August 2018 School Leader Update

school leader update - a monthly journal for iowa educators

August 2018

A little Wiser: Director returns to blogging

director ryan wise

When my oldest son was born in 2005, before the full bloom of social media, I created a blog (“A Little Wiser”) so that my wife and I could share pictures with friends and family. As Facebook rose in popularity, our blog posts waned in frequency. All we wanted to do was quickly share slices of our life with the occasional witty quip, and we found an easier way to do it. 

Today, though, I’m returning to the world of blogging, albeit in a professional capacity. This new blog will allow me to share my monthly School Leader Update columns, pictures of school visits, and my Twitter feed all in one conveniently located place. It will also provide another opportunity for me to engage directly with Iowans who are passionate about improving education in our state. I hope you’ll give it a look!

As I was preparing to launch the blog, I looked back at the articles I’ve written over the last three years as director. While I have covered a range of themes, my posts have consistently focused on a few key priorities: creating the nation’s most robust system of teacher leadership; supporting schools’ early literacy efforts; developing and implementing rigorous academic standards; crafting a system of accountability, support and continuous improvement through Differentiated Accountability and the Every Student Succeeds Act; and ensuring Iowa’s students are Future Ready by having access to high-quality career and technical education and work-based learning experiences.

I have also used my column to share insight into the Department’s mission (“Creating excellence in education through leadership and service”) and vision (“Iowa learners experience high levels of success and develop the capacity to continually grow as successful, healthy, and productive citizens in a global community”). While my writing tends to focus often on kindergarten through 12th grade, I was reminded several times in the past month of the critical importance of supporting both our youngest (birth to five) and oldest learners (adults). 

Blocked email messages. Are you getting what you need?

Envelope icon

 Over the past couple of years, the Iowa Department of Education has moved much of its regular email correspondence to a web-based service called GovDelivery.
On your end, the only thing that changed was the “from” email address, which can come from one of three different email addresses:,, or
Be sure to check your spam/junk folders for emails from these addresses to make sure our emails aren't getting caught in your filters. You are also encouraged to ask your IT support team to whitelist the three email addresses as well.
If you have any questions, contact Lisa Albers at

Back to top

Register for a Future Ready Iowa Regional Summit

Future Ready Iowa logo

School administrators are invited to register for the Future Ready Iowa Regional Summits this fall to collaborate with local partners on workforce solutions. 

The summits are scheduled for late September and early October in nine communities: Atlantic, Burlington, Davenport, Denison, Fort Dodge, Muscatine, Pella, Sheffield and Spencer. The events will bring together partners in education, business, economic development and community to create local strategies that ensure Iowans are future ready.

The summits will provide a platform for strategies outlined in the Future Ready Iowa Act. Each summit will provide tailored discussions on how to find, use and talk about a community’s occupation, income, education and demographic data. Partners will also discuss underrepresented populations, business/education partnerships and preparation for the changing workforce.

Future Ready Iowa’s goal is for 70 percent of the state’s workforce to have education or training beyond high school by 2025. Register to attend a summit at

 Back to top

Transfer in Iowa web portal assists students with transfers (even high school students)

Transfer in Iowa written across Iowa flag.

Iowa’s Regent universities offer the Transfer in Iowa website to assist students navigate the college transfer process and plan for their academic future.

Each year, thousands of students, including high school students taking college-level courses, transfer from Iowa’s community colleges to state public universities. This is a big step, so the website was designed to provide information to answer the question - How will my credits transfer?  

Students will discover how their community college courses transfer to the Regents by following links on the website. They can also learn about individual program articulation agreements between various institutions.  

In addition to using this online resource, students should discuss their plans with both community college and university advisors. The website provides contact information for transfer advisors at each institution.

School districts should encourage the use of Transfer in Iowa by all students interested in attending college, as well as academic counselors.

Back to top

Perkins reauthorization bill signed into law

Student using a large, power drill in class.

Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise released a statement in response to the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which was signed into law on July 31 by President Trump. The law amends and reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006, which provides almost $1.2 billion in federal support for programs in all 50 states and U.S. territories, including support for integrated career pathway programs. Iowa receives nearly $12 million annually, divided between secondary education and community colleges.

The Department is preparing to work on an inclusive state plan development process and is gearing up to help institutions understand the changes in the new law. Much of the work that Iowa has already accomplished as part of the statewide secondary CTE redesign effort, signed into state law in 2016, already aligns well with this new federal legislation.

For more information, contact Pradeep Kotamraju at 515-281-4716 or

Back to top

Register for upcoming trainings on active shooter, natural disaster plans

Word graphic UNPREPARED with the UN crossed out

Registration is under way for an all-day workshop designed to help schools create high-quality emergency plans that cover active shooter and natural disaster events.

Passed into law by the Legislature (Senate File 2364), it requires all k-12 schools in Iowa to write plans that prepare for these events.

The workshops are being held throughout the state at each Area Education Agency,

As opposed to district-wide emergency plans, each school must have a high-quality emergency plan that is unique to each building.

The workshop will focus on specific planning required.  Attendees will also learn how to form a planning team. All schools in Iowa must have their plans completed by June 30, 2019.

The workshops are held in September and October. Register for the workshop nearest you.  To view trainings by region, visit the training schedule.

For questions, contact David Johnston with Homeland Security and Emergency Management at 515-725-3295 or or Nicole Proesch at

Back to top

Iowa Learning Online fall and spring enrollment open now

Iowa Learning Online logo

Iowa Learning Online (ILO) is currently accepting enrollments for the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 terms.  ILO offers high school learning opportunities for Iowa students through high quality, rigorous courses delivered online. All courses are taught by Iowa licensed and appropriately endorsed teachers. ILO is also offering Branch Out, a service designed to help schools take the first step to offering their own online service. ILO provides the infrastructure and courses, and the local school provides the teacher.

View our website to see our course offerings or sign up. To better meet student needs and diverse schedules of Iowa schools, ILO will provide two separate cohorts offset by two weeks.

Fall 2018 Cohort A:  Aug. 23 – Dec. 19

Fall 2018 Cohort B:  Sept. 6 – Jan. 11

Spring 2019 Cohort A:  Jan. 2 - May 7

Spring 2019 Cohort B:  Jan. 16 - May 17

Back to Top

No-fee professional development for educators of English Learners

Teacher with English Language Learners

The Iowa Department of Education Title III staff are planning a two-day staff development event with no registration fee for educators across Iowa.

Trainings will be limited at this point, but will include training for general educators and content teachers who teach English Learners. One hundred and fifty  people will be selected to attend one day on Oct. 4 or 5, and one day on Dec. 6 or 7. To apply to attend, submit this EL Professional Development form by Sept. 15.

Back to top

New English language screening assessment required for all Iowa schools

ELPA21 logo

Beginning Aug. 1, all Iowa schools must use the new English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century (ELPA21) Dynamic Screening Assessment for decisions regarding possible student placement in English language instructional programs, and the Tennessee English Language Placement Assessment (TELPA) is no longer accepted.  A webinar posted on the ELPA21 page of the Iowa Department of Education website provides an overview of the screener and the process for online administration.  More details, including administration certification, are available in online training courses found at AEA Learning Online.

  • ELPA21 Dynamic Screener Training – Required for all school district staff members who will administer the screening assessment (consists of two modules).
  • Gearing up for ELPA21 Assessment – Highly recommended for any school district staff member new to the online ELPA21 Assessment System.

For assistance, contact Jennifer Riedemann at 515-661-7066 or

Back to Top

Types of focus and coherence errors when implementing mathematics standards

Male teacher at white board teaching a math lesson

There are some common errors when implementing the mathematics standards. The focus gives the weighting and the coherence gives the connections. This list can help districts identify and address error types. These may include: 

  • Sprawl
  • Wrong grain size
  • Wrong focus
  • Narrow focus
  • Priorities do not cohere
  • Congestion
  • Inelegance
  • Waste
  • Resolution of hierarchy
  • Excessively literal reading

For a more in-depth evaluation, see the Research Report Learning Trajectories in Mathematics: A Foundation for Standards, Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction.

