “school”?
Yes. Form A must be filed for each child of compulsory attendance age who is enrolled in a non-accredited nonpublic “school.” Iowa Code section 299.4. 

Does Form A have to be filed for a child who is younger or older than compulsory attendance age?
No. However, the fact that Form A does not have to be filed for a child younger or older than compulsory attendance age does not mean that the child cannot receive CPI. Any child who is 5 years of age by September 15 and under 21 years of age who has not completed the equivalency of graduation requirements may receive CPI. Iowa Code section 299.4; 281-IAC 31.2. The parent, guardian, or legal or actual custodian may apply for dual enrollment for a child who is not of compulsory attendance age by filing Form A with only Items #1, #2, and #9 completed. (No teacher supervision or annual assessment reporting is required for the student who is not of compulsory attendance age.)

Is Form A (the Report of CPI) a public document?
Yes. It is a document the school district and appropriate AEA are required to maintain; therefore, it is a public document. That does not mean that all of the information on the form is public information. A district may not release information to unauthorized persons about the child’s immunization records, special education status, curriculum, or assessment/portfolio information without parental consent or statutory authorization. Also, a parent, guardian, or legal or actual custodian has the right to instruct the district not to release to unauthorized persons any information that is usually regarded as public information, including the child’s name. Iowa Code section 22.7(1); 20 U.S.C. section 1232g (FERPA – Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act). Iowa Department of Education guidance should be viewed as advisory unless it is specifically authorized by state statute, according to Iowa Code section 256.9A as enacted by Senate File 475. This does not apply to administrative rules, declaratory orders, or materials required by federal law or courts. 

What is compulsory attendance age?
For children who receive CPI or Independent Private Instruction (See #17 below), compulsory attendance age includes children who are 6 years old by September 15 and younger than 16. For those students receiving CPI using a licensed practitioner (i.e., supervising teacher) and for those receiving CPI by a non-licensed person, who dual enroll in a school district, Form A (the Report of CPI) must be filed for a child of compulsory attendance age. Form A may also be filed (but is not required) for a child who is 5 years old by September 15, as well as for a child who is 16 years of age or older. Iowa Code sections 299.1A, 299.4.

Is there a particular curriculum that must be used to provide CPI?
No, the State of Iowa does not have a mandated curriculum for students who receive CPI. The type of curriculum and instructional materials is the decision of the parent, guardian, or legal or actual custodian.

Are diplomas available for children who are home schooled? 
The Iowa Department of Education cannot issue diplomas, and the district of residence may not be compelled to issue a diploma. There are certain state-mandated graduation requirements that must be met before a school district may issue a diploma. Physical education, U.S. history and U.S. government are current requirements, and as of the 2010-2011 school year, anyone receiving a diploma must have four credits in English/language arts, and three credits each in science, mathematics, and social studies. Families desiring a district diploma for their children are urged to contact their resident high school administrators during their child’s 8th grade year to coordinate these credits. 

May a parent, guardian, or legal or actual custodian provide CPI via a correspondence school?
Yes. The curriculum can come from any source, including a correspondence school. The students whose curriculum is provided by a correspondence school must be still annually assessed unless the school is accredited or the teacher providing instruction or supervision is an Iowa licensed teacher. 31.8(4), 31.9(4). 

Are children who receive CPI exempt from the immunization requirements?
Only to the same extent that a regularly enrolled child is exempt, by filing a medical or religious exemption. To obtain the exemption form, see the Iowa Department of Public Health website at https://idph.iowa.gov/immtb/immunization/laws or call 1(800-831-6293 ext 1). 641-IAC 7.3. Option 1 children and Option 2 children receiving dual enrollment must provide evidence of immunization or exemption.

Are children who receive CPI exempt from health screening requirements?
Legislation enacted by the 2007 Iowa General Assembly requires all children under the age of 6 to have a blood lead test. Compliance with this requirement will be verified for children enrolling in kindergarten and children under the age of 6 for whom a Competent Private Instruction under Option 1, or Option 2 where the child is dually enrolled. This will be done by matching the names of these children with the Iowa Department of Health’s blood lead database. The dental screening, vision examinations, and blood lead test reporting do not apply to children who receive CPI. 

May a child who has been identified as requiring special education programs or services receive CPI?
Yes, if the special education director of the AEA in which the child resides gives prior written approval to the parent, guardian, or legal or actual custodian. Iowa Code section 299A.9; 281-IAC 31.10.