August Community College Leader Bulletin

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Community College Leader Bulletin

Volume 8, Issue 2                                                                       August 2018                                       

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



Bye to 'remedial' courses, hello to new approach


When students enter college, they assume they will be taking college-credit courses right away. Unfortunately, many find themselves needing to take a step back because they are not prepared for college-level coursework.

In these cases, students often spend money on remedial, non-credit coursework that burns through their financial aid – all the while not earning college credit. The setback prompts many to drop out.

“I hadn’t had a math or writing course in seven years,” said Dakota Bang, a business and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) student who enrolled at North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) after being in the workforce and spending four years in the military.

Luckily for Bang, NIACC had successful programs in place to provide extra support and supplemental instruction to help him succeed in college-level coursework rather than requiring him to take non-credit, developmental (or remedial) courses to catch up.

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Director Wise releases statement on passage of law strengthening career and technical education


Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise released the following statement in response to the passage of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which was signed into law by President Trump on July 31. 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 pathways programs. Iowa receives nearly $12 million annually, divided between secondary education and community colleges.

“I’m pleased with the broad, bipartisan support for this important federal legislation. The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act aligns well with our statewide efforts to embed career guidance into students’ educational experiences, better prepare students for higher-level academic and technical training, and expand access to high-quality programs in both high school and community colleges.

"The legislation further supports existing state efforts to strengthen student engagement and advance quality career pathways. These efforts to integrate technical, academic, and employability skills in real-world learning experiences that align with regional economic demands are also in line with the Future Ready Iowa goal that calls for 70 percent of Iowans in the workforce to have education or training beyond high school by the year 2025.”

Raising expectations at the Iowa State Fair

State Fair

FFA students gain real-world agricultural experience

For FFA students from Muscatine, competing at the Iowa State Fair is more than just a hobby. The real-world experiences are helping them make informed decisions about college and careers – and not just for the kids who’ve grown up on farms.

In fact, the vast majority of the Muscatine students showing swine and sheep at the Iowa State Fair live in town. About 98 percent of Muscatine’s FFA chapter is urban.

“I’m a city girl,” said Muscatine senior Deja Carter. “I had no prior experience with livestock. I didn’t know what to do or what to expect.”

Formerly called Future Farmers of America, this career and technical student organization (CTSO) changed its name to the National FFA Organization to be inclusive of not only students interested in farming, but also other ag-related industries such as teaching, veterinary sciences, and engineering.

More than just clubs or extracurricular activities, CTSOs are integral to high-performing career and technical education (CTE) programs. Student organizations, such as FFA, enhance classroom learning through authentic real-world experiences and provide a leadership component to the education program. The Muscatine chapter is one of 235 FFA chapters throughout Iowa.

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Registration open for Iowa's first college and career readiness training program


Registration is now open for the Iowa College and Career Readiness Academy, a suite of Iowa-specific online courses for school counselors, educators, administrators, and other college access professionals. The first course will start on October 1.

The Academy is Iowa's first and only college and career readiness training program. It was developed by the Iowa College Student Aid Commission in partnership with the Iowa Department of Education, AEA Iowa, and the Iowa School Counselor Association (ISCA).

Each of the courses available through the Academy is specifically tailored for Iowa college access professionals to improve effectiveness in preparing all students for education and training beyond high school. Individuals can register as participants for no cost, or select an option to earn license renewal or graduate credit through Drake University, Morningside College, or Viterbo University.

“The Iowa School Counselor Association is pleased to support the new Iowa College and Career Readiness Academy,” announced ISCA in its formal endorsement of the Academy.

"These courses will provide tailored professional development for Iowa school counselors on college and career readiness and will be an invaluable tool in our work ensuring every student is prepared for the future."

More information about the Iowa College and Career Readiness Academy is available on the Iowa College Student Aid Commission's website.

Career opportunities within the division

join our team

The Iowa Department of Education is seeking talented individuals who are passionate about excellence in education to fill eight (8) positions over the next several months within the Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation (Division).

The Department is seeking applicants with experience in the areas of career and technical education (particularly with expertise in skilled trades, information technology, and health sciences), work-based learning and apprenticeships, data/accountability, policy analysis, and AmeriCorps. Currently, a position within the adult education and literacy team is posted at The other positions will be posted over the next several months.

To learn more about these opportunities, please reach out to Jeremy Varner, Administrator, Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation, at, or 515-281-8260.

Division staffing changes

Zoё Thornton, the Division's health sciences consultant, left the Department on August 8 to join the faculty at Iowa State University as a clinical assistant professor within the University's Department of Education.  

While at the Department,  Zoё worked with health science programs at the secondary and postsecondary levels across the state and helped to start the Health Science Simulation Network.  In addition, Zoё worked with community college accreditation, developmental education, community college transfer major initiatives, the Voluntary Framework of Accountability (VFA), and helped write grant applications for the Division.

The Department thanks Zoё for her service and wishes her the best as she teaches and mentors our next generation of community college leaders. 

More Future Ready Iowa regional summits announced

Registration is now open to attend Future Ready Iowa regional summits across the state.

The day-long summits are scheduled for late September through November in Ames, Atlantic, Burlington, Cedar Falls/Waterloo, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Centerville, Creston, Davenport, Denison, Des Moines, Elkader, Fort Dodge, Muscatine, Pella, Sheffield, Sioux City, and Spencer. Dates, locations, and registration information are available on the Future Ready Iowa website.

Future Ready Iowa was created to prepare and connect more Iowans with rewarding careers and good-paying jobs with Iowa employers. The initiative has a goal of 70 percent of Iowa’s workforce having education or training beyond high school by 2025.

The regional summits represent an opportunity for local and regional partners to come together and discuss potential solutions based on their area workforce needs and challenges.