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Instructional Hours vs. Days Updates (March 2014 School Leader Update)


Effective July 1, 2014, districts and accredited nonpublic schools have the option to choose between 180 days or 1,080 hours of instruction. Prior Department of Education guidance required that schools and school districts report whether they are choosing hours or days to the department by March 1, 2014. However, given the legislative fixes that needed to be made during this legislative session to the instructional hours law, we have decided that schools will report this in the Spring 2014 Basic Educational Data Survey (BEDS).  

The bill has passed through both houses of the Legislature. The legislation bill restores language struck last year that permitted a school or school district choosing days to record a day of school with less than the minimum instructional hours for emergency, health or safety factors, for staff development opportunities, and parent-teacher conferences. The bill provides that a minimum school day shall consist of six hours of instructional time. This bill also provides non-public schools with the ability to request a waiver of the school start date along with their public counterparts.    

For the full text of the bill click here:

The passage of these fixes will undoubtedly make it easier for schools and districts to stay with their current days calendars. Nonetheless, the option to choose hours for next year is also now available and may provide greater flexibility for schools and districts in planning their school calendars. Below is a quick reference chart which highlights the differences between choosing instructional hours versus days.  

Full guidance on instructional hours versus days may be found at


1,080 Hours

180 Days

Parent-teacher conferences



What is an hour and day

Hour is 60 minutes of instruction, excluding lunch.

Day is 6 hours of instruction, excluding lunch.




Passing time



Minimum hours

No minimums

6 hours (this is new)

Professional Development

No, may not be counted

No, may not be counted

Emergency closing for one attendance center

Count the hours the center was in attendance

Must meet 6 hours to count as a day

What building do we count when it comes to instructional hours

The building with the least amount of instructional hours.

The building with the least amount of instructional hours.  The minimum must be at least 6 hours per day.

Early outs

Only instruction time counts toward 1,080 hours.

Must provide 6 hours of instruction for the day to count

Early Start date

Must have an early start waiver

Must have an early start waiver


Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on December 01, 2015 at 11:53pm.