January Community College Leader Bulletin

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Community College Leader Bulletin

 Volume 8, Issue 6                                                                      January 2019


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

2018 Condition of Community Colleges report available

Condition cover

The Division released its Annual Condition of Iowa’s Community Colleges 2018 report at the State Board of Education meeting on January 16. The report provides a comprehensive overview, including academic year and trend data on enrollment, credit and noncredit programs, joint enrollment, adult education, online course delivery, student success, human resources, finances, and more. The report also includes success stories that illustrate how community colleges impact Iowans and the economy.

Report highlights include:

  • 131,144: The number of students enrolled in community college credit courses, down slightly from 132,694 the year before.
  • 51,001: The number of jointly enrolled students who earned college credit while in high school, up from 49,868 the year before. Jointly enrolled high school students account for 38.8 percent of total community college enrollees and 24.1 percent of total credits.
  • 11,060: The number of students enrolled in developmental education courses designed to help academically under-prepared students get ready for college-level coursework, down from 11,967 the year before.
  • 22.4%: The percent of community college enrollment represented by racial and ethnic minority groups, which represents a record high.
  • 16,747: The number of credit awards earned (associate degrees, certificates, and diplomas), down from 18,115 the previous year.
  • 26,005: The number of noncredit program awards, up from 19,261 the year before. The majority of these awards (69.2 percent) were industry-awarded credentials designed to lead to or enhance employment opportunities.

The full report, as well as disaggregated data tables and interactive data visualization tools, are available on the Department’s website. Contact Barbara Burrows, Chief, Bureau of Community Colleges, at 515-281-0319, or at barbara.burrows@iowa.gov, with comments or questions. 

Registration open for Perkins V webinar


The Iowa Department of Education (Department) will provide an informational webinar next month on the implementation of the federal Strengthening Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act for the 21st Century (known as Perkins V), which was signed into law this past July.   

As essential partners in the implementation of state and federal CTE legislation, the Department is requesting the participation of community college Perkins contacts and other interested community college administrators. The webinar will provide an overview of the state plan development process and changes with the new law.

Those interested in participating in the webinar can register for one of two times on Friday, February 15, 2019 -- from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. or 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Both webinars will be recorded and made available via the Department's website.

Please contact Pat Thieben, Administrative Consultant, Bureau of Career and Technical Education, at pat.thieben@iowa.gov, or at 515-281-4707, with questions or comments.

Work on universal e-transcript process underway


Iowa State University, the Board of Regents State of Iowa, the Iowa Department of Education, and the Iowa College Student Aid Commission are partnering to create a standardized electronic transcript system for all Iowa public secondary schools. Projected benefits of this exciting new initiative include:

  • Simplifying the transfer of records from one Iowa school district to another.
  • Eliminating the burden of manually sending transcripts for Iowa high schools.
  • Eliminating or significantly reducing admissions office manual processing of transcripts for Iowa’s public colleges and universities.
  • Providing significant cost savings for Iowa’s public school districts, colleges, and universities, as some vendors currently charge fees for postsecondary institutions to receive transcripts.
  • Automating the use of multiple measures, and thereby improving community college student placement, to enhance student success.

While a detailed implementation timeline is not yet finalized, there are plans for several high schools to pilot the system as early as 2020, with statewide implementation subsequently phased in. E-transcript steering committee representatives will be reaching out to Iowa public secondary schools to elicit feedback and advice. Because the transcript format must be compatible with all Iowa high schools, a special effort will be made to contact a wide variety of schools, including those transitioning toward a competency-based education/standards-based grading system.

Please contact Chris Russell, Education Program Consultant, at 515-725-2247, or at chris.russell@iowa.gov, for more information.

Department awarded AmeriCorps grant to serve adult learners


The Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service has awarded the Iowa Department of Education (Department) an AmeriCorps state grant to serve adults lacking basic skills. The program will focus on increasing the capacity and quality of adult education tutoring by providing additional resources to supplement the current offerings of adult literacy instruction, including, but not limited to, reading (phonetics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension), writing, health, mathematics, as well as financial, digital, and family literacy.

