education options

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education options2018-02-24T21:09:38+00:00

In Iowa, you have more options than you may think…

Brick & Mortar Public Schools

Compulsory Attendance

Your child’s age is your first indicator of his or her eligibility for beginning school. Students may start kindergarten if they turn five on or before September 15. A child does not have to enroll in school at age five, but must be enrolled in first grade if he or she is six on or before September 15.

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Required Documentation

Iowa school districts set the requirements for what documentation is required prior to enrolling a student in their district. To get that information, contact the district directly.

Some legal documents are required for Iowa students to attend school:

  • Certified Birth Certificate / proof of identity
  • Official copy of records/transcripts from the previous school the child most recently attended.
  • A shot immunization record (or proof that immunization is not required for the child).
  • Click here to view the immunization requirements.
  • Proof of home address (for example, a rental agreement or tax statement)

School Fees

Paying some fees is a part of public education, though it is primarily a free education. Students are expected to supply their own basic school supplies such as paper, pencils, and notebooks. Each district has a list of approved expenditures for students. Fee waiver forms can be requested from the school if there is a situation that prevents a family from being able to pay for required materials or events.

Some typical items on that list include:

  • Lunch
  • Summer school
  • Student parking passes (high school)
  • Lost textbooks
  • Late or lost library books
  • Field trips
  • Special class-required fees (e.g., science lab fees)

Public Charter Schools

What are Charter Schools?

Charter Schools are tuition-free public schools operated by independent, non-profit governing bodies.

Parents, teachers, and community leaders sign a “charter” or contract with a school district or state agency to create a charter school and give students more educational options than their assigned school. Charter schools have flexibility over classroom hours, curriculum, and employment policies, but are subject to periodic reviews based on student performance. In Iowa, public charter school students are measured against the same academic standards as students in other public schools. Local boards of education monitor the academic and financial performance of charter schools, and, can revoke or refuse to renew a school’s charter.

Iowa Charter Schools

A list of the active charter schools can be found at Iowa Department of Education’s List of Charter Schools

Enrollment

Most charter schools do not have attendance zones. If you are interested in applying for your child, you must apply directly to the school. The application and selection process can be quite complicated. Make sure to contact the school early to determine the correct next steps to applying.

Virtual Public Schools

In Iowa, children attend school online in virtual classrooms with state certified teachers. Some virtual programs are open to in-district students only, while others have enrollment open to students across the state.

Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Phone: (800) 323-4238

Ages: 14+ years of age

Iowa Learning Online

Phone: (515) 725-2075

Grades: 9-12

Iowa Online AP Academy 

Phone: (319) 335-6148

Grades: 9-12

Iowa Virtual Academy

Phone: (855) 652-3931

Grades: K-12

Iowa Connections Acadmey

Phone: (712) 762-3496

Grades: K-12

Private Schools

Private schools charge tuition, and many have a religious mission. Some private schools offer families assistance to make tuition payments. Click below for the complete list of 200 private schools across the state:

private school review

Private School Review – offering free, detailed information on U.S. private schools combined with useful community data (e.g., housing costs) and maps of the surrounding areas.

*Information on non-public school admission requirements should be obtained from the school directly.

Scholarships

 The Iowa School Tuition Organization Tax Credit program is a tax-credit scholarship program and was launched in 2006. It helps Iowa students from low- and lower middle-income households afford the school options that best fit their needs.

Educational Choice Programs

The Iowa Tuition and Textbook Tax Credit program was enacted and launched in 1987, and it allows parents to receive a limited tax credit for their educational expenses.

For more information on policy change or to get involved in the school choice movement in Indiana visit EdChoice.

Private Virtual Schools

George Washington University Online High School is an online college preparatory academy for motivated students who are willing to be challenged to become the best students and persons they can be. Combining award-winning curriculum with small class sizes and intensive college counseling, students receive a flexible, individualized education attuned to their own needs and goals.

International Academy is a K12, Inc accredited, online private school for grades K–12. Students earn a U.S. high school diploma while using award-winning K¹² curriculum

They offer extensive, individualized academic and counseling support keep students on track. The flexibility allows students to explore their passions. Full-time and part-time options are available.

International Connections Academy is a fully-accredited, online, college preparatory private school serving K–12 students worldwide. The program combines a top-rated curriculum with talented teachers, cutting-edge technology, the flexibility to learn at home, and direct family involvement to ensure each student realizes his or her full potential.

The Keystone School offers flexible education programs for high school and middle school students. Whether your student wants to study full-time or just needs individual classes, they offer more than 170 courses from credit recovery to world languages and AP. Students can enroll at any time.

Home Education

Your options

In Iowa, parents have the option to educate their children at home, an option known as homeschooling or home education. Parents in Iowa may choose to homeschool their own children in grades K – 12. There are five options for homeschooling in Iowa: Homeschooling by Independent Private Instruction (IPI), by Private Instruction (PI), with an annual assessment, with a supervising teacher, and with a Home School Assistance Program (HSAP). Information on how to homeschool option is below.

Independent Private Instruction (IPI):

  1. Teach the Required Subjects. You must teach your student math, reading and language arts, science and social studies. The state does not specify a certain length of time courses must be taught.
  2. School officials can request certain information. You do not have to file any paperwork stating you are educating in this program. 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 (a) the primary instructor of your IPI program (probably you, the parent), (b) 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 (c) the names of the students enrolled.
  3. You have access to some public school programs. IPI homeschoolers are legally allowed to participate in free testing through the public school, the driver education program of the local school, and to take community college classes via the concurrent enrollment program.

