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“Ed lobbied for the first homeschool law back in 1990. He doesn't beat around the bush with his advice for new homeschoolers.” – Ann Zeise
Real Questions

When is "assessment" not assessment?
College Credit vs. CPI Compliance
Length of School Day Under CPI
Dressmaking as Curriculum
HSAP Student Evaluation
Compliance and Civil Air Patrol
September 15th and "dual enrollment"

Ask Ed Your Own Question

When is "assessment" not assessment?

Q.I have a question. A woman that is homeschooling her child received a letter from the dept of education because her child scored low in one of her subject areas. This was the first year that her child was required to annual assessment and I told her that I thought that the child did not have to get a specific score on her baseline test but that they compared the 1st test with her other annual assessments (when she takes them) to see what progress is being made. However, maybe that's not the case because she was sent a letter giving her two options: to either develop a plan of remedication or to enroll her child in school.

Is that how homeschooling works or is the 1st annual assessment suppose to be a baseline?

A.The regulations are explicit: the baseline test may not be used for purposes of assessment.

If it was indeed the baseline test, then your interpretation is correct.

College Credit vs. CPI Compliance

Q.Ed, I have a question about the assessment requirement for homeschoolers. My [14yo] son is going to be taking 12 credits at the University of Iowa this fall. Can I turn in his transcript and skip the assessment or do I still have to make arrangements for him to take the ITED (or one of the other exams)? I see that if a child is enrolled in a correspondence school accredited by the U.S. Dept. of Education, we can submit the report card as proof of assessment -- does it work the same way if the student is basically a fulltime college student? I refuse to have my son miss a day of college classes just so he can take the ITED. Thanks for any guidance you can provide.

A.This is not a common situation, so I don't know that there's settled policy on the matter.

However, if you do as you described, I don't think you'll have any trouble.

Q.Thanks, Ed. Unfortunately, I happen to live in [City], where the person in charge knows far less about homeschooling laws than I do. If someone was going to "make trouble" for me over this, she'd be a pretty likely candidate. Maybe I should check with the Department of Education to be sure. Thanks again.

A.Well, that's really my point. The [City School District] person has almost no say-so in this, since it's a state matter. Bottom line, she'd have to consult with the DoE, and they always recognize "good faith."

Having a letter ahead of time simply shifts when and where the consultation takes place.

All the [City School District] person can do is write letters and make phone calls.

Q.So...I could just go ahead and turn in the CPI form, not test, and then at the end of the year send in my son's transcript rather than test results. It could be I'll never hear from the state. But if I do, then I could just explain that I didn't want my son to miss college classes to take the test, and that if a report card with passing grades from an accredited correspondence school counts as "evidence of success" according to Annual Assessment Flowchart 281-IAC31.7, then surely a transcript from the U of I would count as evidence of success as well. That's good faith, right? What's the worst they could do? Make him test this summer? I could live with that. As long as they can't say we can't homeschool next year.

A.Actually, the worst they can ever do after one year of failure to make adequate progress is to require a remediation program to be put in place. The Iowa DoE is never going to require remediation for anyone who successfully completes a year of instruction at one of the state's Regents Institutions [U. of Iowa, Iowa State U., Northern Iowa U. and all the state Community Colleeges]. Think of the headlines for that one!

State Requires Remediation for 15yo sophomore Uof I Student

Naw. I don't think so.

Length of School Day Under CPI

Q.Does the law stipulate how long a child is to receive instruction each school day? I have heard 2 and a half hours thrown around but do not know what the law says.

A.The law does not specify what a day is for "competent private instruction." Therefore, it is left to the parent to define.

Dressmaking as Curriculum

I have some questions about unschooling. First, my daughter made matching dresses for herself and her two sisters. How do we take a project like that and break it out into areas that are going to meet state requirements? Or do state requirements matter?

A.Well, [Parent's Name], the answers are: 1)State requirements are only about contacts with teachers (in your case); 2) Break down the overall task into smaller tasks. That will show how limited textbook exercises are by comparison, and give everyone in your family newfound understanding of learning.

Here are some suggested categories:

Planning the project
Researching--finding patterns, etc.
Estimating/Calculating fabric, thread, facings, etc.
Assembling and fitting

Using the cognitive pyramid, note how far up the task goes


The task starts at application, subsuming both comprehension and knowledge. She had to analyze how and where to place the pattern parts to conserve fabric while pattern matching. She then had to actually synthesize them, putting them together. No doubt she has evaluated whether she likes them; she may see areas where she could improve her skills, or may see where she would make changes-- not only evaluating, but beginning the process of analysis and synthesis for the next time.

Q. Doesn't the law require high school students to take certain courses in order to graduate? If so, that is what I am thinking about in terms of state requirements. This would most likely fit into some sort of home economics if that were the case. How then would we appropriate her time since she did it all on her own? She just got a hair to do it and did it. No help, no pattern, just wanted to do it, and did it. The only "help" she had was one sibling was the model for another one. She did them and it was a surprise to each sibling. So anyway, how do we correctly give her credit for the project in a scenario where she would need to track her time and how or what subject she spent it on? Make sense?

A.Sounds marvelous! I'd be amazed but the amazing is commonplace when you unschool. Without patterns, she had to make her own, and the fabric calculation becomes much more difficult.

High school diplomas are awarded solely by school districts, not the state. For the few districts that cooperate, you have to pitch your projects in terms that match their requirements.

