February Community College Leader Bulletin

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Community College Leader Bulletin

Volume 7, Issue 6                                                                       February 2018                                                 www.educateiowa.gov

Inside this issue

Jeremy Varner
Administrator, Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation

Barbara Burrows
Chief, Bureau of Community Colleges

Pradeep Kotamraju
Chief, Bureau of Career and Technical  Education

Heather Doe
Communications Consultant, Bureau of Community Colleges

2017 Condition of Community Colleges report available

Condition Report

The Division released its Annual Condition of Iowa’s Community Colleges 2017 report at the State Board of Education meeting on January 25. The report provides a comprehensive overview, including academic year and trend data on enrollment, credit and noncredit programs, joint enrollment, adult education, online course delivery, student success, human resources, finances, and more.

This year’s report sports a new look and organizational flow. The report takes readers on a journey and provides context to show how Iowa’s community colleges play an important role in helping hundreds of thousands of students each year work toward a credential or degree, receive career training, earn a high school equivalency diploma, improve English language learning, or transfer to a four-year college or university. 

Success stories help to put faces to the data and community and statewide collaborative efforts are featured to illustrate the widespread impact the colleges have on their communities. The report shows how the role of community colleges are essential for workforce training and retraining, enhancing the quality of life of their local communities, and fueling local and state economies. 

Report highlights include:

  • 132,694: The number of students enrolled in community college credit courses, down slightly from 135,567 the year before.
  • 49,868: The number of jointly enrolled students who earned college credit while in high school, up from 47,907 the year before.
  • 18,115: The number of credit awards earned, representing an award rate of 13.7 percent. This rate represents no change from the year before.
  • 19,261: The number of non-credit awards earned. The majority of these awards (57.7 percent) were industry-awarded credentials designed to lead to or enhance employment opportunities. 

The full Condition report, as well as disaggregated data tables and interactive data visualization tools, are available on the Department’s website. Contact Barbara Burrows at 515-281-0319 or barbara.burrows@iowa.gov with comments or questions. 

Future Ready Iowa legislation proposed

Future Ready Iowa

As highlighted in Governor Reynold’s Condition of the State address, Future Ready Iowa legislation was proposed to enhance Iowa’s talent pipeline.  Building off of the Future Ready Iowa Alliance’s recommendations, the legislation aims to ensure 70 percent of Iowa’s workforce have postsecondary education or training by 2025.

The legislation includes:

  • A last dollar scholarship program for credit programs in high demand fields.  The scholarship program would target both recent graduates and working adults and would cover the cost of tuition and fees after Pell grants and other state financial aid awards are applied.  The program would expand beyond the skilled worker shortage tuition grant by including private and independent colleges. 
  • A grant program to support bachelor’s degree completion in high demand fields.
  • A volunteer mentor program to support the scholarship programs.
  • A registered apprenticeship development program.
  • A youth internship pilot program.
  • An online work-based learning clearinghouse.
  • A program to support college credit courses for high school students during the summer.
  • An employer innovation fund to match private sector spending on training programs.
  • Future Ready Iowa staff and marketing.

A variety of other bills have been proposed impacting community colleges including fiscal year 2017 deappropriations, CTE law modifications, elimination of state accreditation, and more.  The Department provides a bill tracking list here.    

Regional Planning Partnerships (RPPs) prepare for CTE program approval


Work is underway in preparation for Department approval of all secondary career and technical education (CTE) programs in the state, as required by H.F. 2392. The law requires that all secondary CTE programs be approved by the Department over the next five years to ensure programs meet board standards, are capable of responding to technological change and innovation, meet the educational needs of students, and are aligned with industry needs.

To guide this work, fifteen RPPs, which are aligned to the 15 community college regions, have been established. These RPPs have three major tasks for the 2017-18 academic year:

1.  Develop a multi-year plan that focuses broadly on ensuring that all students in Iowa receive a high quality CTE education;

2.  Produce a budget and expenditure plan that is tied to the RPP multi-year plan; and

3.  Create a schedule for how the RPP intends to have all CTE programs reviewed over a period of five years.

To assist with the program approval process, the Division’s CTE bureau created a self-study template which is being tested by school districts within each RPP across several of the service areas. This “pilot” began in November 2017 and was completed in February 2018. 