Private Instruction (PI):

  1. Provide education in a non-public school setting. Under this option, you simply have to provide instruction to your child using a plan or course of study in a setting other than a public or organized accredited nonpublic school.
  2. Teach for the required number of days. You must teach your student for 148 days per year and 37 days per quarter.
  3. You have access to public school programs. PI homeschoolers are legally allowed to participate in free testing through the public school, the driver education program of the local school, and to take community college classes via the concurrent enrollment program.

Annual Assessment:

  1. File a Form A. You must file a Form A by September 1 of each year. You must also provide evidence of vaccinations (or medical or religious exemption) for children who are being homeschooled for the first time.
  2. Submit annual assessments. You must submit assessments to your school district beginning the year the child is 7 by September 15. 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 1 and submitted to the school system by June 30. You may submit a Report Card, Review by teacher or Standardized test scores.
  3. You have access to public school programs. Students operating under this option have access to dual enrollment in the public school. Meaning, they would have access to public school classes, extra curricular activities and post-secondary enrollment option low-cost college classes.

Supervising Teacher

  1. File a Form A. You must file a Form A by September 1 of each year. You must also provide evidence of vaccinations (or medical or religious exemption) for children who are being homeschooled for the first time.
  2. 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 teacher is also required to assess your student. A parent with the appropriate license may educate their child.
  3. You have access to public school programs. Students operating under this option have access to dual enrollment in the public school. Meaning, they would have access to public school classes, extra curricular activities and post-secondary enrollment option low-cost college classes.

Home School Assistance Program (HSAP)

  1. File a Form A. You must file a Form A by September 1 of each year. You must also provide evidence of vaccinations (or medical or religious exemption) for children who are being homeschooled for the first time.
  2. 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.
  3. You have access to public school programs. Students operating under this option have access to dual enrollment in the public school. Meaning, they would have access to public school classes, extra curricular activities and post-secondary enrollment option low-cost college classes.

Using a private tutor:

In order to homeschool with this option you must do the following:
  1. Select a certified tutor with the required qualifications. (Must be a state certified teacher)
  2. Your student must be instructed in the required number of subjects for the required number of days. (140 days; between the hours of 8am-4pm)
  3. The private tutor must comply with reporting and record keeping requirements.
Home School Legal Defense Alliance

visit HSLDA website >

Coalition for Responsible Home Education

visit the coalition’s website >

Support Groups

Iowa has many homeschool associations that offer classes, curriculum, advising, sports, clubs, socials and recreation. Check out your local support groups here.

Dual Enrollment

College Credit

Dual enrollment courses are college credit courses. High school students enroll in college courses and earn postsecondary credit upon successful completion of the course. High school credit can also be awarded based on local school policy. Dual enrollment courses can be taught on the college campus, at the student’s high school, or online. The location of the course does not affect its status as a dual enrollment course. Home school students are also eligible for dual enrollment.

Senior Year Plus (SYP) is an umbrella program created in 2008 that encompasses Concurrent Enrollment, Postsecondary Enrollment Options Program (PSEO), Advanced Placement (AP), Career Academies, Regional Academies, and, most recently, Project Lead the Way. Though many of these programs were available to students in Iowa prior to 2008, the SYP legislation was implemented to provide increased and more equal access to college credit and AP courses. SYP programs offer students an opportunity to enroll in college coursework and, in most cases, receive both high school and college credit simultaneously. Specifically, “Senior Year Plus” includes:

  • A “district-to-community college sharing or concurrent enrollment” program administered by the department permitting eligible students in grades 9-12 to enroll part-time in rigorous academic or technical coursework approved by the board of directors of a school district through a contractual agreement between a community college and the school district, during the regular school year, at or through community colleges
  • Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO),” allowing primarily 11th and 12th graders to take college and university courses which are not comparable to courses offered by the secondary institution or offered through concurrent enrollment at an eligible postsecondary institution as a part-time student
  • Courses offered through career academies for college credit
  • Project Lead the Way

“Senior Year Plus” also includes requirements regarding Advanced Placement classes. Provisions specific to Advanced Placement are not listed in this profile.

Course Fees

The student’s district is typically responsible for the fees.

Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO): A school district must pay a tuition reimbursement amount to a postsecondary institution that has enrolled its resident eligible students. For a student in an open enrollment situation, tuition is paid by the receiving district. The amount of tuition reimbursement for each separate course must equal the lesser of

  • The actual and customary costs of tuition, textbooks, materials, and fees directly related to the course taken by the eligible student
  • $250

An eligible postsecondary institution must make pro rata adjustments to tuition reimbursement amounts based on federal guidelines.

However, if the student fails to complete and receive credit for the course, the student or parent must reimburse the school district for its costs.

Postsecondary institutions may not charge students for textbooks, materials, or fees directly related to the course in which the student is enrolled except that the student may be required to purchase equipment that becomes the property of the student.

For students at the Iowa school for the deaf and the Iowa braille and sight saving school, the state board of regents must pay a tuition reimbursement amount by June 30 of each year.

Concurrent Enrollment: Districts that enter into a concurrent enrollment agreement are responsible for payment to the cooperating community college per the terms stipulated in their agreement. Districts are eligible to receive supplementary weighting for students enrolled in concurrent enrollment courses. As stipulated in statute, students enrolled in a qualifying concurrent enrollment course are assigned an additional weighting of .70 for career and technical courses and .46 for liberal arts and science courses.

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