Over the summer, Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds held an education summit that sought ideas and strategies for what might be done to improve Iowa’s education system. According to the Department of Education’s report, Rising to Greatness: An Imperative for Improving Iowa’s Schools, that was released concurrently with the start of the education summit, Iowa has slipped in its standing as an educational leader in the country.
The Governor's administration took the next steps toward education reform on October 3 with the release of One Unshakable Vision: World-Class Schools for Iowa, which highlights the long-term steps toward reforming Iowa schools, changing how teachers are paid, and allowing classroom innovation more room to grow. The blueprint is the governor's comprehensive effort to build support for making Iowa a leader in education both in the country and world.
Here are some highlights of what the report included:
-Attract and Support Talented Educators: According to the report, Iowa will attract talented educators by increasing teacher pay, raising the minimum GPA for teacher candidates, improve pre-service teacher field experiences, and expand alternative ways into the teaching profession to attract top talent.
-Create Educator Leadership Roles: The reports suggests establishing teacher-mentors and master-teachers in every school building. These teachers would be paid significantly more and take on roles outside of classroom that would include a peer-based evaluation system. Mentors would teach 70-80 percent of the day and coach others 20-30 percent, and master teachers would teach 50 percent of the day and coach/evaluate/plan the other half of the day.
-Improve and Expand the Iowa Core: The governor’s report suggests putting Iowa’s standards on par with the highest performing school systems in the world. Additionally it recommends establishing a standing state-level committee, made up primarily of teachers, who would keep the standards up-to-date and change them when needed.
-Establish a New Assessment Framework: The report says the state needs to develop new formative (continuing) and summative (end of unit/curriculum/school year) assessments. Moreover, the reports suggests that the state should seek a waiver from the accountability system required under the federal No Child Left Behind law.
-Increase the Opportunities for School Innovation: This would allow school districts to try new ways of teaching. The State Board of Education would provide waivers to the school districts that wanted to innovate and try something different. Additionally the governor's report suggests allowing more charter schools into the state.
-Create More Online Learning Options: School districts can determine whether online options are appropriate for their students and can choose to make these courses available.
-Make a Statewide Parent and Community Engagement Network Available: The report proposes establishing a statewide effort to increase parent and community engagement in every school in Iowa, specifically targeting parent and community involvement in high-poverty neighborhoods.
You can read the full report here.
Picture courtesy the governor's office