For more information on implementing the Shifts in the Mathematic Standards, visit the Iowa Core blog. For questions, contact April Pforts at 515-314-6243 or

Back to Top

Course to College registration

Course to College logo with graduation caps in the air

Iowa College Aid has enhanced the Course to College program to include five initiatives; College Application Campaign, FAFSA Completion, College Decision Day, Summer Transition and Early Awareness. Registration opens Aug. 1 for schools to participate.

Schools that register will receive free marketing materials, incentives and program support from Iowa College Aid. New this year is level of participation. Schools can choose between being a partner or participant school. Partner schools sign into an agreement to provide data back to Iowa College Aid around each initiative. This is in an effort to further develop Course to College programming and promote a college-going culture in school buildings, school districts, communities and the state. 

Back to top 

Student Reporting in Iowa new user training

Adults listening at workshop training

The Student Reporting in Iowa (SRI) team is excited to host its second annual new user training for all new administrators, counselors, business managers, and administrative staff that are new to the Student Reporting and Certified Enrollment, and/or Supplementary Weighting. This training will be on Wednesday, Sept. 5 from 9 a.m.-  3 p.m. in the Grimes Building, Room B100 (basement) in Des Moines.  Registration is required.

The training will be geared specifically to those new to these processes and will walk through detailed steps of getting data to the state from the Student Information System, understanding the validation process, approving data to the next step, and reviewing reports on SRI and Certified Enrollment.

Carla Schimelfenig, from the Iowa Department of Education, will discuss the larger picture and how various pieces of SRI data can be used in billing other districts, and how these data are used in other Department applications.

Back to top

Student Reporting in Iowa new staff contact information update

Hands typing on computer keyboard

Does your district have new staff people working with Student Reporting in Iowa (SRI) this fall?  If yes, log into spring SRI and update the district contact information so the correct people receive emails regarding SRI updates, deadlines, documentation, etc.  Hint:  If you want more than one person listed as a contact, just use a semi-colon to separate the email addresses.

If a school district has new staff working with the Student State ID system or Student Locator Framework, contact Becca Wemhoff at (515) 281-5471, or David Canaday at (515) 725-2252.

Back to top

Student Reporting in Iowa trainings

Group of adults at conference table, woman standing up speaking to group.

Mark your calendars for training opportunities related to Student Reporting in Iowa (SRI) 2018-19:

Aug. 13, 2 p.m.: State ID webinar overview of the State ID application, including best practices. Primary focus on resolving near matches.

Aug. 14, 9 a.m. or Aug. 15 at 1 p.m.: Student Locator Framework (SLF) Refresher webinar will re-familiarize and guide participants through the process of the SLF - Student Locator application.

Aug. 14, 10 a.m. or Aug. 16, 2 p.m.: SRI Updates, 2018-19 webinar will provide an overview of new, deleted and changed data elements. Open to public and nonpublic school staff.

Aug. 15, 1:30 p.m.:  Graduate Verification webinar covers how to report summer graduates for inclusion in the 2018 cohort. The application provides a complete list of district reported graduates, and all accountable graduates to district schools. Certification deadline is Aug. 24.

Visit the SRI website for a pre-recorded webinar about guidance for Non-Fall Supplementary Weighting application. Certification deadline is Aug. 24. 

Back to top

Successful Progression for Early Readers (ELI) funds available

Teacher reading to preschool children

This year the Iowa Legislature appropriated 7.8 million dollars for public school districts to implement Early Literacy Progression (Iowa Code Section 279.68) during the 2018-19 school year. The application is now available on the IowaGrants website. Districts are encouraged to complete this application as soon as possible, but no later than Oct. 31. Implementation guidance and instructions for accessing the application are found on the Iowa Department of Education’s website.

For questions, contact Meredith MacQuigg at (515) 490-5610 or 

Back to Top

Funding, licensing for 2018-19 Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program (SWVPP) classroom teachers

Two small groups of preschool teachers and preschool children playing on classroom carpet.