To lead this work, the Department hired Jayne Smith as the AmeriCorp program director. Jayne previously worked in adult education and literacy (AEL) as an education program consultant for the Department. In her new role, she will develop and oversee the implementation of the program, which includes the recruitment and training of 40 AmeriCorps members who will provide these additional support services at AEL program sites across the state. Jayne will work closely with the Iowa Literacy Council, a key partner in the project, as well as other organizations to identify community needs, leverage community support, and position the Iowa AmeriCorps Educate and Elevate Program as a strategy for solving community adult education attainment needs.

Please contact Jayne Smith, AmeriCorps Program Director, at 515-725-0046, or at jayne.smith@iowa.gov, for more information on the program.

Registration open for Adult Education and Literacy virtual conference

Virtual Conference

There is still time to register for the Iowa Adult Education and Literacy virtual conference to be held January 30-31.

Now in its third year, the virtual conference, called Expanding Possibilities, will highlight innovative initiatives and showcase best practices in adult education. The sessions are aimed at administrators and educators who help adults get the basic skills they need, including reading, writing, math, English language proficiency, and problem-solving to be productive workers, family members, and citizens. Professionals in adult and family literacy, and those who address workforce initiatives, are encouraged to attend.

Please contact Jayne Smith at 515-725-0046, or at jayne.smith@iowa.gov, for more information about the conference.

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Contract awarded for curricular approval workflow and database system


The Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation (Division) has awarded a contract to DIGARC for managing the state's career and technical education (CTE) program approval workflow and common course numbering management system. Currently, the state of Iowa and the 15 community colleges utilize CurrIQunet's software, META, for such purposes.

Per state requirements, the Division issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) this past summer to select a curricular system, as the current contract with CurrIQunet was set to expire. A CurricUNET software version has been in place in Iowa to house the community colleges' programs, courses, data reports, and historical changes since 2012.

DIGARC was one of four vendors considered for the new system contract. The company was selected through a formal review by a team that included staff from several community colleges involved in program approval and common course numbering processes. DIGARC has been in existence since 2001 and has almost 600 small and big colleges as curriculum clients. The company uses Curriculog software to meet colleges’ curriculum platform, product, and service needs. They also have separate catalog and section (course schedule) products available for colleges that are not a part of this contract.

Next steps include working on finalizing a contract with DIGARC, which will cover the next six years of curricular management for the state.  After a contract is finalized and signed, DIGARC will meet with the key users of the system at the Department  and each of Iowa's 15 community colleges to establish a curricular system conversion timeline for all stakeholders.  It is expected that the current system, CurriQunet META, will be in use through summer 2019. 

Please contact Chris Russell, Education Program Consultant, at 515-725-2247, or at chris.russell@iowa.gov, with any questions or comments.

Iowa Skilled Worker and Job Creation Fund reports released

skilled worker

The Division recently released fiscal year (FY) 2018 reports for the Pathways for Career Employment (PACE),Gap Tuition Assistance, Work-Based Learning Intermediary Network, Adult Education and Literacy Programs (AEL), and the Workforce Training and Economic Development Fund (WTED). These programs are funded through the Department’s allocation of the Iowa Skilled Worker and Job Creation Fund, which was created to support worker training and job creation efforts with funding from the state’s gaming industry receipts.

FY18 report highlights include the following:

  • A total of 1,077 applicants were approved for tuition assistance under the Gap Tuition Program with a statewide completion rate of 87.6 percent.
  • A total of 3,233 applicants were approved for tuition assistance under PACE. Of those, 432 PACE participants sought education in credit-bearing programs, 465 sought training in noncredit CTE programs, 1,071 earned National Career Readiness Certificates (NCRC), and 1,318 earned third-party credentials.
  • The Iowa Work-Based Learning Intermediary Network provided worksite core services to 110,393 educator and student participants.
  • Iowa’s AEL programs served 16,095 unique participants.
  • A total of 75,507 participants and 2,848 businesses benefited from programs funded through the WTED fund.

