Division redesign, social studies standards implementation, and more

lead tech learn

September 27, 2018    Vol. 9

Colorful toy people

Educator Quality integration

Division of Learning and Results redesigned; Educator Quality staff joins other bureaus

The Division of Learning and Results is undergoing a redesign as a result of the retirement of a bureau chief. 


According to David Tilly, division administrator and deputy director of the Department of Education, when the Educator Quality bureau chief Linda Carroll announced her retirement, Department leadership saw it as an opportunity to ensure that the work being done by those in her bureau became even more connected with the work done in other bureaus of the Division. Personnel assigned to Educator Quality were split among three others: School Improvement, Learner Strategies and Supports, and Standards and Curriculum. 


The Bureau of Standards and Curriculum has been redesigned to include educator preparation and support for the Iowa Professional Development Model (IPDM). The changes bring a new name: the Bureau of Leading, Teaching, Learning Services. 


Bureau Chief Erika Cook said, “It was the natural thing to do. We needed to reflect upon the title, goals, and drivers to make sure all work is represented,” she said. “This new name sets the stage for our increased collaboration.”


Cook hopes the redesign brings about more cohesiveness between practitioner preparation and professional growth and services for classroom educators. 


Tilly said that this is not a de-emphasis of the work of Educator Quality: “It is my hope that the work and the advocacy for excellence for Educator Quality is increased across the division. I hope we collectively see that work infused in all the major efforts across the Division.”


Consultant Matt Ludwig, who is now joining the newly-named bureau, also emphasized that the work not be overlooked. “Educator Quality is really important and, by eliminating the bureau, I don’t want to lose that emphasis in the system. That tells me that we have to step up to the plate to make sure educator quality doesn’t get layered below something else, that it still rises to the top,” he said. 


Destiny Eldridge, literacy consultant, said she’s “looking forward to being able to build out the work we already do to pull in more higher ed involvement. It’s an area where we haven’t had as many connections and now we will.” Also, she said the integration of the work with IPDM should help them structure professional learning in the most effective way.


For more information, contact Erika Cook at  erika.cook@iowa.gov  or (515) 240-3103 or David Tilly at david.tilly@iowa.gov or (515) 281-3333f or more information.

Students looking at globe

 Social Studies Standards

Professional learning encouraged for all social studies educators

The Social Studies professional learning cadre is hosting professional development sessions in each of the AEAs this year to assist teachers to fully implement the social studies standards that were adopted in 2017. 

According to the roll out plan, actions this year should include every social studies educator participating in an elementary or secondary session. “It’s our hope that all elementary teachers who teach social studies and all middle and high school social studies teachers will all attend a training,” said Stefanie Wager, social studies consultant. The training will be critical in helping teachers unpack the standards and assemble them into coherent instructional units, she said. 

Wager identified a number of useful tools that will be made available through the training. Among them are a rubric to evaluate the quality of social studies units and a checklist to use when in the process of a social studies curriculum revision, Wager said. 

Another important feature of the training will be introduction of two model units, one elementary and one secondary. “Of course, these model units are not ones that will be required of districts, but instead will serve as learning tools to assist participants in developing their own units of instruction,” Wager said. 

Feedback on the trainings will be will be sought after each session and Wager said she hopes the trainings will be very helpful to teachers. 

A district that Wager identified as being exemplary in their work of adoptions of the Social Studies standards is College Community. Matthew Alexander is the curriculum lead for Social Studies in the district. He said the work to implement the Social Studies standards actually began shortly after the release of the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework The College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards: for Social Studies State Standards: Guidance for Enhancing the Rigor of K-12 Civics, Economics, Geography, and History. Iowa’s social studies standards are based on this document, he said. “When that framework came out, we saw the future of social studies - a student-driven, inquiry approach. “Instead of learning facts, students will be using the information to answer questions that are teacher generated at the younger levels and student generated at the upper levels,” Alexander said. 

“We started by building the case for change and defining what our K-12 outcomes would look like as a graduate profile,” he said. He said the district has supported a lot of professional learning for teachers at grade level K-6 and through professional learning communities at the secondary schools. “Teachers may be teaching the same content they’ve taught in the past,” he said, “but they are doing it through an inquiry-based approach. This takes more time so we’re having to prioritize. Our lens is what will be important for students to know and be able to do 10 years from now. Our ultimate goal is to equip students with the skills they need to teach themselves what they need to know to be successful in life,” he said.