What you describe is a reasonable way to give credit. But I favor outlining the cognitive skills, so that the evaluator gets the full value of what happened

Compliance and Civil Air Patrol

Q. I know a family who would like to enroll their child into Civil Air Patrol. The child is interested in flying but does not feel he is up to the rigors of college at this point. They feel that Civil Air Patrol is a reasonable alternative at this point. The question they are asking us is how to document this unconventional approach on the CPI form where it asks for curriculum. Being unsure, I thought I would check with you. I assume their are texts or manuals involved? Meetings?

A.It should be easy to convert the manuals into textbooks for CPI

Meetings and learning sessions will be about aerodynamics, aircraft maintenance, etc.

Since the school district doesn't approve the curriculum, it doesn't really matter what the subjects are.

Q.Really? Are there no district or state requirements as to what to teach? If not, a person could use anything to put on the CPI, couldn't they?

You are correct. The meetings could count for class and the manuals for textbooks. The folks we are talking to are very textbook dependent and we are trying to be not so. So do they just translate aerodynamics to science and aircraft maintenance to science, aviation history to history, etc. My first thought is that this would not be the child's full curriculum, but with unschooling, who knows? This child may just take off so to speak, and make it a full time hobby and school work.

A. No, there are no curricular requirements. IF you have assessment, there are assessment areas, but even then you don't have to teach them.

HSAP Student Evaluation

Q. Does the student evalutaion from HSAP program go to the school district or directly to the state ?

A. There is neither procedure nor mandate for HSAP evaluation. That's a local requirement. So the state has no place to put it. I suppose it's possible that they might send it informally, but there's nothing in statute or regs about any such thing.

Q. Also, if a homeschooler's who is in a HSAP is considered a public school student ?

A. For purposes of funding, each HSAP student is counted as 6/10 of a student. Otherwise, I'm not sure what you mean.

Q. And, is a homeschooler in a HSAP under the juristiction of the school district or the HSAP?

A. Again, I don't know what you mean by "jurisdiction." In any case, the HSAP is part of the school district.

Q. I'm in a conversation on the IDEA list and someone is saying that if you're enrolled in a HSAP your child is considered a public school child, no longer a homeschooler. I didn't think this was entirely accurate and was wondering what you knew about this.

A. Considered "by whom?" If you had to fill out a CPI form, and your child is not attending a non-accredited nonpublic school, then the state considers your child to be homeschooled.

I don't know what other people think.

Q. Also someone was saying that the HSAP sends an evaluation to the school district and state. I guess meaning that the school district would have access to your child's files or information. I didn't think that the HSAP had to report to anyone.

A. Aside from rampant paranioa, I can't explain that remark. There are no such requirements for HSAP's, period. There are no requirements for any files. The only thing would be the HSAP enrollment for funding.

Q. Someone also mentioned that students enrolled in a HSAP were under the juristiction/control of the school district. Splitting hairs, but I thougth that wasn't quite right either. The HSAP is separate from the school district. The HSAP may also be in the pocket of the superintendent and therefor HSAP kids could get the same treatement public school kids get, just by nature of their close involvement with the school, but not because the school district has any direct say over the students.

A. I still have no idea what is meant by "jurisdiction." Again, this sounds like [Name of HS organization]-generated paranoia. There is no "control" whatsoever. You can withdraw from the HSAP whenever you choose. You don't have to join in the first place.

If your children choose to be involved in sports, or in band, or whatever, then while they're actually in class, they're treated as regular school children.

Otherwise, it's a phrase which makes no sense to me.

Q. Thanks again Ed !!

You hit the nail right on the head, these are [Name of HS organization]ites. Why they join IDEA I don't understand. [Name of HS organization]has such a big network of support that they don't need IDEA's. Also IDEA conflicts with what [Name of HS organization] has to say about the law and homeschooling in general. The [Name of HS organization]ites involved in IDEA consistently muddy up the water concerning legal issues. The thing that can be most difficult about them is they generally have a grain of truth in what they say about the law, but they've skewed it to a degree that it's no longer entirely correct.

So students enrolled in a HSAP are by the Law still considered homeschoolers, not public school students, right ? What if they've filled out an HSAP form instead of a CPI form ?

A. There is no HSAP form. Any individual HSAP may come up with their own form, but it has no standing so far as the state is concerned. They still, under statute and regs, must fill out a CPI form. It may be that the HSAP transfers the information to another form or something. I can think of several ways they HSAP could play fast and loose with the data to increase their funding, but no way in which they could seriously affect the homeschool families.

O.K. I've addressed this at least twice before.

I know what HSLDA says. While it may be true in some states, where the law is undetermined (like Michigan), it is not true here.

September 15th and "dual enrollment"

The reason you have to be dual enrolled by the 15th of September is simple, and, at least in some degree, a matter of fairness. The school district makes a report on the third Friday of September --the 15th being the earliest possible occurrence-- to the State Department of Education.

Their funding for the following year is based on the numbers in that report. So, if they are to receive the funding for your dual-enrolled student, they have to include it in that report. It's neither more complicated nor more sinister than that.

Obviously, if you move into the district at a date after that, all bets are off. They would have to take your student in for regular enrollment, so the same applies to a homeschooler moving in and applying for dual enrollment. Don't count on the district officials knowing that, however. They may try to brush you off with the September date. Partially this is ignorance, and partially it is laziness.