December 2018 School Leader Update

school leader update - a monthly journal for iowa educators

December 2018

The next mile(stone) on Iowa's roadway to education success

director ryan wise

We all share a commitment to meeting the needs of Iowa’s students. Our education system has worked together over time to put in place the right roadmap to prepare all students for success in high school and beyond.

School accountability and support represent one part of this roadmap. I’m thankful we now have a federal K-12 education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, that gives ownership of accountability and support systems back to states and local school districts. This means no more federally prescribed targets, sanctions and turnaround models for schools. Rather, Iowa’s system for accountability and support under ESSA was developed in a collaborative process, fits the state’s context and focuses attention and support where schools need it most. 

Having received federal approval of the state’s ESSA plan in May, the Iowa Department of Education is now preparing to meet two other ESSA requirements in December:

  • Identify schools for support and improvement (Comprehensive and Targeted) every three years based on their performance on a set of measures;
  • Publish report cards reflecting performance of the state, schools and school districts on these measures.

In December, we will release the school identifications, or determinations, as well as a new online report card called the Iowa School Performance Profiles.

These requirements reflect a continued focus on school accountability and equity for all students – in other words, ensuring support for schools that need it most so that students have the same opportunities for success as those in other schools.

Conference: Making new teachers more effective.

Young teacher with elementary age student looking at schoolwork.

Registration is under way for the fourth annual Emerging Educators Conference to be held Feb. 1 in Indianola, just south of Des Moines.

Titled “New Year’s Resolution for Strong Teaching Connections,” the conference is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Education, along with the Iowa State Education Association, Simpson College and its Department of Teacher Education.

The conference is for new educators (in their first to third year of teaching), teacher leaders and administrators who work closely with new teachers, college-level education majors in their junior or senior year and their professors.

The focus for this year is on developing strong teaching connections involving teachers, students, and administrators.

Early bird registration is $20, which runs through Dec. 21, includes all materials, lunch, a snack and T-shirt. After that, registration is $25, closing on Jan. 4.

Hotel accommodations can be found at Country Inn & Suites (515) 962-5777. The cost is $95 plus tax.

For more information, contact Shelly Vroegh, 2017 Iowa Teacher of the Year, at, Aileen Sullivan, 2018 Iowa Teacher of the Year, at, or Isbelia Arzola, Iowa Department of Education Consultant, at

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Revising iEvaluate 1.2

Row of adults taking notes

A task team from the Leadership Training and Design Team is engaged in revising the current iEvaluate 1.2 course which is required for administrators prepared outside of Iowa or new to Iowa. Current school administrators and other evaluators seeking re-licensure may also participate in this class. The course is offered online for two-renewal credits through AEA Learning Online and it outlines the Iowa evaluation system - standards, observation, evidence, goal-setting, coaching, feedback, and professional growth.

The task team is going through a revision process which includes reviewing all course objectives, resources and assignments while asking current administrators to vet components of the revised course activities and assignments. As a result of this process, an updated and differentiated course will be unveiled. Please watch for future communication about opportunities to provide feedback as well as future rollout plans.

For questions or ideas to share with the team, contact Matt Ludwig at (515) 326-5333 or

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Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action application

Group of mature adults sitting at table conversing

The Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action application will open in early December and the deadline will be Dec. 31. Districts will submit a report of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) standards and accomplishments (Iowa Code 19B.11). Last year's data will be editable. This data is used to compile an annual report of accomplishments and programs of districts, Area Education Agencies, and community colleges, along with Iowa Department of Education information. For assistance, contact Shelly Neese at 515-281-3111 or

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Changes in Perkins reporting - Secondary Career and Technical Education Reporting Application.

Three adults looking at information on a laptop

The US Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE), has announced that next year’s (FY19) Certified Annual Report (CAR) will no longer include Technical Skill Proficiency, formerly a required indicator of performance under Perkins IV. This change is being implemented even as Iowa transitions towards the development of a new state plan under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, commonly known as Perkins V.

Since spring 2019 is considered part of the FY19 reporting year, the Iowa Department of Education will not need districts to collect information on Technical Skill Proficiency for each Career and Technical Education (CTE) student. That means that starting now, CTE teachers are no longer required to keep track of the number of students who take technical assessments, nor which of those students demonstrate proficiency by passing the assessments.

The Department is currently in the process of removing this reporting requirement from the Secondary CTE Reporting Application. For questions or comments, contact Pat Thieben at 515-281-4707 or

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Use of federal funds to purchase food

Aerial photo of group of adults meeting at conference table with breakfast food during the meeting.

Should federal funds be used to purchase food, beverages, or snacks for a meeting, reception, networking session, or professional development activity?

