Colorado compulsory school attendance age
Colorado law requires that every child who is 6 years old on or before August 1 of the current school year, and under the age of 17, must attend school. If a homeschool is operating under Colorado’s home education statute, the parents may wait to begin actual instruction until their child is 7 years old; however, they must still submit a notice of intent beginning with the school year that the child turns 6 by August 1.
HSLDA believes that a parent-issued diploma and transcript should be sufficient to demonstrate that a child has completed a secondary education. However, even if your child is beyond compulsory school attendance age, there may be situations where you would want to continue to follow the requirements of a home education option recognized under Colorado law until your child graduates from high school (filing a home education notice, keeping attendance and other records, etc.). These records may be requested in some situations, such as obtaining a driver’s license if your child is a minor, enlisting in the military, applying to colleges, or demonstrating eligibility for Social Security benefits. If you are a member of HSLDA and would like additional details, please contact us.
Withdrawing your child from his or her current school
If you want to start homeschooling during the school year and your child is currently enrolled in a public or private school, HSLDA recommends that you formally withdraw your child from that school. If you are going to start homeschooling after the school year is over, and your child is considered enrolled for the following year, we recommend that you withdraw your child before the next school year begins, so that the school does not mark your child as absent or truant.
We invite you to become a member of HSLDA to receive specific advice about withdrawing your child from school and starting to homeschool. Local schools may have specific forms or withdrawal procedures. HSLDA members are eligible to receive individualized advice about whether complying with those procedures is advisable or required. HSLDA members can also use the sample letter of withdrawal for Colorado available in Member Resources to correspond with school officials.
We generally recommend that any correspondence with authorities be sent by “Certified Mail—Return Receipt Requested.” Keep copies of the withdrawal letter and any other paperwork or correspondence, and any green postal receipts, for your personal records.
Note: If your child has never attended a public or private school, this section does not apply.
Complying with Colorado’s homeschool law
In Colorado, there are three options under which you can legally homeschool. You are free to choose the option that best meets your family’s needs.
Members of HSLDA may contact HSLDA with any specific questions about these options—our dedicated legal team can help you understand how the law applies to your situation.
Option 1: Homeschooling under Colorado’s homeschool statute:
Colorado law specifically refers to homeschooling in Colo. Rev. Stat. § 22-33-104.5. To homeschool under this statute, you’ll need to follow these guidelines.
1. Decide who will be homeschooling your child.
Instruction must be provided by a parent, guardian, or adult relative designated by a parent. Members, please contact HSLDA if you have questions regarding how this applies to children taught in co-ops.
2. Notify a school district that you are homeschooling.
The homeschool statute requires parents to provide 14 days’ notice before starting a home-based education program and annually thereafter. You may file this notice of intent with any school district in the state. The notice must include the names, ages, residence, and hours of attendance of the children to be taught. (If desired, HSLDA members may use the notice of intent form we have designed to comply with the law. The form and instructions are available here.)
HSLDA believes that the 14-day advance notice requirement could equate to a waiting period for parents to exercise their right to direct the education of their children, and therefore may be unconstitutional. HSLDA members, please contact us if you wish to discuss whether this requirement applies to your situation.
Here is what to do if the district requests any other information:
Under certain circumstances the school district may request a curriculum plan. The law provides that if a child is “habitually truant” during the six months prior to beginning homeschooling, a school district may request a curriculum outline. HSLDA members should contact us immediately if this situation occurs. If you are not a member of HSLDA, you can join here.
3. Teach the required subjects.
You are required to provide 172 days of instruction, averaging four hours per day, in the following subjects: the United States Constitution, reading, writing, speaking, math, history, civics, literature, and science.
4. Keep good records.
The law requires Colorado homeschooling parents to keep attendance records, test and evaluation results, and immunization records. The school district where you send your original notice of intent can request access to these documents under certain conditions.
If the superintendent “has probable cause to believe” the homeschool program is not in compliance with the law and requests access to a family’s homeschool records, he or she is required to provide the parent with 14 days’ notice. Members, contact HSLDA immediately if you receive such a request.
5. Test or evaluate your student.
Students must be assessed with a nationally standardized achievement test or by a “qualified person” to determine if they have made sufficient academic progress according to their ability. Your child must be tested or evaluated in grades 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11. The test must be a nationally standardized achievement test. If you decide to have your child evaluated rather than tested, you must choose one of the following people to conduct the evaluation:
- a Colorado certified teacher,
- a teacher employed by a private school,
- a licensed psychologist, or
- a person with a graduate degree in education.
Here is what to do with the test or evaluation results:
The results must be submitted to either the school district to which you sent your notice of intent, or you may choose to submit the results to an independent or parochial school within the state of Colorado. If you do not send the results to the school to which you sent the notice of intent, you must inform that school where you sent the test or evaluation results.
Here is what may happen if your student does not make “adequate progress” according to the law:
If a child does not score above the 13th percentile on a nationally standardized achievement test, he or she can be given an alternate version of the same test or a different nationally standardized achievement test. If the score is still below the 13th percentile, the school district will require the parent to place the child in a public, independent, or parochial school until the next testing period.
If an evaluation demonstrates that a child is not making progress in accordance with his or her ability, the school district can require the child’s parents to place the child in a public, independent, or parochial school until the next testing period. If you are a member of HSLDA and have any concerns about these reporting requirements, you should contact us immediately. To become a member of HSLDA, click here.
Option 2: Homeschooling with an independent school:
Colorado law allows for children to be enrolled in established Colorado “independent schools,” through which parents teach their children at home under the independent schools’ supervision. It is also possible for two or more homeschool families to establish their own school by keeping minimal records and providing instruction in the required subjects, in addition to complying with other statutory requirements (see HSLDA’s memorandum on satellite schools).
Option 3: Homeschooling with a certified teacher:
If your child’s instructor (either you as the parent, or someone else whom you designate) holds a valid Colorado teaching certificate, there are no notification, assessment, or other requirements.
The importance of recordkeeping
You can find Colorado’s specific recordkeeping requirements, if any, above. Regardless of what state you live in, HSLDA recommends that you keep detailed records of your homeschool program. These records may be helpful if you face an investigation regarding your homeschooling or your student needs to furnish proof of education.