The first set of CTE programs coming up for program approval are expected to complete the self-study throughout this spring and summer. Completed self studies will be submitted to the respective RPP for review, after which the RPP will submit the final studies to the Department for approval. The Department plans to complete its review for this first round of program approvals in September 2018.

More information about CTE redesign and HF 2392 is available on the Department’s website. For questions about this initiative, contact Pradeep Kotamraju, chief for the bureau of career and technical education, at pradeep.kotamraju@iowa.gov, or 515-281-4716.

Diversity and inclusion: Mitigating unconscious biases


Unconscious bias can sneak up on the best of us. Claudia Schabel knows that well. Schabel, founder and president of Schabel Solutions, a consulting firm that works with businesses to build inclusive workplaces, was one of the expert presenters for the 2018 Expanding Possibilities: Iowa Adult Education and Literacy Virtual Conference, which was held online Jan. 30 through Feb. 1. The virtual conference is a collaborative effort between the Iowa Department of Education, Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation, Adult Education and Literacy, and the Iowa Literacy Council .

With over a decade of experience as a diversity and inclusion practitioner and strategist with Fortune 500 companies, Schabel helps businesses, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions address areas of equity, cultural competency, diversity, and inclusion. In an exclusive interview, Schabel reflects on today’s collaborative education system, focusing the value of diversity and how unconscious biases impact cultural competency.

Read More

Delegation explores German technical and vocational education system


Pradeep Kotamraju, the Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation's (Division) chief for the Bureau of Career and Technical Education, recently represented Iowa and Advance CTE on a delegation visiting Germany to learn more about its technical and vocational education (TVET) system, the international name for career and technical education (CTE). The Goethe Institut brought together leaders from education, workforce development, industry, and law makers who had the opportunity to visit with students, educators, employers, and government officials.

Advance CTE, the longest-standing national non-profit representing state directors and state leaders responsible for secondary, postsecondary, and adult CTE across all 50 states and U.S. territories, recently shared insights from the delegates' visit.

Read More

Collaboration and coordination leave-behind available

leave behind

Working with the Iowa Association of Community College Trustees (IACCT) and the community college presidents, the Division recently created a leave-behind publication to showcase the many ways Iowa’s 15 community colleges work collaboratively to ensure efficient and effective delivery of programs and services. The document can be used when talking with stakeholders about how Iowa’s community colleges are well-positioned to collaboratively to address statewide education and labor market challenges.

The document, which focuses on success through collaboration and coordination, includes areas of common interest, partnership engagement, leadership, innovation, accountability, and research. 

Contact Paula Nissen at paula.nissen2@iowa.gov or 515-418-8273 with questions about the document.

Work underway on statewide developmental education recommendations

developmental education

The Developmental Education Working Group (DEWG), consisting of representatives from Iowa's 15 community colleges and the Board of Regents, met on January 26 to continue work from its inaugural meeting in October. During the meeting, the group reviewed national and state research, consulted with experts in the field, evaluated best practices, and began to draft initial recommendations.

The group has been tasked with conducting a statewide review of developmental education practices and preparing a report with recommendations to enhance student access, retention, success, and completion. The report is expected to be published in March 2018.   

In addition to the full working group, four subcommittees have were formed to look more closely at specific areas of developmental education, including:  intake/advising; assessment/placement; success/retention; and teaching/delivery methods. Their in-depth work will assist the full DEWG as recommendations are drafted.

As a parallel initiative, another state group, the High School and Community College Developmental Education Partnerships Working Group, convened on December 15 in Des Moines. This efforts of this work group is further defined in the following article.

More information about the work group is available on the Department’s website. For questions about these initiatives, contact Chris Russell, education consultant, at 515-725-2247 or chris.russell@iowa.gov.

