Homeschooling laws can change, so be sure to check the Colorado Department of Education website for updates.
Are you ready to start homeschooling in Colorado? You may have many questions about topics like what you need to do to begin, what reporting and testing is required, and how you need to interact with your local school district. You will want to start by understanding Colorado homeschool law. You may feel overwhelmed as you start this process, but there are resources available and other homeschoolers who have already succeeded on this adventure!
Here is some information on Colorado homeschool requirements to get you started:
Colorado Homeschool Law
According to Colorado Education Law, children who are under the age of six on or before August 1 of each year or under the age of seventeen shall attend public school. However, “a child who is participating in a nonpublic home-based educational program is not subject to compulsory school attendance.” In the case of a child has been “habitually truant […] at any time during the last six months that the child attended school before proposed enrollment in a nonpublic home-based educational program,” the parents must “first submit a written description of the curricula to be used in the program along with the written notification of establishment of the program.”
A “nonpublic home-based educational program” means “the 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, and which is not under the supervision and control of a school district. This educational program is not intended to be and does not qualify as a private and nonprofit school.”
Based on CRS 22-33-104.5 of the Colorado Education Law:
“It is the primary right and obligation of the parent to choose the proper education and training for children under his care and supervision. It is recognized that home-based education is a legitimate alternative to classroom attendance for the instruction of children and that any regulation of nonpublic home-based educational programs should be sufficiently flexible to accommodate a variety of circumstances. The general assembly further declares that nonpublic home-based educational programs shall be subject only to minimum state controls which are currently applicable to other forms of nonpublic education.”
Do I need to notify the school district of my intent to homeschool my child?
“Any parent establishing a nonpublic home-based educational program shall provide written notification of the establishment of said program to a school district within the state fourteen days prior to the establishment of said program and each year thereafter if the program is maintained.” The notice of intent shall include the “name, age, place of residence, and number of hours of attendance of each child enrolled in the homeschool program.” Written notification must be re-submitted to the school district each year.
“A parent who intends to establish a nonpublic home-based educational program is not required to:
- Provide written notification of the program to a school district within the state until the parent’s child is six years of age;
- Establish the program until the parent’s child is seven years of age; or
- Continue the program or provide the notification after the child is sixteen years of age.”
A homeschooled child in Colorado may attend a public school for a portion of the school day.
According to the Colorado Department of Education, “Home school is considered nonpublic and is not regulated by the state of Colorado. The parent who oversees the home school program is taking on the responsibility of obtaining books, supplies, tests, and is responsible for any costs associated. Because home schooling is considered nonpublic education, home school is not accredited by the Colorado Department of Education or by a local school district.”
Colorado Homeschool Requirements
Even though Colorado does not highly regulate homeschooling, there are some Colorado homeschool requirements you must satisfy when you homeschool:
- Begin homeschooling by age 7.
- File the required notice of intent to homeschool each year.
- “Include no less than one hundred seventy-two days of instruction, averaging four instructional contact hours per day.”
- Teach at least the following: “communication skills of reading, writing, and speaking, mathematics, history, civics, literature, science, and regular courses of instruction in the constitution of the United States.” According to the state department of education website, “The selection of curriculum is at the discretion of the parent who is overseeing the homeschooling program. The state cannot offer any guidance in this area and encourages contacting the district that received the written notification if there are further questions.”
- Evaluate each homeschooled child “when such child reaches grades three, five, seven, nine, and eleven. Each child shall be given a nationally standardized achievement test to evaluate the child’s academic progress, or a qualified person shall evaluate the child’s academic progress. The test or evaluation results, whichever is appropriate, shall be submitted to the school district that received the notification […] or an independent or parochial school within the state of Colorado. If the test or evaluation results are submitted to an independent or parochial school, the name of such school shall be provided to the school district that received the notification […]. The purpose of such tests or evaluations shall be to evaluate the educational progress of each child.”
- Stay current with homeschooling laws and requirements.
How are my homeschooled child’s test results used to determine educational progress?
Homeschooled students must have academic progress evaluated in grades three, five, seven, nine, and eleven. “If test results submitted to the appropriate school district […] show that a child participating in a nonpublic home-based educational program received a composite score on said test which was above the thirteenth percentile, such child shall continue to be exempt from the compulsory school attendance requirement of this article. If the child’s composite score on said test is at or below the thirteenth percentile, the school district shall require the parents to place said child in a public or independent or parochial school until the next testing period; except that no action shall be taken until the child is given the opportunity to be retested using an alternate version of the same test or a different nationally standardized achievement test selected by the parent from a list of approved tests supplied by the state board.”
What records do I need to keep when I homeschool my child?
“The records of each child participating in a nonpublic home-based educational program shall be maintained on a permanent basis by the parent in charge and in control of said program. The records shall include, but need not be limited to:
- Immunization records
- Test and evaluation results
“Such records shall be produced to the school district that received the notification […] upon fourteen days’ written notice if the superintendent of said school district has probable cause to believe that said program is not in compliance with the guidelines.”
In addition to the required recordkeeping, we also recommend you do some personal recordkeeping to provide verification of education in the event you would need to show some form of educational proof to the state or other legal entities or to prepare for post-secondary pathways. This includes:
- Lists of texts and workbooks used
- Student schoolwork samples and/or portfolios
- Correspondence with school officials
You may also be able to find more information on homeschooling in Colorado through your local school district.
Other Colorado Homeschool Policies
Once you make sure that you are following Colorado homeschool law and meeting Colorado homeschool requirements, here are some other things you need to know:
Can my homeschooled child participate in extracurricular activities offered by the public school?
A homeschooled child “has the same rights as a student enrolled in a public school of the school district in which the child resides or is enrolled and may participate on an equal basis in any extracurricular or interscholastic activity offered by a public school or offered by a private school, at the private school’s discretion […] and is subject to the same rules of any interscholastic organization or association of which the student’s school of participation is a member.”
“A school district, a public school, or an interscholastic organization or association shall not require a child who is participating in a nonpublic home-based educational program and who chooses to participate in an extracurricular activity at a public school selected by the district to enroll in a course or to complete any course credits as an eligibility requirement or other condition for participating in the extracurricular activity at the district-selected school of participation; except that the school district, public school, or interscholastic organization may require the student to enroll in a course if the extracurricular activity is an extension of the course, such as a performing arts group.”
What if I want to re-enroll my child in the public school after being homeschooled?
“Any child who has participated in a nonpublic home-based educational program and who subsequently enrolls in the public school system may be tested by the school district in which the child has enrolled for the purpose of placing the child in the proper grade and shall then be placed at the grade level deemed most appropriate by said school district, with the consent of the child’s parent or legal guardian. The school district shall accept the transcripts for credit from the non-public home-based educational program for any such child; except that the school district may reject such transcripts if the school district administers testing to such child and the testing does not verify the accuracy of such transcripts.”
See the Home School in Colorado page on the Colorado Department of Education’s website for even more information on homeschooling in Colorado.
Connect With Local Homeschoolers
Remember, too, that you are not alone. You should connect with local homeschoolers from your state, who can help you with Colorado homeschool law and Colorado homeschool requirements and offer you all kinds of practical advice and suggestions. They can give you guidance on everything from curriculum to daily schedules to recordkeeping, and they may be able to share information about local resources, support groups, and field trips. Click the image below to find Colorado Homeschool Groups by county.