More information on the Iowa Skilled Worker and Job Creation Fund is available on the Department’s website. Contact Paula Nissen, Lead Education Consultant, at 515-418-8273, or at paula.nissen2@iowa.gov,with questions about any of these reports.

Contract with Emsi Career Coach extended

career coach

As of November 1, 2018, a new contract for Emsi Career Coach and Emsi Analyst subscriptions was entered into through a partnership with the community colleges, the Iowa Department of Education, and Iowa Workforce Development.

Career Coach resides on the Future Ready Iowa website and is designed to help Iowans find careers by providing the most current local data on wages, employment, job postings, and associated education and training. Emsi Analyst provides community colleges with access to a database containing economic and workforce data that can be customized by region. The data contained in this online tool includes details pertaining to industries, occupations, job postings, skills, programs, and demographics.

Hawkeye Community College will be the fiscal agent for the agreement, which allows unlimited access to the career and employment linkages available through Career Coach, and for each community college to have access to the Emsi Analyst database. This partnership was made possible through the use of the Workforce Training and Economic Development (WTED) Fund allocation. 

Please contact Paula Nissen, Lead Education Program Consultant, at 515-418-8273, or at paula.nissen2@iowa.gov, with any questions or comments.

Work begins on development of statewide secondary CTE standards

CTE fact sheet

Work is under way to develop, review, and adopt new state standards and benchmarks for career and technical education (CTE) program service areas, as required by HF 2392. This legislation, which is helping shape the future of CTE in Iowa, sets new requirements for the Iowa State Board of Education (Board) to adopt secondary CTE standards, moves from a voluntary to a mandatory CTE program approval process, and calls for school districts to incorporate the standards into their CTE programs. Similar to how the Iowa Core provides statewide academic standards in the areas of mathematics, literacy, science, social studies, and 21st century skills, the secondary CTE standards and benchmarks will set clear and consistent expectations for what students need to learn in high-quality secondary CTE programs across the state.

The Bureau of Career and Technical Education has contracted with Advancing Connections, Inc. to assist with the development and review of the standards and benchmarks for each of the six CTE program service areas: agriculture, food, and natural resources; applied science, technology, engineering, and manufacturing; information solutions; business, finance, marketing, and management; health science; and human services. Once this work is complete, the standards for each of the six service areas will be presented to the Board for final approval and adoption.

Contact Pat Thieben, Administrative Consultant, Bureau of Career and Technical Education, at 515-281-4707 or, at pat.thieben@iowa.gov, with any questions or comments.

Division welcomes new staff members


Dr. Jeff Fletcher (“Dr. Fletch”) joined the Division on January 2 as an education consultant focusing on Perkins accountability and monitoring related to career and technical education. Jeff spent 2018 in the private sector as a data analytics consultant and was an undergraduate programs coordinator at Iowa State University in the College of Human Sciences five years prior.

Jeff earned his B.A. in political science from Winona State University, M.P.A. from Iowa State University, and Ph.D. in education (specialization in community college leadership) from Iowa State University. Jeff has a demonstrated a passion for research, data analytics, business intelligence, and transforming data into actionable insights. 


Also new to the Division is Dr. Teresa García, who started on January 18 as an education consultant. She will be working on adult education and literacy (AEL) compliance monitoring and helping providers improve their programs. 

Teresa possesses a law degree from Creighton University and a Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Leadership from the University of Iowa. She also has decades of experience supporting students through programs such as TRIO Upward Bound, TRIO Student Support Services, and AEL, and has served Southeastern Community College as the Keokuk campus dean and, most recently, as the college's Executive Dean of Academic Affairs.


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 several positions over the next few months within the Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation (Division).

Over the next few weeks, the Division will be scheduling interviews with applicants for the CTE Consultant for Business and Information Solutions. In addition, positions for an Adult Education and Literacy Consultant, Community College Generalist, and CTE Consultant for Applied Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Manufacturing will be posted in the near future.

To learn more about these opportunities, please contact Jeremy Varner, Administrator, Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation, at jeremy.varner@iowa.gov, or at 515-281-8260.