For more information, contact Stefanie Wager at stefanie.wager@iowa.gov or 515- 988-8556.

Student and teacher playing with large ball

Physical Education standards

Team begins work on identifying K-12 physical education standards

A team of physical education/health educators is convening this month to begin the work of reviewing, identifying, and recommending K-12 Physical Education/Health standards to the State Board of Education (BOEE). These standards, if adopted by the State Board, would be recommended and not required of schools and districts. 

Kris Kilibarda, science and health consultant, said this work became necessary because physical education teachers wanted guidance on redesigning their programs and identifying best practices in physical education.

The team is made up of 19 educators representing higher education, K-12 education, and community health organizations.  Chairing the team are two physical education/health educators: Brian Rhoads, curriculum lead for physical education and health for the West Des Moines Community School District, and Pam Richards, associate professor of exercise science at Central College in Pella. 

Rhoads said the starting point for the team will be the national Physical Education standards identified by Shape America, the national organization of physical education and health educators. “I think physical education has evolved over the last 15 years,” he said. “Shape America has put fourth some national standards with great aligning grade level outcomes,” he said. “So, in some ways, the work is already done for us, in my opinion. It’s really more about educating the state about these standards.” 

The group hopes to send its recommendation for standards to the BOEE in March 2019 for adoption.

For more information, contact Kris Kilibarda at kris.kilibarda@iowa.gov. or 515-322-7620.

Biliteracy seal

New designation rewards accomplishment

Biliteracy seal indicates graduate can communicate in two languages

The Department of Education is going to offer districts the option of recognizing students who are biliterate with a special seal on student transcripts. The intent is to celebrate students who work hard to be biliterate by the time they graduate from high school, said Erika Cook, chief of the Bureau of Leading, Teaching, Learning Services. “Being biliterate is essential in our 21st Century global economy. It not only enables students to communicate with people from other countries but also to better understand other cultures and ways of life, and, ultimately, develop a deeper understanding of themselves,“ she said.

The Department will be sending a survey to districts to determine which districts will want to add the seal to their transcripts later this month. In order to be able to use the seal, the district must identify a specific contact person who is the coordinate of a seal of biliteracy program. 

For more information, contact Stefanie Wager at stefanie.wager@iowa.gov or 515-988-8556.

Moving forward in computer science

Incentive fund awardees, new consultant, and new endorsements announced

The new Computer Science Professional Development Incentive Fund, along with new voluntary statewide Computer Science Standards, was established as part of a 2017 bill that encourages high-quality computer science instruction in every elementary, middle and high school. Schools will use the incentive fund to pay for professional learning or university coursework for teaching endorsements in computer science.

The incentive fund, announced in June, drew 29 applications representing 49 public school districts and nonpublic schools in urban, rural, and suburban parts of the state. One application represented a team of rural elementary, middle and high schools within Keystone Area Education Agency in northeast Iowa.

All 49 schools and districts will receive funding to pay for a range of teacher preparation, including courses for teaching endorsements, intensive training, conferences, and professional learning programs that prepare educators to provide high-quality instruction in computer science. Award recipients will report on their progress by the end of the 2018-19 school year.

To support this and other work in computer science, the Bureau of Leading, Teaching, Learning Services announces the addition of a computer science consultant, Wren Hoffman. Hoffman lives in Steamboat Rock and is formerly from Wheaton, IL. Prior experience includes being an instructional technology coordinator and computer science instructor for over 20 years. Hoffman joins the Department August 30. 

Also, the Board of Educational Examiners (BOEE) announced the introduction of a two new endorsements to teach computer science and computer programming: a K-8 and a 5-12 endorsement. The new endorsements will increase the options teachers have for adding a computer science endorsement to three. Previously, options were limited because the University of Northern Iowa is the only university to offer a computer science program. The new endorsement identifies concepts rather than courses that one must include in their study and require a methods course. In addition to being in a recognized computer science program or having a university or college verify that one has taken the courses teaching the right content, an individual can submit their transcript to the BOEE for review. 

According to Larry Bice, administrative consultant who was on the team that designed the new endorsement, “It’s important to have all teachers prepared with the background and knowledge necessary to do the best possible job in the classroom.”

For more information, contact Larry Bice at (515) 725-0101 or larry.bice@iowa.gov or Erika Cook, erika.cook@iowa.gov or (515) 240-3103.


Learning opportunities

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