Per Iowa Administrative Code 16.9(5), districts with an appropriately licensed and endorsed teacher available by Oct. 1, may accept SWVPP funding for classrooms. All SWVPP teachers, including community partners, must have a valid teaching license and one of the following endorsements: #100 (Prekindergarten – Grade 3, including special education); #103 (Prekindergarten - kindergarten); #106 (Prekindergarten – Grade 3); #1001 (Birth – Grade 3, inclusive settings); or Class B conditional license in one of the listed endorsements. Endorsements #100 and #1001 are acceptable for SWVPP teachers who are responsible for early childhood special education instruction; otherwise, endorsements #262 and #103 or #106 are required.

If licensure requirements are not met prior to Oct. 1, districts may not be able to include the current year's children for certified enrollment, thereby affecting future funding. 

Contact the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners for specific endorsement requirements.

For information on SWVPP requirements, visit the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program web page or contact Jennifer Adkins at (515) 954-5652 or

Back to Top

Classroom rewards and school wellness

Van Allen PBIS rewards menu

school wellness policy guides efforts to establish an environment that promotes students’ health, well-being, and ability to learn (Sec.204 of Public Law 108-265). Policies are required to include standards for foods and beverages provided to students during the school day, including rewards.  Using food as a reward can have negative consequences:  

  • Encourages consumption of foods high in sugar.
  • Contradicts classroom lessons on nutrition.
  • Teaches youth to eat as a way to reward themselves.

Effective student rewards fit naturally into the context of the school community and can support a healthy environment. How can you get started? 

  • Find a teacher to be a healthy rewards champion.
  • Provide small prizes with donations or PTA/ PTO funds.
  • Generate a list of rewards involving recognition, privileges, and opportunities.
  • Seek input from students.

For ideas and resources, visit the School Wellness Policy webpage or contact Carrie Scheidel at (515) 281-4758 or

Van Allen PBIS Rewards Menu courtesy of Van Allen Elementary, Chariton Community School District.

Back to top

Sharing Tables in school meal programs

Photo of sharing table sign, and sharing table with food items placed on it.

When considering strategies to reduce waste in school meal programs, first focus on ways to increase consumption (i.e. offer vs. serve, adequate time to eat, variety of foods, etc.). If food waste is still a concern, consider a Sharing Table - a station where students may place items they choose not to eat and are made available for other students or utilized in the nurse’s office, afterschool activities, etc.

What can be placed on a Sharing Table? 
Packaged shelf-stable foods (crackers, cereal packs, etc.) or whole fruit.

What about milk, string cheese, or yogurt?
A variance needs to be submitted to the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals that includes a food safety plan.

For more information and access to resources, visit the Food Waste Reduction in School Meals webpage or contact Carrie Scheidel at (515) 281-4758 or

Back to Top

Legal Lessons

attorney nicole proesch

The sounds of summer days and summer nights are about to come to an end. One of my favorite things to do is sit on the porch as the sun goes down and the air starts to cool off from a hot summer day. I love to watch the sun set and feel the summer night air. The kids also enjoy playing outside on summer nights when it is cooler out. I am not quite ready for this to end and for school to start. Soon we will be back to homework and early bedtimes. For now I will savor the moment and enjoy what little bit of summer we have left. 

As we wind down our summer days and summer nights, it’s time to get ready for another school year.  School safety will be a big priority this year, so make sure to sign up your school safety personnel for the Emergency Operations Planning Workshop. Training dates are set in each AEA, and space is limited. 

Now, in this final summer edition of Legal Lessons, I bring to you yearly reminders on Top Five Registration Issues, Fee Reminders, Fee Waivers, and FERPA Notices. 

Contact Nicole Proesch for all Legal Lessons items at or 515-281-8661.

For questions regarding students with disabilities please contact Thomas Mayes at 515-242-5614 or

Back to top

news headlines

Iowa Department of Education
400 E 14th Street
Grimes State Office Building
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
Ph: 515-281-5294