The information provided on this website is intended to assist you in legally homeschooling your children using unschooling methods. The site owner is not an attorney and nothing on this site should be considered legal advice. Please contact an attorney if you are in need of legal advice.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Basics

Here is a brief explanation of the basic information with which first-time homeschoolers in Iowa should familiarize themselves. In the near future I hope to post more detailed explanations of completing the CPI Form A and the choices Iowa homeschoolers have in choosing a method of assessment.

It is important for homeschoolers in Iowa to always try to get their information from as close to the original source as possible. With that in mind, here is the Iowa Department of Education's website where they post the "Competent Private Instruction Handbook" which contains the CPI Form A (on page 13 of the .pdf file) that all homeschoolers must file. http://www.iowa.gov/educate/content/view/301/504/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=301&Itemid=1335 It is in .pdf format and can be viewed using Adobe's free Acrobat Reader software that you can download here. This document is updated each year so you should re-read it before the beginning of each academic year, prior to completing your CPI Form A.

The handbook is a lengthy document with clear, plain-language explanations of the laws applicable to, as well as the rights, roles and responsibilities of homeschoolers, supervising teachers, school districts and the Iowa Department of Education, regarding homeschooling in Iowa. It really is a must read for all Iowa homeschoolers to understand clearly and first-hand their legal rights and responsibilities. Be empowered! Please do not take others', individuals or organizations', interpretations at face value without checking it out for yourself first.

Your CPI Form A is due, in duplicate (so they can send a copy to the Iowa Dept.
of Education) to your school district by 14 days after the first day of school in your district or after withdrawing your child from school.

Choosing Your Method of Assessment
Of the three options for meeting annual assessment requirements (Annual Standardized Testing, Annual Portfolio Evaluation by a licensed teacher, ongoing assessment by a Supervising Teacher,) testing may seem to many like the least intrusive option. However, if you look at your options closely it really boils down to who you want getting up into your privacy.

Portfolio Evaluations and Standardized Test results, while most often being administered by a licensed teacher must also be reported to the local school district as well as the Iowa Department of Education each spring. On the other hand, a supervising teacher (not of the Home School Assistance Program type) with whom you must have at least eight contacts over an academic year (four face-to-face and four "other") works privately with you and reports to nobody else (unless they determine that adequate progress is not made.) When utilizing a private supervising teacher, once you turn in your CPI Form A at the beginning of the academic year or upon withdrawing your child from school, you have no further contact with the "authorities" until it's time to file the next year's CPI Form.

Standardized Testing
If you choose the supervising teacher method you can still have your child tested for your own purposes if you like but you are not required to do so. And, if you dual-enroll for testing purposes, even though you have your own supervising teacher, you are also entitled to have your child tested at the expense of the school district either by sending your child to the school when they are testing the other children or by having the Area Education Agency (AEA) for your district administer the tests. If the test publisher allows*, you can even have the district give you the testing material and administer the tests yourself at home, turn the answer sheets back into the district for scoring and then receive the scoring back from them. This last option only works if you are NOT using the testing for your official method of annual assessment. You should contact your school district's homeschool liaison to determine which method works best for your needs.

All homeschoolers are required to comply with the same immunization laws as everyone else. Here you can download your Immunization Certificate to be completed and signed by your health-care professional: http://www.idph.state.ia.us/adper/immunization_products.asp

If your child needs an exemption to immunizations (medical and religious reasons only) you can download a "Certificate of Immunization Exemption" here: http://www.idph.state.ia.us/adper/immunization_products.asp

*The ITBS publishers have very specific requirements for who is allowed access to their testing materials. You can read about them here: http://www.education.uiowa.edu/itp/itbs/itbs_materials.htm
Some homeschool families test via BJU Press' services: http://www.bjupress.com/services/testing/

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