May 2017 Community College Leader Bulletin

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Volume 6, Issue 4                                                                       May 2017                                             

Inside this issue


Jeremy Varner
Administrator, Division of Community College and Workforce Preparation

Barbara Burrows
Chief, Bureau of Community Colleges

Pradeep Kotamraju
Chief, Bureau of Career and Technical  Education

Heather Doe
Communications Consultant

Welcome to the first electronic monthly bulletin


The education world is fast-paced and dynamic. To keep everyone informed of the latest updates and breaking news impacting community colleges, the Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation is moving to an electronic monthly update. 


We hope you enjoy our first monthly issue and would love to hear your thoughts. Email Heather Doe at with comments and suggestions.


Iowa Lakes Community College honored for "green" initiatives

Green Ribbon Schools

Iowa Lakes Community College was recently named a 2017 Green Ribbon Postsecondary Sustainability Awardee by the United States Department of Education. The college is among 45 schools, nine school districts, and nine postsecondary institutions across the nation being recognized for their promising practices to conserve resources while promoting health and environmental literacy.

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Law expands pathways for Iowans to earn high school equivalency diplomas

High school equivalency diploma

House File 473 was signed into law on April 20, modifying Iowa Code 259A to permit additional options for students to demonstrate competency for earning a high school equivalency diploma. The bill aims to help more Iowans earn their high school equivalency diplomas, which helps to increase their earning potential, expands employment opportunities, and prepares awardees for additional training or postsecondary education required for many of the state’s high-growth jobs.

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Third annual education outcomes report released

education ball

The third annual longitudinal report analyzing education, employment, and wage patterns of Iowa’s community college graduates was presented to the State Board of Education on May 11.

The report, Education Outcomes: Certificate, Diploma, and Associate Degree Programs, follows students as they progress through postsecondary education and training pathways at Iowa’s community colleges and into the workforce. Information about community college awards, time-to-degree, retention, migration, transfer to four year institutions, employment, wages, and wage clusters is examined.

Developed in partnership with Iowa Workforce Development (IWD), this report follows five cohorts of graduates from academic years 2011-2015. Each graduate is tracked into continued education or the workforce.

Of the 88,517 students who completed short- and long-term awards between AY 2011 and 2015:

  • The majority earned awards in liberal arts and sciences, health professions, business management and marketing, and mechanics and repairers programs.
  • 82 percent remained in Iowa a year after program completion.
  •  Over 51 percent continued onto further education, either in state or out-of-state.
  • Approximately 40 percent gained employment within the state the first year following completion of their award.

Students earning career technical awards such as Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degrees had higher rates of employment and earnings above the state’s 2015 per capita income of $28,628. For the AY 2015 cohort, 94 percent of AAS degree recipients were employed within one year of graduation and earned median wages of $35,915.  

As expected, students earning transfer-oriented Associate of Arts (AA) degrees continued their education at high rates, but those who did not transfer had relatively weak labor market outcomes as compared to students earning awards designed for workforce preparation. The retail trade, health care and social sciences, and accommodation and food services industry sectors employed the largest share of college parallel completers entering the workforce after graduation.

Contact Paula Nissen at or 515-281-3550 with comments or questions.

Fact sheet summarizes career and technical education redesign


The division has created a new fact sheet summarizing the provisions of House File 2392, the state's first comprehensive update to career and technical education (CTE) in Iowa since the 1980's. The fact sheet explains the redesign efforts underway across the state and how they benefit students, businesses, and the economy.

Questions about the fact sheet, which can be downloaded from the Department's CTE Redesign webpage, should be directed to Pradeep Kotamraju at or 515-281-4716.

Students earn high school diplomas, college degrees

associate degrees

Six high school seniors from Valley High School in West Des Moines will already have college degrees in hand when they walk across the stage at their high school graduation later this month. Their stories could be told at any high school and Iowa community college where partnerships provide students the opportunity to earn college credit in high school.

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Progress being made on common course numbering

Work has been underway since January to update the common course numbering (CCN) system, a uniform numbering convention for equivalent courses, across Iowa’s community colleges. CCN makes it easier for students to identify and transfer courses between colleges because equivalent courses are labeled  with the same course number across all community colleges.  There are over 13,000 active course numbers across the system in the CCN, including many in the over 1,400 career and technical program options offered through Iowa's 15 community colleges.   

In the past four months, the number of equivalent courses with different names has been reduced from 900 to only 26 courses, with the remainder on track to be eliminated by this fall.  

Future goals for the system include aligning common courses that have different credit hours, setting basic naming standards for new courses, and reviewing course objectives in faculty discipline content meetings for those courses with the highest common usage across the colleges

Questions about the CCN project can be directed to Chris Russell, education consultant, at or

National summit brings together leaders in educational equity


A team of Iowa stakeholders recently attended the National Summit for Educational Equity (NSEE) in Washington, DC, to advocate for career and technical education (CTE). The NSEE professional development conference is hosted by the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE) whose mission is to build educators’ capacity to implement effective solutions for increasing student access, educational equity, and workforce diversity.  The State of Iowa is an established member of NAPE and collaborates with the organization on multiple training initiatives regarding nontraditional careers and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programming for special population students.

Iowa was well represented by a diverse group of stakeholders, including Linda Bisgaard from Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa; Donna Burkett with Iowa Workforce Development; Rhonda McRina from Hawkeye Community College; Kathy Nacos-Burds from Northeast Iowa Community College; Jeanette Thomas with the Iowa Department of Education; and Tara Troester from Cedar Rapids Community Schools. 

Several team members also had the opportunity to serve on a conference panel discussing Iowa’s collaboration with NAPE to deliver critical professional development to teachers/instructors, counselors and advisors, administrators, and community collaborators in order to increase student access to career pathways through CTE and STEM.

The team also attended a public policy day entitled, “Recognizing the Value and Supporting the Alliances between Career and Technical Education, Workforce and Industry.”  As part of the policy day, team members visited Senator Joni Ernst, Congressman David Young and Senator Charles Grassley’s office, to advocate for equity and accountability in Perkins and Reauthorization of the Perkins Act, along with related policy issues impacting career and technical education.

For information on the Iowa and NAPE partnership, or to learn more about the equity projects in Iowa, contact Jeanette Thomas, education consultant at or 515-281-3636.

Tackling critical IT worker shortages

Cracking the code

It’s hard to believe that in today’s technology-driven culture there is a shortage of people interested in high-tech careers. With jobs in computing growing at twice the rate of other types of jobs, and virtually everyone hyperconnected through tech devices, one would think this would translate into career interest.

To close the technology skills gap and break down barriers so more Iowans can see themselves in this field, IT sector partnerships have formed across the state.

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