January 2019 School Leader Update

school leader update - a monthly journal for iowa educators

January 2019

Keeping an eye on the (impressive) big picture

director ryan wise

The year’s end provides us time to rest, reflect and plan for the year ahead. With so much going on in the day-to-bay bustle of the school year, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture.

As I reflect on all we do as an education system, I see a clear vision for Iowa: Every learner will be safe, healthy, engaged and prepared. Looking back, I’m encouraged by the strides we’ve made toward this vision:


  • Iowa’s education system renewed its focus on school safety.
  • Iowa received a new federal grant to help schools prevent and respond to acts of violence.

Computer Science is Elementary application opens Jan. 22

Computer Science with student touching a glass screen

As a new 21st century basic skill, computer science education starting in early grades is critical to ensure students are prepared for Iowa’s future workforce. The Computer Science is Elementary project will transform six high-poverty elementary schools into models of computer science instruction to create more opportunities for their students. Loess Hills Computer Programming School in Sioux City is the inspiration for this project.

The application window will be Jan. 22 – March 29. Each selected school will receive a $50,000 seed grant and have over a year to implement their proposal, launching no later than August 2020. The Iowa Department of Education and the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council will provide project management. After implementation, the six schools will serve as computer science education resources for educators across Iowa.

In order to apply, school districts, non-public school systems or stand-alone non-public schools must have a minimum of 40 percent of students in at least one elementary building who are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch. While the application must target one high-poverty school, other educators in a district or nonpublic school system may benefit by participating in professional development.

For more information, visit www.IowaSTEM.gov/cselementary.

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Secondary CTE Reporting Application webinars

Colleagues working together at table with computers

Webinars to assist school districts in the completion of the revised Secondary CTE Reporting Application are being set up throughout the month of January. Updates to the application have been made as a result of federal reporting changes recently announced by the US Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) for the FY19 Certified Annual Report (CAR).

Four webinars are being offered at 3 p.m. on the following dates:

  • Jan. 8
  • Jan. 14
  • Jan. 24
  • Jan. 28

Anyone who would like assistance in completing Courses in a Program should sign up to attend one of the Zoom meeting webinars by contacting Pat Thieben at (515) 281-4707 or  pat.thieben@iowa.gov.

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Student Reporting in Iowa deadline ahead

Calendar dates marked with large X's.

What better way to celebrate the new year than to start working on your winter Student Reporting in Iowa (SRI)?

Just a few reminders:

  • The system opens Jan. 7.
  • Due to some modifications to the application, the Iowa Department of Education will be hosting a Zoom session on Winter SRI, Wednesday, Jan. 9 at 2:00 pm. This session will be recorded and posted to our website.
  • All buildings are expected to submit data.
  • The primary focus of winter SRI is curriculum – courses offered and taught.
  • Most districts now have the option to do a Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF) collection rather than creating flat files and are encouraged to give it a try.
  • Certification deadline is January 31.

For questions or concerns on your accreditation report, contact an SRI consultant:

David Canaday, for non public schools, at (515) 725-2252 or david.canaday@iowa.gov
Margaret Hanson: (515) 281-3214 or margaret.hanson@iowa.gov
Gary Kirchhoff at (515) 281-6278 or gary.kirchhoff@iowa.gov
Rachel Kruse at (515) 281-4153 or rachel.kruse@iowa.gov

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New process for screening career information systems

Woman working at a computer

School districts will soon have the opportunity to work with additional career information systems (CIS) to meet State Board of Education requirements of the career and academic planning process.

The State Board adopted rules modifying 281 – Iowa Administrative Code (IAC) Chapter 49 at its scheduled meeting on Nov. 14. IAC Chapter 49 establishes the minimum components for CIS used by districts to support individual career and academic planning (ICAP) activities for students in grades 8 through 12. The modified rules include a process for reviewing supplemental CIS that provide appropriate activities that may be used to complete components of the ICAP.

Beginning July 1, a list of supplemental CIS, that provide appropriate activities, will be available on the Iowa Department of Education website. The list will identify components not met by the supplemental CIS (e.g., developmentally appropriate for students in grades 10 through 12 but not developmentally appropriate for students in grades 8 or 9.)

Districts will be required to choose a primary CIS that meets all state standards, however, supplemental CIS may be used for specific activities. Reporting supplemental activities will be achieved through the accreditation process. A school district that chooses to utilize a supplemental system will indicate how it meets state standards related to the career and academic planning process in its district career guidance plan.