Developmental education working group focused on high school students

Best practices

In addition to the Developmental Education Working Group, which is tasked with reviewing current and best practices at Iowa’s 15 community colleges, the Department has also formed a separate working group focused on reviewing local initiatives being piloted by several community colleges and high schools. The working group consists of 14 key individuals involved in current pilot projects where community colleges are working with local high schools to assess and close gaps in reading, writing, and/or math to ensure students graduate from high school ready for postsecondary education and training. 

The Future Ready Iowa Alliance final recommendations include a specific recommendation regarding developmental education efforts for students still in high school. The High School and Community College Developmental Education Partnerships Working Group is addressing this through a review of the current pilot projects to identify best practices, identify essential components, and make recommendations for a scalable model to identify gaps early, increase student success, and ensure college readiness upon graduation. These efforts will also help inform the Future Ready Iowa strategies to make progress toward increasing the percent of Iowans who earn postsecondary degrees, certificates, or other credentials.  

The group is anticipated to meet no more than twice, with the final report and recommendations by the end of February 2018.

For questions about this initiative, contact Zoё Thornton, education consultant, at 515-981-3306, or zoe.thornton@iowa.gov.

Iowa Skilled Workforce and Job Creation Fund reports released


The Division recently released fiscal year (FY) 2017 reports for the Pathways for Career Employment (PACE), Gap Tuition Assistance, Work-Based Learning Intermediary Network, and Adult Basic Education (ABE) and Adult Education and Literacy Programs (AEL). These programs are funded through the Department’s allocation of the Iowa Skilled Workforce and Job Creation Fund, which was created to support worker training and job creation efforts with funding from the state’s gaming industry receipts. A report was also released on and the Workforce Training and Economic Development Fund, which is the main source of funding for career academies, career and technical education (CTE), and general training/retraining expenses at Iowa’s community colleges. FY17 report highlights include the following:

  • A total of 965 applicants were approved for tuition assistance under the Gap Tuition Program with a statewide completion rate of 79.9 percent.
  • A total of 3,361 applicants were approved for tuition assistance under PACE with a statewide completion rate of 84.4 percent.
  • The Iowa Work-Based Learning Intermediary Network provided work-based learning experiences to 20,309 students.
  • Iowa’s AEL programs served 11,688 participants.

More information on the Iowa Skilled Workforce and Job Creation Fund is available on the Department’s website. Contact Paula Nissen at paula.nissen2@iowa.gov or 515-418-8273 with questions about any of these reports.

Division staff elected to national education boards


Two consultants within the Division have recently been elected to serve on national educational boards.

Lisa Stange, FCS consultant for the Bureau of Career and Technical Education, was elected as the Region III vice president-elect for the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE). As a board member, Lisa will primarily be responsible for overseeing and providing direction for ACTE, which is the nation’s largest not-for-profit association committed to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for successful careers. 


Paula Nissen, lead education program consultant for the Bureau of Community Colleges, was elected to the board of directors for University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute (OU EDI) representing the Iowa Department of Education. As the only professional-level program of its type in the U.S., OU EDI is an executive development certificate program that has been the primary professional training program for those in the business of economic development since its creation in 1962.

Contact Lisa Stange at lisa.stange@iowa.gov, or 515-242-5032, or Paula Nissen at paula.nissen2@iowa.gov, or 515-418-8273, with comments or questions.

Division welcomes new member


Selena Diggins joined the Division on December 1st as the OWI Clerk Specialist.  Selena joins us from the Iowa Attorney General's Office where she worked as a receptionist/secretary since September 2015. Prior to that state position, Selena served as a receptionist at Faegre, Baker, Daniels, LLP for more than seven years, where she provided secretarial support for the lawyers and legal assistants in the downtown Des Moines firm. Within the Bureau of Community Colleges, Selena will help our OWI clients fulfill their responsibilities to regain their driving privileges.

Contact Barb Burrows, chief for the bureau of community colleges, at barbara.burrows@iowa.gov or 515-281-0319 with questions.