2019 March School Leader Update

school leader update - a monthly journal for iowa educators

March 2019

A new instructional framework for Iowa

director ryan wise

Iowa has the most robust approach to teacher leadership in the nation. No other state has invested more energy and resources than we have with the Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) system. More than 10,000 teachers serve in compensated and defined leadership roles.

Empowering teachers to coach and mentor their colleagues and to share research-based best practices has built tremendous capacity in our schools. We’ve seen a seismic cultural shift from teaching as an isolated profession to one rooted in collaboration.

As the nature of the teaching profession has changed and the needs of our students have grown, the time is right for schools to develop a common language on what excellent teaching looks like. An instructional framework, also known as an instructional rubric or learning progression, creates a common instructional language and vision for quality teaching across an entire school district. Schools that share a common definition of effective teaching are well-positioned to maximize the impact of teacher leaders.

Legal Lessons

attorney nicole proesch

Now in this Edition I bring you Snow Days Part II,  Student Records and Child Abuse Investigations,

Smoking & Vaping on School Grounds, and U.S. Department of Education Acts on School Safety Report Recommendation to Improve Understanding of Student Privacy Law.

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

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

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Getting teachers ready for the new spring test

Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress

A new state assessment, the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress, will debut during the testing period this spring.

To get all educators ready for the test, a checklist has been developed.

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2019 Conditions for Learning survey

Teacher and students looking at globe

The Conditions for Learning survey for grades 3-12 will take place from April 3 - May 31.The Iowa Department of Education is hosting two online information sessions to provide schools with details regarding the upcoming administration. Click the link on either date below to register.

Principals will receive a copy of the survey and an information packet in early March, and individual building links to the survey will be sent the week of March 18.

For questions regarding the Conditions for Learning survey administration, contact Courtney Clement at (515) 401-4989 or courtney.clement@iowa.gov

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Professional learning modules on English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics Standards available online

Group of teachers at conference table with computers

Free professional learning modules on the English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics Standards are now available through the AEA Learning Online System:

  • Standards and Enacted Curriculum - Module 1
  • Instructional Practices - Module 2
  • Instructional Materials - Module 3

The modules may also be taken as part of a self-paced course for license renewal credit (fee required). Search for the modules using these directions: English Language Arts/Literacy or Mathematics.

For questions, contact April Pforts (Mathematics) at (515) 314-6243 or april.pforts@iowa.gov, or Deborah Cleveland (AEA Learning Online) at dcleveland@aealearningonline.org.

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Emergency Operations Plan regional tabletop exercise trainings

Compass points to plan B

The tabletop exercise trainings will be using a train the trainer model for school districts to use in their districts and individual school buildings to review your Emergency Operations Plan. There are five locations for the Emergency Operations Planning Tabletop Exercise Trainings. The locations are listed below. Register for the regional training closest to you by going to the Emergency Operations Planning website and scrolling down under the training section to click on the date and location of the training you would like to attend.

March 6 - Storm Lake – National Guard Armory

March 19 - Cedar Falls - Located at Central Rivers AEA

March 21 - Atlantic - Located at Atlantic HS media center

April 10 – Ottumwa Area – Location TBD

April 11 – Des Moines – Located at Heartland AEA

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Emergency Operations Planning webinars

Emergency exit sign

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

Our next webinar is scheduled for March 19 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 Iowa Department of Education website.

The legislation requires high-quality EOPs 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 (515) 281-4743 or rob.olsen@iowa.gov.

Future webinar dates: Tuesday, April 16

                                    Tuesday, May 21

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Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE)


In addition to the Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) Annual Report FY2018 listed under 2019 Legislative Reports, additional information has been added and is available on the Iowa Department of Education website under the Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) website. Locate this new information by clicking on School Facilities, then click on Funding, and lastly click on the SAVE link.

Under SAVE Annual Report, you will find FY18 SAVE Report District Data, which is a summary of the district-by-district data used to compile the annual report to the legislature, which is from the districts' Certified Annual Report (CAR) and Facilities, Elections, and Sales Tax Report submissions.

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Facilities data reporting

Architects, construction workers, planners, at conference table.

