Home Schooling in Iowa [updated]

Mike Wiser has a three-part series on home schooling and home schooling law changes starting today (I’ll update on Monday and Tuesday):

New laws relax oversight of home-schoolers: new rules get mixed reaction from advocates, critics

The Quad-City Times version includes a pdf of Certified Enrollment showing the number of CPI applications compared to the number of students enrolled in each district in Iowa.

Technically, home schooling in Iowa has been known as Competent Private Instruction (CPI) and is now known as Private Instruction, which includes Competent Private Instruction and Independent Private Instruction options governed largely by Iowa Code Chapter 299A (which, incidentally, has not yet been updated on the Iowa Legislature website, so you’ll want to check the HF 215 Conference Committee Report for the new language).

The Department of Education has issued a chart comparing the different private instruction options.

The enrollment numbers are interesting, with the statewide total of 10,732 home-school students coming up short of the official estimate of 30,000 home-school students.  It is hard to know how accurate the numbers are, however, with Marion Independent School District reported by the DE at 11 while The Gazette reported 860 enrolled in the Marion Home School Assistance Program earlier this year.

With that in mind, here are some reported numbers from local districts:

  • Cedar Rapids:           149  (0.8% of enrollment)
  • Clear Creek Amana:   24  (1.4% of enrollment)
  • Iowa City:                  340  (2.6% of enrollment)
  • Mid-Prairie:               348 (27.6% of enrollment)
  • Solon:                          24  (1.9% of enrollment)

Monday Update:

Quarter of Mid-Prairie district’s students are home schooled (Quad-City Times) and Home-school outliers (The Gazette)

Mike Wiser reports today that 27.6% of Mid-Prairie district’s students are home-schooled based on the DE calculations.  As discussed yesterday in the comments, I don’t think those percentages are properly calculated.  Any student not enrolled in either the HSAP or dual enrolled will not be counted in the certified enrollment at all, all other homeschool students will be counted only as a fraction of a student in the certified enrollment.  Which means that the 280 students in the HSAP were possibly counted as only 84 students in the certified enrollment and 58 of the students weren’t counted at all.  Making adjustments to count them as full students in the certified enrollment, we get something closer to 23% (which is still in the ballpark).

However, we also learn from the article that nearly half of the HSAP students are open enrolled in from other districts.  So, while Mid-Prairie resident parents homeschool at a higher rate than the state average, if we adjust our calculations to exclude open enrolled students, it seems that they homeschool at a rate closer to 15% and it is likely that homeschool rates for the sending districts are lower than they might otherwise be.

What’s the point?  That it is useless to make data-driven decisions in education if we aren’t going to be careful about data collection and analysis so that we are comparing apples to apples.

If we are going to measure homeschooling rates by district (rather than determine which districts may just have better HSAP programs than others), we probably need to look at homeschool numbers by sending districts rather than receiving districts and compare the homeschool numbers to actual district enrollment rather than weighted enrollment numbers.

A second point I’d like to make is this, while nine million dollars sounds like a lot to spend on home-schooled students, any student who is enrolled in an HSAP program and/or dual enrolled is a public school student.

Monday Update 2:

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier published the article (under the headline Rural district a hotbed for homeschooling) along with a chart showing the number of HSAP students and amount of funding for HSAP programs per district.  There seem to be discrepancies in the numbers (possibly HSAP students are counted in their resident districts even if open enrolled into another district’s HSAP?), but here are the totals:

  • 1,472.4 weighted enrollment in HSAPs
  • 4,908 actual HSAP students (which represents slightly less than 46% of Iowa homeschool students reported in Sunday’s article)
  • $9,012,560 funding for HSAP programs
  • $1,836 per HSAP enrolled student

Tuesday Update:

Homeschool advocates score major victory in Iowa (at the Quad-City Times)

Today’s article is full of unsurprising news, namely that people who are persistent sometimes score legislative victories (aka squeaky wheels get the grease) and that the DE was not supportive of homeschool law changes.

I think this Tweet could be rewritten “Despite skepticism, accountability advocates score major victory in Iowa.”  After all, HF 215 leaves open the door for tying teacher evaluations to student test scores.

Perhaps “despite lack of interest” might be better wording.  How little interest?  A quote from Jason Glass gives us a hint:

“We underestimated how much Speaker Paulsen and the House Republicans, their interest in the homeschool components versus the accountability components,” Glass said during an interview before he left for his new job in Colorado. “Turns out they were really interested in moving those homeschool elements; they were not as interested in moving those accountability elements.”

That’s the part of the story that I find most interesting, that there was little interest in the  accountability components but they were passed anyway.  And the most important, because the accountability components will affect far more teachers and students in this state than the homeschool law changes will.


4 thoughts on “Home Schooling in Iowa [updated]

  1. mandy

    Do you have any idea how these numbers account for kids that are homeschooled for some subjects but are using the public school for some subjects? I know it’s common to take music classes through the public shool but I have know people who have language arts or math instruction at home and the rest at the public school.

    1. Karen W Post author

      The kids who are home schooled plus dual enrolled for one or more subjects should be included in these numbers as home-schoolers, as they would also be required to file the Form A–which I think is the form they are referring to as the CPI application.

      And I think they are counting each student as one whole person and are not counting by the weighted numbers local districts sometimes use (0.1 for dual enrollment only, 0.3 for HSAP, and 0.4 for HSAP plus dual-enrollment) which I think can be confusing–but I’m pretty sure we don’t have to sort that out here.

      1. Karen W Post author

        Actually, now that I’ve looked again I think they are counted at their weighted value in the certified enrollment count but not in home-school number column. I wonder if the percent of enrollment doesn’t work quite right because they are counted as one in one column and as 0 or 0.1 or 0.3 or 0.4 in the certified enrollment column–and of course other students may have additional supplementary weighting too. I think comparing numbers of actual home-schoolers and actual enrolled students (rather than weighted numbers) would make more sense as an apples-to-apples comparison.

  2. Pingback: Homeschool Win in Iowa's Education Reform | News & Commentary

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