Generally, there is a very high burden of proof to show that paying for food, beverages, or snacks with federal funds is necessary to meet the goals and objectives of a federal grant. When a grantee is hosting a meeting, the grantee should structure the agenda for the meeting so there is time for participants to purchase their own food, beverages, and snacks. While determinations are made on a case-by-case basis, those circumstances where food, beverages, or snacks would be permissible are very rare. Federal grantees, therefore, will have to make a compelling case that the unique circumstances they have identified would justify these costs as reasonable and necessary.

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2018-19 CASA (Consolidated Accountability and Support Application) requirements

Person writing dates on calendar

Below is an outline of submissions due prior to the end of the calendar year. For questions, contact Meredith MacQuigg at (515) 494-5610 or

Due Dec. 15:

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Student Reporting in Iowa (SRI) dates to remember

man at computer with sticky notes all over computer monitor

Dec. 3 – Dropout Verification opens

All public districts and nonpublic buildings who report through SRI which house grades 9-12 must certify this report.

Dec. 3 – Winter SRI open for testing

Dec. 14 – Dropout Verification certification deadline

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Gold Star List for Student Reporting in Iowa

Graphic of a gold star

The Student Reporting in Iowa (SRI) team would like to give special recognition to those public districts and nonpublic buildings for their hard work during the Certified Enrollment process.

Public school district criteria:

  1. SRI test data showing in certified enrollment on Sept. 26 at 4 p.m
  2. SRI data showing in certified enrollment on Oct. 8 at 4 p.m
  3. Certified Enrollment certified on Oct. 15

Nonpublic school criteria:

  1. Test data error free in SRI, no Level 2 validation errors, on Sept. 26 at 4 p.m
  2. Data error free in SRI, no Level 2 validation errors on Oct. 8 at 4 p.m
  3. Student Reporting in Iowa certified on Oct. 15

Find out if you made the 2018_Gold_Star_List!  

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Emergency Operations Planning webinars

Students and staff gathered outside school building. Firemen exiting the building.

The Iowa Department of Education is continuing to offer monthly webinars to establish high-quality emergency operations plans (EOP) in school districts and individual schools. Participation in the webinars is encouraged in order to complete high quality emergency operations plans by June 30.

The next webinar is scheduled for Dec. 18 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 not limited to) responses to active shooter scenarios and natural disasters. The legislation also requires an emergency operations drill based on these plans in each individual building annually.

For questions about these webinars and requirements, contact Rob Olsen at 9515) 281-4743 or

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Accessible Education Materials (AEM) Connector Newsletter

National Center on Accessible Educational Materials logo

State Educational Technology Directors Association leaders (SETDA) recently set accessibility as one of their top priorities. For a quick view quarterly update, take a peek at the AEM Connector Newsletter from the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials. The AEM Connector is intended for administrators, teachers, parents and others interested in ensuring students have the learning materials they need for participation in education.

The AEM Connector highlights resources, products, and services from the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials and from their partners and colleagues in the field. Past newsletters are archived.

If you send a newsletter to families in your district, check out the item in the Fall AEM Connector on Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) to see if your mass mailing tool can be accessed by all your stakeholders. Subscribe today- it’s free!

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Mathematics: FAQ

graphic of math coherence map

How do we figure out where a student’s gaps are and then what do we do?

Student Achievement Partners has a Tool for that! The Coherence Map can be used to back-map, to identify gaps in a student's knowledge by tracing a standard back through its logical pre-requisites. It contains aligned tasks, items, and assessments to use with individual students and small and large groups.

Tool: Coherence MAP

Learn: How to use the Coherence MAP

Learning Trajectories can be used to forward-map to accelerate learning along a research-based pathway. A tool for early childhood educators to learn about how children think and learn about mathematics and how to teach mathematics to young children (birth to age 8). The website provides teachers with access to information about Learning Trajectories for math.

Tool: Learning Trajectories

Learn: How to use the Learning Trajectories

Mathematic Standards and Aligned Instructional Practice.  For questions, contact April Pforts at (515) 314-6243 or

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Standards-based writing professional learning opportunities

Teachers meeting at a conference table with computers and papers on table.

Thinking, speaking, and reading comprehension are interconnected and reinforced through good writing instruction. The shifts in Iowa’s Academic Standards in English Language Arts/Literacy require that formal writing instruction (explicit lessons in grammar, sentence structure, and essay-writing) take place in Iowa’s classrooms.

The Statewide Literacy Leadership Team collaborated to build professional learning content, which is anchored in the writing standards and will support educators to make strategic moves in their instructional practice to enhance the development of student writing skills. The content is timely, as in the spring of 2019, the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP) will replace the Iowa Assessments as the main accountability test for all students. A notable change between the ISASP and Iowa Assessments is that it includes a writing component. Watch for additional information from the Iowa Department of Education and your local Area Education Agency.

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What's new with concussions?

Cover of concussion management document showing young male athlete jumping in air kicking soccer ball.

School districts and schools are looking for more information regarding Return to Learn and Return to Play guidance to implement House File 2442 or the proposed Iowa Administrative Code 641.54.1 (280).

