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School Board eyes homeschool rules

BY HOLLY HINES | NOVEMBER 10, 2009 7:20 AM

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Homeschooled students in Iowa City may need to attend a district high school for at least two years to receive a diploma under a newly proposed policy change.

The Iowa City School Board will conduct a first reading of the policy — which would require the students to enroll full-time for two-consecutive years — at its meeting toay.

At the moment, the district has no policies on the issue, officials said.

Superintendent Lane Plugge said district officials have seen a recent increase in homeschooled students transferring into the district for only one trimester to earn a diploma.

“If you want a diploma, you have to go to school here,” Plugge said, and he views district programming as an important element of graduating from the district.

According to the proposed policy, the district would limit acceptable transfer credits to only those earned from state-accredited public or private institutions. Additionally, it states students’ GPAs would be calculated beginning from the time they enrolled in the district.

Board members need to approve three readings of the policy before it passes.

Chris Kolarik, an administrator for the Iowa City Home School Assistance Program, said the number of homeschooled students reaching a high-school level of education has gradually increased since the program started in 1992. The exact number of students involved with the program is fluid, she said, and therefore difficult to track.

There were 1.5 million homeschooled students in the United States in 2007, according to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Kolarik said the students and district officials would likely benefit from the policy changes clarifying the requirements.

Jan Krieger, a teaching supervisor for the home-schooling program, agreed.

Diplomas are not necessary for homeschooled students to attend most colleges, she said, and many have webpages outlining admission requirements specific to homeschooled students.

The UI admits homeschooled students based on their transcripts, study areas, and ACT or SAT scores, according to the Office of Admissions website.

Krieger said she often advises students involved with the assistance program to contact college advisers to discuss requirements for homeschooled students.

In addition to advising students about college admission, program officials help homeschooled students gain access to district curriculum and activities such as field trips and speakers.

Krieger said she hopes the Iowa Department of Education will consider policy changes in addition to Iowa City’s.

“As homeschooling becomes more popular, these are issues that need to be addressed,” she said.


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