In the state of Iowa, there are over 3,600 school buildings valued over $14 billion.  The Facilities Data Reporting application is designed to collect data about school sites, buildings, and additions annually. Millions of dollars are used to renovate and construct new school facilities every year. This report is currently the best source of information for school facilities in Iowa.

The facility data information allows organizations to collect and manage data; guides decision-making utility, efficiency, safety, and adequacy; informs decisions relating to funding, design, renovation, improvements, and prioritize resources; supports drafting of legislation, policy-making, research and dissemination; and provides high-quality and timely data used to compare facilities. Facilities data can also be linked with other education systems to better understand the effects of school environment on learning.

This report is not currently mandated, but districts are encouraged to upload the information into the Facilities Data Report on the portal.

The application is available on the Department of Education Portal site. Once logged into the portal, click on Facilities Data Reporting, under the HELP drop down button, there is an FAQ as well as instructions.

For questions about the Facilities Data Report, contact Rob Olsen at (515) 281-4743 or rob.olsen@iowa.gov.

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Iowa Special Education Guidance System development under way

Hanging sign that says coming soon

Last spring, the Special Education Procedures Governance Council was established to create a sustainable governance and work structure among Iowa’s Area Education Agencies, the Iowa Department of Education, and local school districts for the development of special education procedural guidance.

The work has begun to develop an online procedural guidance system that will be aligned with the Iowa Evaluation and Eligibility Standards, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and the Iowa Administrative Rules of Special Education. The online guidance system will include procedures, guidance, documentation, and additional resources which will be available to users on multiple platforms and be written in formats that communicate effectively with all stakeholder groups.

Periodic updates on the development of the Iowa Special Education Guidance System will be available on IowaIDEAinfo.org.

For more information, contact Melissa Tandy at (319) 560-4002 or mtandy@centralriversaea.org

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Computer built-in accessibility

Person with headphones using braille and computer.

Accessibility features are increasingly robust built-in tools in computer operating systems (OS).  With each new software release, these tools become easier to access and use whether you are an individual with special motor, language, vision or hearing needs or a mainstream user who would like a bigger font, or just want to use voice commands to write or navigate the device.

Remarkable additions to this diversification: Apple products and Chromebooks running Android OS have switch control features for one- or two-switch access; Microsoft has built-in support for eye gaze access.

Students find and use the features they prefer on personal devices and are enthusiastic explorers finding those tools on computers. Accessibility tools help students be active participants in instruction and assessment.

But for kids, perhaps the biggest stride is an accessible gaming controller as demonstrated in Microsoft’s Superbowl 2019 commercial We All Win. For differently-abled kids, it’s a game-changer!

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Registration open for the Iowa Work-Based Learning Coordinators Conference


Registration is now open for the Iowa Work-Based Learning Coordinators Conference scheduled for April 2-3, at the Des Moines Airport Holiday Inn. This collaborative learning and networking event will feature national college and career readiness speaker, Brooks Harper, with his keynote “Why Should We Hire Your Students?”

New this year is content specifically focused on special education work experiences. The conference team has also built in more discussion and networking time in addition to the content-rich sessions covering such topics as work-based learning teaching certifications, OSHA, child labor, insurance information, training plan development, partnering with business and industry, and more.

More information about the conference, including the registration link, is available on the conference event page. Participants who register on or before March 1 will receive $20 off the conference registration fee.

For questions, contact Kelli Diemer at (515) 281-3615 or kelli.diemer@iowa.gov.

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Registration open for 2019 Iowa College and Career Academy courses

Iowa College and Career Readiness Academy

Registration is now open for spring 2019 courses through the Iowa College and Career Readiness Academy. These facilitated online course are perfect for administrators, school counselors, and other college access professionals. Participants can earn professional certification as well as license renewal or graduate credit. The following courses will begin on March 11 and run through early May:

101: Foundations of College & Career Readiness in Iowa

201: Creating Iowa's College & Career Readiness Culture

301: Systems & Optimization

401: Planning and the School Counselor's Role in ICAP Advising

The Academy was developed by the Iowa College Student Aid Commission in partnership with the Iowa Department of Education and AEA Iowa, and has been endorsed by the Iowa School Counselor Association (ISCA). More information about the Academy and additional course offerings is available on the Iowa College Student Aid Commission’s website.