The Iowa Department of Education and Iowa Department of Public Health have collaborated to provide a recorded webinar that outlines changes in the law and best practices. Districts or schools can also access the 2017-18 Iowa Concussion Management Guidelines for Iowa Schools and REAP (Reduce, Educate, Accommodate, Pace) manual when establishing their concussion teams.

A great resource for elementary age students regarding concussion education is the Healthy Habit All-Stars that provides a short classroom video and free resources on concussion management. For questions, contact Melissa Walker, Iowa Department of Education School Nurse Consultant, at (515) 281-5327 or, and Maggie Ferguson, Iowa Department of Public Health Brain Injury Program Manager, at (515)281-8465 or

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Cybersecurity services launched at Iowa Communications Network

Iowa Communicatdions Network logo

As cybersecurity threats continue to rise, Iowa Communications Network (ICN) has new security services to help with the ever growing cybersecurity demand.

Incident Response & Forensic Investigation (immediate response): Partnering with Pratum, located in Ankeny, IA, this service includes security monitoring, incident response, and digital forensic analysis. Key components include: who should be contacted, which parties to involve, and the best practices for managing the circumstances.

Network Assessment (preventive) – Partnering with root9B, located in Colorado Springs, CO, this security service will help customers evaluate the effectiveness of their current security procedures. Following the evaluation, root9B will provide recommendations to enhance current processes and plans.

Penetration Testing (preventive) – Partnering with root9B, this security service scans your IT systems and applications to provide a snapshot of current vulnerabilities.

Contact ICN at for more information.

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Support needed for students impacted by California wildfires

Firemen putting out fire in the woods

Many students and families have been impacted by wildfires in California. The California Department of Education (CDE) has provided the following information for those who are able to offer much needed support.


Financial donations are urgently needed right now. Individuals or organizations can visit to donate now. The Butte County Office of Education created this Schools Fire Relief Fund to provide a one-stop location where individuals or organizations can provide support. At this link, donors can either specify a specific district or use (such as textbooks, clothes, etc.) for the funds, or make an open donation.

Do not send items (such as clothes, toys, backpacks, etc.) and encourage others not to send these items, unless they are specifically requested.

We encourage you to share this information through the networks in your states.


FEMA and the CDE are currently working to locate any available portables. California has a desperate need for portables and has had difficulty locating enough. If any states or local district within your state have additional portables that could be used in California, contact Juan Mireles, Director of CDE School Facilities and Transportation Division, at (916) 322-2481 or

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Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program compulsory attendance

Attendance Works logo

According to research accumulated by Attendance Works and the Child & Family Policy Center, regular attendance in preschool impacts kindergarten readiness, literacy skills, and future attendance patterns.

A four-year-old child enrolled in the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program (SWVPP) is of compulsory attendance age unless the child’s parent submits written notice to the district of the intent to remove the child from the program (Iowa Code 299.1A). This allows districts to remove children not regularly attending from the program’s enrollment roster. It is also intended to offer districts language to promote and communicate an expectation of consistent attendance in the preschool program.

Districts are encouraged to clearly communicate the SWVPP program schedule and expectations for attendance at the time of registration and enrollment. Inform families of local attendance policies, including potential consequences for unexcused absences. Record attendance and include this information in the district's state reporting.

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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Expansion of the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program for Four-Year-Old Children

Two preschool children glueing shapes together

School districts not currently participating in the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program (SWVPP) may submit an application to begin a preschool program in 2019-20. The application is due April 5. Districts are encouraged to review the FAQs to support application development.

This non-competitive application requires districts to fund the preschool program using other funding sources for year one in 2019-20. One funding option for SWVPP startup costs is the flexibility account. Districts may move unexpended, unobligated funds remaining at the end of the previous fiscal year from certain sources to a flexibility account within the general fund. Districts, through a board resolution including specific stipulations, described in 298A.2, can then expend these funds for SWVPP startup costs. Guidance pertaining to the flexibility account is posted on the General Fund web page. In year two, districts receive state aid based on the number of eligible four-year-old children served in year one.

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

It’s the holiday season and as per tradition in our house we put up decorations after Halloween. That may seem early to some but in our house we are always open to some holiday cheer. Additionally, we are usually so busy in the month of November and we travel over thanksgiving so it is hard to get decorations out at all if we don’t put them up early. So, I would like to think that we are just overachievers and we are trying to get our homework done ahead of time so we can enjoy the season a little longer. 

Now, in preparation for this holiday season in this edition of Legal Lessons, I bring you some old but good guidance for this time of year: Important Reminders on Religious Holiday Celebrations in Public Schools, New Rules Adopted and Noticed by the State Board, and a New Proposed Title IX Rule from the U.S. Department of Education that Provides Clarity for Schools, Support for Survivors, and Due Process Rights for All.

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