Iowa collects but does not publicly report homeschool participation information. There are multiple options for homeschooling in the state.


Iowa is in the midwestern United States. Homeschooling was fully legalized in 1991. Parents homeschooled their children before this, but the law required a parent to be licensed. The 1991 policy change removed this restriction. Further, homeschooling is not legal, by name, in Iowa. Instead, this state allows the practice of homeschooling but calls it “private instruction,” defined as “competent private instruction” (CPI) by a parent, guardian, or custodian. There is also “independent private instruction” that appears to be aimed at learning pods of no more than four unrelated individuals, along with several other requirements. Overall, there are multiple, as many as five, options for schooling a student from home in Iowa.


Parents in Iowa can homeschool their students, ages 6 to 16, through several options. They can dually enroll in their local public school in something akin to part-time enrollment. Under this option, the students can access courses, extracurriculars, and special education services. In this case, they must notify the school of their decision using a mandatory form. The second option is to dually enroll using the mandatory form, and participate in annual assessment or evaluation. However, the evaluation is not turned in to anyone. The third option is to homeschool without any dual enrollment. In this case, the family is not required to notify anyone, there is no mandatory form to fill out (although families can choose to fill out the form), and there is no required evaluation.

Parents are asked to provide instruction for at least 148 days a year and 37 days each school quarter. There are no mandated curriculum requirements, but there are subject requirements. Dually enrolled students are eligible to receive instructional materials from the district (with some restrictions). Dually enrolled students, ages 7 and above, must be evaluated annually in at least language, reading, and math (required subjects vary by age). This requirement does not apply to homeschooled (Independent Private Instruction) students. This evaluation includes standardized testing, a portfolio, or a correspondence transcript. Students have limited access to a free test through the public school system, although it is unclear if that is one free test ever or annually. (Links to other laws)

Iowa offers all students in the state broad access to extracurricular and course offerings in the public schools. For example, homeschooled and other nonpublic students can take courses and participate in extracurricular activities like sports and clubs. However, it does not appear that these offerings are publicly funded, which means that families may have to pay for this access, which is a barrier to these educational opportunities. It also appears that enrolling in these activities would require dual enrollment as a homeschooler in public schools, which comes with increased requirements. Similarly, special education services are available to dually enrolled homeschooled students only.

State Data

Iowa does not report homeschool participation. While the lack of official data is problematic when students are clearly required to file attendance, U.S. Census estimates indicate that around 6.6% of Iowa families homeschooled in the spring of 2020 and decreased to 6.0% by the fall of 2020. Iowa is one of the few states where participation decreased slightly during this time. Based on U.S. Census estimates for the 2022 and 2023 school years, an average of 3.2% of K-12 students in Iowa were homeschooling.

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Cross-Sector Comparison

We cannot calculate a cross-sector comparison because we lack information on homeschool participation.

School Choice Context

In addition to homeschooling, there are several school choice options for parents in Iowa. These include enrollment in traditional public, private, magnet, and charter schools. Inter-district choice is also allowed. Iowa has three private school choice options, including a new education savings account. The Education Savings Account (ESA), launched in 2023, will cover all students by 2025.


The Iowa homeschooling laws are complicated and must be difficult for parents to navigate and for officials to enforce. Iowa currently has five different policies for homeschooling. Simplifying the laws, as other states have done, may improve efficiency for families to meet the needs of their students. Further, while Iowa offers broad access to public school offerings, it comes with strings that may be unacceptable to homeschool families. Removing some of these barriers would provide for better access. While there is no information on the number of homeschooled students in Iowa, the state collects information on dually enrolled students and could publicly report this information.