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Scholarships for careers in advanced manufacturing

Elevate manufacturing logo

Elevate Advanced Manufacturing is giving away 15 $500 scholarships to high school seniors who are attending an Iowa community college in the fall for a career in advanced manufacturing. Examples of eligible training programs include welding, computer numerically controlled (CNC) machining, industrial automation, industrial maintenance, robotics, tool and die, and transportation and logistics.                                                              Each community college will be recognized. Click the link to apply.

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Innovative cybersecurity competition for Iowa high school and college students

Female worker using tablet in cybersecurity room

Iowa is partnering with SANS to offer the Girls Go CyberStart competition again this year.  Iowa first participated in CyberStart in 2017 and Girls Go CyberStart just one year later. As a result, several Iowa students received scholarships for advanced education in cybersecurity and other prizes.

Girls Go CyberStart  is a free, forward-thinking cybersecurity skills program designed to educate and inspire high school girls to discover the opportunities and rewards offered by a career in cybersecurity.

Both male and female college students have the opportunity to play CyberStart this year. The college program, called Cyber FastTrack, is an avenue to scholarships for advanced cybersecurity educations as well as internships and jobs in the field.

For more information, visit girlsgocyberstart.org and cyber-fasttrack.org. To see the types of challenges the students will face in the games, visit https://go.joincyberstart.com/.

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Home-schooling families may directly enroll in Iowa Learning Online

Student working on laptop

Home-schooling families may now directly enroll in Iowa Learning Online (ILO) courses with ILO HOME.  Any Iowa resident family participating in full or partial Independent Private Instruction, Competent Private Instruction, or Private Instruction may choose to enroll in ILO courses.  Families participating in dual-enrollment have options. Option one is to enroll the student directly in an ILO course as part of their home-school instruction and assume the tuition costs. Option two is to request that the local district enroll the student in an ILO course, assume the tuition costs and provide district credit (the local district has the right to decline). Contact the ILO registrar at registrar@iowalearningonline.org to enroll in ILO courses.

ILO is also offering a service to help schools take the first step to offering their own online service to meet local district needs. With Branch Out, we provide the infrastructure and high school courses, and the local school provides the teacher.

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New preschool support documents posted to Iowa Department of Education website

Wooden blocks that spell preschool

Two new support documents for preschool have recently been posted to the Early Childhood Standards web page on the Iowa Department of Education website.

The Alignment of IELS to GOLD shows the alignment between the Iowa Early Learning Standards (IELS) and MyTeachingStrategies GOLD. 

A crosswalk between the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS), the Iowa Quality Preschool Program Standards (IQPPS), and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Accreditation Standards and Assessment Items from 2015, upon which the revision of the IQPPS (2017) were based.  It also includes the most current NAEYC Accreditation Standards and Assessment Items (2018).  This document shows how the program standards align in providing a quality preschool program for children.

For more information, contact Mary Breyfogle at (515) 326-1030 or mary.breyfogle@iowa.gov,  or Tom Rendon with the Iowa Head Start Collaboration Office at (515) 326-5389 or tom.rendon@iowa.gov.

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Expansion of the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program for four-year-old children

Preschool students at table with teacher

A reminder to school districts not currently participating in the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program (SWVPP):  The application is due April 5. Districts interested in beginning a SWVPP 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 2019-2020. 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 jennifer.adkins@iowa.gov, or Mary Breyfogle at (515) 326-1030 or mary.breyfogle@iowa.gov.

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School Wellness Conference registration now open

School Wellness Conference logo

The school environment plays a fundamental role in shaping lifelong healthy behaviors and can have a powerful influence on student eating and physical activity habits.  

The Iowa Department of Education invites schools from across the state to attend the School Wellness Conference on Thursday, March 28, from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m, at Hope Lutheran Church in West Des Moines. Sessions will highlight successful school wellness initiatives in Iowa schools, the impact of wellness on academic success, strategies to engage key stakeholders, and resources to support school wellness implementation. 

The conference is intended for school administrators, educators, physical education teachers, school nutrition professionals, school nurses, wellness team members, school board members and community advocates. There is no cost to attend and mileage and sub-pay reimbursement will be made available. Space is limited. 

Conference Information and Registration 

For questions, contact Carrie Scheidel at (515) 281-4758 or carrie.scheidel@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