Colorado law offers three homeschool options:
- Homeschool statute: Parents must provide annual notice, offer 172 days of instruction in reading, writing, and speaking, mathematics, history, civics, literature, science, and the U.S. Constitution, and have their children assessed at the end of grades 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11 (by testing or portfolio evaluation). The results of these assessments must be reported to the school district, and students who do not make sufficient academic progress may be required to attend school.
- Independent school: Parents may enroll children in “an independent or parochial school which provides a basic academic education” and pursue a course of home-based study. The children must be enrolled for at least 172 days and the independent or parochial school must provide instruction in reading, writing, and speaking, mathematics, history, civics, literature, science, and the U.S. Constitution. There are no state notification, parent qualification, bookkeeping, or assessment requirements.
- Private tutor: Parents who have a teaching certificate may homeschool under the private tutor law. There are no notification, hours of instruction, subject, bookkeeping, or assessment requirements.
(1) Homeschool Statute
A “nonpublic home-based educational program” refers to a “sequential program of instruction for the education of a child which takes place in a home, which is provided by the child’s parent or by an adult relative of the child designated by the parent. See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 22-33-104.5.
|Notification:||Parents must must file a written notification with a school district at least 14 days before beginning to homeschool, and each year following. This notification should include the name, age, place of residence, and number of hours of attendance of each child.|
|Days or hours:||172 days of instruction, averaging four instructional contact hours per day.|
|Subjects:||Communication skills of reading, writing, and speaking, mathematics, history, civics, literature, science, and the U.S. Constitution.|
|Bookkeeping:||Parents must maintain attendance data, test and evaluation results, and immunization records. These records must be produced to the school district should the superintendent have probable cause to believe that the homeschool is out of compliance with the law.|
|Assessment:||Homeschooled students must be either tested or evaluated at the end of grades 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11. If the testing option is chosen, the student must take a national standardized achievement test. If the evaluation option is chosen, the student must be evaluated by a “qualified person . . . selected by the parent.” This includes anyone who has a graduate degree in education or who is a state certified teacher, a teacher in a private school, or a licensed psychologists. The test or evaluation results must be submitted to the school district that received the notification or to a private school. If the results are submitted to a private school, the name of that school must be provided to the school district.|
|Intervention:||Should a student score at or below the thirteenth percentile on a nationally standardized achievement test, or should a student’s evaluation find that the student is not making sufficient academic progress, the school district must require the child to attend a public or private school until the next testing period. However, a student who scores at or below the thirteenth percentile shall first be given the opportunity to be retested.|
(2) Independent School
Parents may enroll their children in “an independent or parochial school which provides a basic academic education” and pursue a course of home-based study. Parents choosing this option are subject to the requirements of the independent or parochial school in which they are enrolled, and children enrolled in this option count as private school students rather than as homeschool students. See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 22-33-104(2)(b) and People in Interest of D.B., 767 P.2d 801 (Colo. App. 1988).
|Notification:||Parents must enroll their children in “an independent or parochial school which provides a basic academic education.”|
|Qualifications:||No state requirements.|
|Days or hours:||Students must be enrolled for “a minimum of one hundred seventy-two days.” See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 22-33-104(2)(b).|
|Subjects:||Students must study reading, writing, and speaking, mathematics, history, civics, literature, and science as part of a “sequential program of instruction provided by an independent or parochial school. See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 22-33-104(2)(b).|
|Bookkeeping:||No state requirements.|
|Assessment:||No state requirements.|
|Intervention:||No state requirements.|
(3) Private Tutor
Parents with state teacher certifications are exempted from the requirements in the state’s homeschool statute. See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 22-33-104(2)(i)(I).
|Qualifications:||State teaching certificate.|
|Days or hours:||None.|
Services Available to Homeschooled Students
|Part-time enrollment:||State law neither requires nor prohibits public schools from enrolling homeschooled students part-time, leaving the decision up to the local school district. State law does mandate that homeschooled students’ part-time enrollment be counted for purposes of public school funding. See § 22-33-104.5(6)(a).|
|Extracurriculars:||Homeschooled students are guaranteed equal access to public school extracurricular and interscholastic activities. See § 22-33-104.5(6)(b).|
|Special needs:||Students who are homeschooled under the homeschool law are eligible for special needs testing but are not entitled to special needs services. However, because a portion of federal funds are set aside for private schools, students enrolled in “independent schools” and educated at home may be eligible for special needs services through the public schools.|
When the first Colorado families began homeschooling, state law allowed for education at home with approval of the State Board of Education. However, many homeschooling parents found the requirements of the state board too intrusive, and some enrolled their children in private schools while educating them at home even as the Colorado Department of Education contested the legality of this practice. By the time the 1980s drew to a close, the legality of educating a child at home under the supervision of a private school had been settled and a homeschool statute passed in 1988 had replaced state board approval.
For more, see A History of Homeschooling in Colorado.
The Colorado Department of Education offers current and prospective homeschooling parents a guide to homeschooling in Colorado (Home School in Colorado) and an FAQ page (Frequently Asked Questions about Homeschooling).
This overview is for informational purposes only and does not constitute the giving of legal advice. Page last updated September 2015.