More information on the requirements for career guidance, including a current list of CIS meeting State Board standards, is available on the Department’s website.

For questions or comments, contact Amy Vybiral at (515) 339-4520 or amy.vybiral@iowa.gov.

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Emergency operations planning webinars

School hallway with student lockers.

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

The next webinar is scheduled for Jan. 15 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. In addition to our regular content, we will be joined by a representative from the State Fire Marshal’s office.

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.

Questions about these webinars and requirements may be directed to rob.olsen@iowa.gov.

Future webinar dates:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 19
  • Tuesday, March 19
  • Tuesday, April 16
  • Tuesday, May 21

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Mathematics professional learning opportunity in January

Math teacher at white board drawing a diagram

Ever wonder where to start with the mathematics standards, instruction, and resources?

In January, three modules will be available through the AEA Learning Online system.

• Mathematics: Standards and Enacted Curriculum
• Mathematics: Instructional Practices
• Mathematics: Instructional Materials

Module 1: The Standards and Enacted Curriculum covers the Shifts in Mathematics - Focus, Coherence and Rigor

Module 2: The Instructional Practices covers Aligned Instruction, Guiding Principles and Effective Teaching Practices in Mathematics

Module 3: The Instructional Materials covers Why Alignment Matters, Tools and Resources for Mathematics

These modules have multiple uses and lead users through a guided exploration with opportunities for deeper dives.

Read more about Mathematic Standards & Aligned Instructional Practice. For questions, contact April Pforts at april.pforts@iowa.gov. 

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Graduation guidance for districts and IEP teams

Group of students tossing graduation caps into the air.

The Iowa State Board of Education amended Iowa’s special education rules to conform with the Every Student Succeeds Act required language related to graduation for students who receive special education services.  An overview of this change and implications for districts and special education teams can be found in the handout, Graduation Guidance For IEP Teams

The Iowa Department of Education will provide additional training, tools and resources through a webinar to assist districts, teams and families as they implement these changes. This webinar will be held on Jan. 22 from 1 – 3 p.m.  Registration for this webinar can be found here.

For questions about this information,  contact Kirsten Lane at kirstenlane3107@gmail.com.  

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Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress accessibility

ISASP logo

Districts are gearing up for spring administration of the new statewide assessment, Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP). The new generation of testing offers considerable flexibility and accessibility simply due to the online environment. In addition, the ISASP has universal and designated features as well as accommodations accessibility tools. Universal features embedded for use by all students can also support accessibility needs of learners who struggle with reading and writing.

The ISASP Accessibility and Accommodation Manual, which can guide administrators and teachers through accessibility supports, selection, and use, is now available. Explore ISASP resources here.

Accessibility staff, including teachers, can preview accessibility options within the TestNav component of ISASP supports. Descriptions and short videos can help in thinking about what tools are always available and which can be turned on per student need via the Personal Needs and Preferences profile (PNP).

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Schedule a school visit or workshop with the 2018 Iowa Teacher of the Year

Photo portrait of Aileen Sullivan, 2018 Iowa Teacher of the Yearf

Aileen Sullivan, 2018 Iowa Teacher of the Year, would love to be part of your mentoring and induction meetings in the new year.

As part of her year of service to Iowa, she is seeking opportunities to work with the best resources Iowa has for the future of education, our currently practicing teachers. She has served as a model and mentor teacher for many years, most recently as part of her district’s Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC)  program. Contact Aileen at aileen.sullivan@iowa.gov to schedule a complimentary visit or a workshop.

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Legal Lessons

attorney nicole proesch

A new year is finally here. It’s time for new beginnings and new resolutions. This year my resolution is short: “Be happy not because everything is good, but because you can see the good side of everything.” ~ Dale Partridge. It’s the simple things in life that make life good. Start off your new year right recognizing the simple things.

Now in this New Year’s edition of Legal Lessons I bring you information reminders on Expulsion and suspension Policies in Early Childhood Classrooms, and an updated School Health Legal Summary.  

Contact Nicole Proesch for all Legal Lessons items - nicole.proesch@iowa.gov or 515-281-8661.

For questions regarding students with disabilities, contact Thomas Mayes at 515-242-5614 or thomas.mayes@iowa.gov.

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