November 2018 School Leader Update

school leader update - a monthly journal for iowa educators

November 2018

A worldly view of education

director ryan wise

It is human nature to look for the familiar in the unknown. When I experience something new, I often find my reactions starting with, “That reminds me of…” or “It’s similar to…” Accordingly, when I recently visited Taiwan and Hebei Province in China, I was struck by the many connections I found between education efforts in Iowa and the Chinese and Taiwanese education systems.

The first stop on my trip was the Global K-12 Education Research Association conference, graciously hosted by the Shijiazhuang Foreign Language Education School (which has sister school relationships with the West Des Moines, Clarke and Oskaloosa community school districts). The focus of the conference was students’ mental and physical health. I had the honor of giving remarks at the opening ceremony in front of an audience of several thousand students and educators (everything in China is on a grand scale). I was pleased to highlight several of the strides we’re making here in Iowa, including:

  • Developing high-quality physical education and health standards; ;
    •   Creating a statewide Children’s Mental Health System Board to improve access to services;
    •   Implementing social-emotional learning strategies to create a more holistic approach to education; and
    •   Empowering schools to spend federal and state funding to ensure students receive a well-rounded education, including physical education and access to school counselors.

STOP School Violence Prevention and Mental Health Training Program grant

Adult talking with teenager

The Iowa Department of Education was awarded a $494,000 grant through the U.S. Department of Justice’s STOP School Violence Prevention and Mental Health Training Program. The federal funding is intended to help schools prevent and respond to acts of violence, and respond to students who face mental health challenges.

Iowa’s project has three objectives:
• Train teachers and school employees to respond to threats of violence and to prevent violence in schools. Training content will align with school emergency plans.
• Train school staff, area education agency staff, and community members to respond to students who may be struggling with mental health or addiction.
• Educate students on preventing violence against themselves and others.

The application to participate will be open from Nov. 5 to Dec. 3. To learn more, register to attend the informational webinar on Nov. 5, at 11 a.m. The webinar will be recorded. For questions, contact Nancy Ankenhy- Hunt at 515-326-1031 or

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Emergency operations planning webinars

School hallway with lockers

The Iowa Department of Education is offering monthly webinars to establish high-quality emergency operations plans (EOPs) in school districts and individual schools.  The Department encourages participation in the webinars to complete high quality emergency operations plans by June 30.

The first webinar is scheduled for Oct. 23, at 10 a.m. Join by clicking on the following link. Each webinar is designed to provide step-by-step assistance in developing high quality EOPs. These webinars will be recorded and posted to the Department’s website along with future webinar dates.

The legislation requires high quality emergency operations plans for all public and accredited nonpublic schools, both district-wide and individual school buildings. The plans must include, but are not limited to, responses to active shooter scenarios and natural disasters. The legislation also requires an annual, emergency operations drill based on these plans in each individual building.For questions about these webinars and requirements, contact Rob Olsen at (515) 281-4743 or

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Diga Know? Iowa’s Digital Learning Plan Is Ready!

Students learning with mobile devices

Iowa’s Digital Learning Plan, designed by the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa’s Area Education Agencies and school districts, is designed to provide a vision of what digital learning is by bringing together the best practices from around the state.

The plan includes sections relevant to all educators and administrators:

• Leadership
• Teaching with Technology
• Engaging and Empowering Learning through Technology
• Assessment
• Infrastructure

The effective use of digital learning will help districts address Iowa Core’s Universal Constructs and what is often referred to as the 4Cs. The 4Cs, according to the Partnership for 21st Century Learning, include creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking. The Iowa Core’s Universal Constructs incorporate these four concepts and include flexibility, adaptability, productivity and accountability.

Iowa’s Digital Learning Plan includes real-life examples of digital learning and videos of teachers modeling instructional practices in their classrooms. Educators can draw upon the information to develop a picture of the desired state for their own classrooms or schools.

Visit the Iowa’s AEAs website to download the plan.

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Districts encouraged to offer Seal of Biliteracy

Graphic image of the State of Iowa Seal of Biliteracy

Senate File 475, which was adopted last year, now allows districts to offer the Seal of Biliteracy. The seal recognizes students who demonstrate proficiency in two or more world languages, one of which is English, by high school graduation. Schools are not required to offer the seal, but all schools are encouraged to participate. To participate, districts should complete this survey by Dec. 1. View complete guidance on offering the seal.


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Graduation guidance for students eligible for special education

High school graduate holding diploma and taking a selfie

The Iowa State Board of Education amended Iowa’s special education rules to conform with ESSA-required language related to graduation for students who receive special education services. Clarification about this change and implications for districts is contained in this handout

This change will not only require districts to consider changes in policies and procedures, but it will also require Individualized Education Plan (IEP) teams to adapt their planning with students and their families. The Iowa Department of Education is now working on the development of additional tools and resources to assist districts, teams and families with adjusting to these changes. These tools are scheduled to be shared by the start of second semester. 

For questions about this information, contact Kirsten Lane at

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4th Annual Emerging Educators Conference

Teacher of the Year speaking at podium to large group of emerging educators

The 4th Annual Emerging Educators Conference will be held on Friday, Feb. 1, at Simpson College in Indianola. This conference is intended to support pre-service and early career teachers along with the teacher leaders and administrators who support them. The goals of the conference are to:

  • Coach educators on innovative techniques, strategies, and methods
  • Advocate for powerful student learning and teacher instruction
  • Empower education leaders to lead teachers   

The 2018 and 2010 National Teachers of the Year, Mandy Manning and Sarah Brown Wessling, will both give keynote speeches and lead a breakout session. Only 150  participants will be able to attend, so register now to attend the 4th Annual Emerging Educators Conference. 

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Iowa Learning Online spring enrollment now open

Iowa Learning Online logo

Enrollment is open now for Iowa Learning Online’s (ILO) Spring Cohorts A & B. Cohort A is from Jan. 2 to May 7, and Cohort B is from Jan. 16 to May 17. Each term includes a three week trial/grace period so that students and schools can make sure it is a good match.


Is your school looking to start their own online program soon? Start the ball rolling this spring with Branch Out, where ILO provides the infrastructure and high school course, and the local school provides the teacher. Teachers gain valuable professional development and experience to create or improve their own local digital lessons and courses. For questions, contact Cale Roe, at 515-782-7680 or


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Year two social studies professional development for TLC Leaders

Social studies teacher teaching using a white board

Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) coaches or mentors are invited to attend a train-the-trainer session on Dec. 11-12, in West Des Moines. The workshop is designed to train secondary leaders who support social studies teachers and want to be trained on the statewide social studies professional development to support teachers in their district. Registration is limited to the first 50 participants. For questions, contact Stefanie Wager at (515) 725-7842 or

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Webinars to support implementation of Iowa’s social studies standards

Teacher teaching with white board

To support implementation of Iowa’s social studies standards, teachers can participate in a series of seven webinars. Each webinar targets a specific aspect of the new standards. Access more information about the 2018-19 Social Studies Webinar Learing Series. For questions, contact Stefanie Wager at (515) 725-7842 or

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Newsletter for world languages teachers

Teacher teaching students gathered around her. Open book on teacher's lap.

World languages teachers can now sign up to receive a quarterly newsletter. Each newsletter includes updates, news, teacher resources, and a section to announce professional development opportunities.  Visit the Iowa Department of Education world languages webpage for past issues and sign up for the quarterly newsletter. For questions, contact Stefanie Wager at (515) 725-7842 or


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Deadline for updating students in ELPA21 assessment system.

ELPA21 logo with curved bridge graphic

Now that certified enrollment is complete, district and non-public test coordinators need to ensure that the Iowa English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century (ELPA21) online assessment system contains updated records for all students in the school/district who are identified as English Learners by Thursday, Nov. 8. The Iowa Department of Education will no longer prepopulate the Test Information Delivery Engine (TIDE) with student information; this must be done at the local level.

For directions in using the English language learner extract process found in the state reporting options of your student information system, refer to the document New Process for Updating TIDE.  It is vital that student information is complete so that initial orders for paper testing materials are accurate.

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District billing information for ELPA21 assessments

ELPA21 logo

Again this year, the Iowa Department of Education has made available funds to help defray the costs of the English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century (ELPA21) summative assessment. A payment of $8 per Iowa English Learner has been provided directly to the ELPA21 consortium to buy down the initial cost of $30 per student. School districts should expect to receive a bill from AIR on Dec. 1 for the remaining cost of $22 per student. For additional cost information and payment schedule, visit: ELPA21 Billing Process & Schedule.

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Cybersecurity awareness poster contest

Row of students working at computers.

The State of Iowa's Office of the Chief Information Officer - Information Security Division and Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) are conducting a K-12 Cyber Security Awareness poster contest to encourage young people to use the Internet safely and securely. Twelve winners will be selected nationally and have their artwork included in a calendar which will be distributed throughout the country.

Eligibility: Students in kindergarten through 12th grade are eligible.

Submissions: Participants should submit a completed Poster Entry Form by Nov. 30, to Alison Radl at

Click for more information, entry form, and poster requirements.

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Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program teacher assistants

Teacher assistant at easel with preschool student.

The Iowa Department of Education has received questions from the field regarding qualifications of preschool teacher assistants. The type of preschool program and program standards determine the type of qualifications required for teacher assistants. The Qualifications for Preschool Teacher Assistants chart provides options for meeting state and federal requirements. Program administrators and classroom staff should refer to the program standards and criteria (as well as applicable local policy and procedures) to support decisions and requirements for new hires as well as those for existing preschool staff members.

For information about the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program for Four-Year-Old Children, contact Jennifer Adkins at (515) 954-5652 or , or Mary Breyfogle at (515) 326-1030 or

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Legal Lessons

attorney nicole proesch

Fall is in full swing. In just a few short weeks, it will be Thanksgiving. I wanted to take some time to reflect on the things I am thankful for this year. Life is not always easy. Day to day struggles can be really stressful. It isn’t always easy to be a parent, work fulltime, and have enough time to take care of yourself, but it is important to make yourself a priority so you are healthy and can live life to the fullest.

This year I am incredibly thankful for the people around me, supporting me – my wonderful husband, two fabulous kiddos, a loving family, great friends, outstanding co-workers, our school community, and the dedicated people I interact with in the education community. It really does take a village to raise children and we have been blessed this year with the support of our village, and I am forever grateful. This Thanksgiving I remind you to live in the moment, to enjoy every day, to let others know they are appreciated, and to be thankful for those around you. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Now, in preparation for a fabulous fall in this edition of Legal Lessons, I bring you: I Pledge Allegiance and Do school officials have to give Miranda warnings to students?

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

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

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